Shortly after our marriage in 1991, the business partnership in which I was involved dissolved. For the first time since my teenage years, I was unemployed, and as it turns out, for an extended period of time. The U.S. unemployment rate was just 6.8%, but competition was fierce for the few IT jobs that appeared on the market. There was no such thing as online employment apps back then. For months, I mailed out hundreds of resumes for jobs advertised in the Sunday New York Times, Newark Star Ledger, and Employment Weekly. I heard back from no one!
One night as I was praying, the thought popped into my little brain that it was time to start thinking outside of the box. My resume was good. It documented great experience and a fine objective, but in appearance it probably looked like any one of another 100 resumes out there. It was just boring black ink on white paper. There was nothing about it that popped out or distinguished itself. Of course I could add some gray backgrounds or lines to embellish certain sections, or bold some words to highlight salient points, but these were desperate times. My wife was unemployed also and we were living solely on her unemployment, which would soon cease. As a former business owner, I didn't pay into unemployment insurance. Desperate times lead to desperate measures. I needed to do something to really make myself stand out in a crowd.
The idea came to convert my standard boring resume into a colorful brochure to advertise my abilities. First, I needed to find the right paper, which I got from Paper Direct. I ordered a box of 100 sheets. A week later with paper in hand, I created a very colorful trifold brochure as my resume. The headline read, Why Look Any Further When the Best Candidate has Just Applied?
The following Monday I sent out 10 of these brochures. On Wednesday, I got a phone call from Robert Johnson of RT Johnson, Inc. His first question was, "Are you a business or a job seeker?" I replied, "Job seeker." He setup an interview for me for Friday. When I arrived at Robert's office, he showed me a stack of over 200 resumes he received for this one position. He said He liked my out of the box thinking and moved me to the top of the stack. The brochure served its purpose! I was the only one he interviewed. He presented me to the client and I started working on a contract for AT&T Consumer Sales in Liberty Corner, NJ within 2 weeks. Robert's was the first of 5 calls I received from that 10-piece mailing. Any mailing that produces a 50% response rate is exceptional. And as I was looking for that paper to scan for this article, I discovered that I still have 87 sheets left.
Things haven't changed much since the earlier recession. In fact, I think it's a little tougher now. The unemployment rate is much higher and senior level positions are often not advertised or discovered through networking. Since my last FTE role ended in 2009, I've been fortunate enough to find some interesting contract roles, and launch a part-time publishing business. But I'm really looking for a position as CIO, CTO, or VP of Application Development. I have the competencies, commitment, passion, and knowledge to create new competitive advantage, new products, new services, and transform IT into a business relationship driven, world-class operation. That looks all well and good on paper, if decision makers actually get to read the paper. So how do I make myself stand out again when traditional wisdom teaches that resumes should be no longer than 2-pages?
Taking a cue from the success of the brochure, I've created a 14-page 8.5 x 11 booklet that kind of resembles a corporate shareholder report. The file is at the printer's now and I'm looking forward to have the booklets in hand sometime next week.
This format seems to be popular in Europe and globally within the graphic design community. My .pdf version is available for you to review. As you look at it, you have to imagine it laid out in a booklet form, saddle stitched with facing pages. If you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat, you can see it as intended by viewing it in two-page view.
As an experiment, I searched the LinkedIn job board last night and sent 5 copies out to recruiters in consideration for positions for which I'm reasonably qualified. This morning I've already received 2 positive requests for follow-up discussions, a 40% response rate. Is this format going to help me land my next full-time role? Only time will tell if this is truly out of the box thinking, an out of this world approach, or if I'm completely out of my mind. What do you think? I'll let you know.