Innovative desperation: The colourful approaches unemployed creatives are taking to land their dream job
Informing prospective employers that you like to be tied up and enquiring about their favourite position isn’t the most conventional way to apply for a job, but in today’s crowded creative industries, convention is making way for attention grabbing self-promotion. The Drum's Angela Haggerty takes a look.As rejection letters pile up, unemployed creatives’ frustration is turning to innovative desperation. Adam Pacitti’s recent stunt of hiring a billboard to tell the country he’d just gambled his last £500 on the ultimate job application put him in the nation’s papers. He used his employadam.com website to chart his progress with humour and show employers his skills. The idea captured the attention not just of the intended targets, but thousands of equally frustrated job hunters.“It was crazy,” Pacitti told The Drum. “I was featured in every daily national newspaper, had national TV appearances, radio interviews, everything. I received more emails from employers than I could respond to. I had £500 left in the bank. There was a chance that nobody would like the idea and nobody would share it.”Pacitti’s billboard simply featured a picture of him pointing to the words “I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job. employadam.com”, and provoked a frantic rush to get him to sign on the dotted line.The high profile of Pacitti’s idea upped the stakes for young creatives looking for a foot onto the ladder. In an overcrowded market, the recruitment process has taken on a whole new level of competition. It’s fast becoming about who can come up with the brightest, biggest, best idea which screams to employers that they just can’t let them slip through the net. Are conventional CVs are going out of fashion in the digital age?“I receive a daily onslaught of entry level CVs so it doesn’t take long for the majority to meld into one anonymous mass,” says Sally Boulton, head of talent acquisition at Tribal DDB. “When a candidate shows a true desire to work for Tribal DDB by creating a personal and engaging piece of communication which grabs my attention – in a good way – rather than just sending their generic application, they are far more likely to be noticed and considered, whether it be for an immediate vacancy or a role in the future.”Tribal DDB has already received a number of creative job applications, which Boulton says sit proudly on the office windowsill, on hand for when a new role comes up at the company.While Pacitti’s idea was simple, funny and in your face, 23-year-old creative Myke Hamilton is going for a rather more risqué approach by creating seven sexually provocative postcards with some clever small print. In bold letters he proclaims “you’ll love my 11.7 inches” and “I love to be tied up”, followed by a disclaimer.“Sending a CV just isn’t enough anymore,” says Hamilton. “I’ve spent countless hours searching job sites, phoning agencies and sending out CVs, but regardless of talent or experience I’ve failed to get noticed.”Hamilton had an early start in industry, gaining a placement at a production company in Manchester aged 14 and later graduating with a first class degree in media production. His set of seven postcards come with a handwritten message of ‘spare me 15 minutes and you’ll see why you can’t be without me’ on the back.“The first six are sent to individuals of different job roles within the company to increase the chances of being noticed,” he explains. “The seventh is a ‘limited edition’ postcard that will be sent to the company if they fail to contact me – you must show some persistence. My aim is to sit down with a potential employer for 15 minutes and tell them why they shouldn’t let me walk out the door. I’m more than what’s written on a CV, and I just want the opportunity to explain that.”He also plans to use Twitter and social media to get his idea on agency radar and hopes a #NaughtyToBeNoticed hashtag will catch on and encourage others to get involved with their own caption ideas.“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think it was a bit risky. You never know how people will react to the naughty captions and whether or not they will think I’ve crossed a line. In the end though, I’m willing to take the risk to get noticed and hope I get a few laughs along the way.”UK unemployment currently sits at 2.5m, and although digital is a booming industry and a growing economic driver, the level of career interest in the sector keeps it notoriously difficult to get into. An advantage of the creative industries is the freedom to get creative about it – it’s worth sparing a thought to the 1,701 applicants to a new Costa Coffee store due to open in Nottingham, who have little hope of standing out from the crowd. Some agencies are even taking up the challenge from their side, with Mother London offering a creative placement in return for the best idea submitted on a McDonald’s napkin. A creative duo known as Carl & Charlotte are taking a more technological approach after launching an Instagram campaign to get noticed. Using the tagging function, they hope tagging their work to various locations will attract agency interest in a way that hasn’t been done before. “We know how competitive it is out there, so wanted to create something which would make us stand out, lead people to our site and show that we know how to get people’s attention,” the duo told The Drum. “We’ve only just launched the project, targeting many different agencies across London, and now we’re waiting to see the results.”Jeremy Garner, executive creative director at Weapon7, believes the industry has never been tougher to get into, and the more imaginative applicants are, the better: “Young applicants have been using unexpected ways of trying to stand out for years. The main thing is to try and keep it relevant and interesting. The ability to think innovatively, often within constraints, in order to get your message heard is as much an instinct as a learned skill. If someone can demonstrate that and stand out from their peers, they can use it to get their foot in the door.”It’s clear that stand-out applications aren’t just a fleeting novelty, but are likely to keep an applicant’s name kicking around the office rather than drifting off into the digital ether. For frustrated young creatives it’s another level of competition to break through, but an opportunity to show some flare and ability, and permission to be bold, cheeky and a bit silly in front of future employers. Any young industry starters who aren’t thinking up wild and wonderful ideas may have to re-think their approach.If you're looking for a new job in media or marketing right now, then try The Drum's job forum.
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