Adam Pacitti wanted a job in the media. He was unemployed. Since graduating from college, he'd bumped around, working at Woolworth's, until it closed, and then an amusement arcade, which laid him off. Now he was determined to get a position in the "ultra competitive, cutthroat, and slightly vacuous industry that is the media," as his tongue-in-cheek video resume explained:
Pacitti, 24, understood that just sending in resumes and hoping to be noticed wouldn't go far. So in January, he decided to go for broke -- literally. He spent what he said was his last £500 (just under $770) on a billboard in London. The message read: "I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job." At the bottom of the billboard was a website URL, EmployAdam.com.
Sounds silly? Maybe, but within a month, Pacitti had the last laugh. "I received emails from about 250 different companies who were interested," he told AOL Jobs in a phone interview. "In the end, I received 60 solid job offers, from marketing to production companies." He took a position with agency KEO Digital. A couple of those offers were also from outside industries -- like plumbers and butchers. Apparently they were impressed with his pitch too.
A Billboard Isn't Enough
Pacitti isn't the only job seeker who has created a resume designed to go viral. Others have tried similar tactics in the U.S. For example, Toledo, OH deputy sheriff Brandon Stuard turned a billboard into a resume for his wife in 2012. In the same year, 23-year-old Bennett Olson got a job with a 3-D scanning company through his own billboard.
However, what Pacitti did was not just rent a billboard and hope for the best. He created a clever marketing campaign designed to appeal to the press, go viral, and catch the attention of the types of companies that he wanted to work for in the first place.
Here are the steps:
1. Have a strategy first: Pacitti spent two-and-a-half months preparing the campaign, which included the billboard, his employadam.com site, and a series of photo and video resources for media outlets that wanted to run a story.
2. Back up the real world with online: The combination of physical billboard and online site was a key to success. "The billboard worked fantastically in print," Pacitti says. "I offered the pictures of the billboard in high resolution on my website, so it made it really easy for journalists not to send someone to the billboard -- so they could be really lazy."
3. Tell a story that will grab people's attention: Not only did the billboard create something the media could relate to, and further share to advance Pacitti's interests, but the sound of desperation was planned. "It was really topical," he said. "It challenged stereotypes that young people don't want to work."
4. Don't forget the viral resume: Then there was the online resume, intentionally done with self-deprecating humor to encourage people to share it online. "I said anyone could use anything on the website," he says. "It was something the TV stations could do. It was really easy for them." And then he was also posting regularly from Twitter and Facebook.
5. Be real, not slick: The website looked a bit dorky because it needed to. "If it had looked incredibly professional, it would have seemed like an advertising agency doing this," Pacitti. "It showed I was able to market to a large number of people and for a small amount of money get a considerable amount of press and attention. It's now become a portfolio piece. I do a lot of public speaking about viral marketing."
"I think a lot of employers are getting fed up with seeing the same sheet of paper coming through their door, and in some cases there's a need to grab attention," Pacitti says. Of course, you need to develop a story to tell and find a novel way to do it. But pull it off with flair and you too might land a job in the ultra competitive world of media -- or at a local butcher shop.