5 Nontraditional—& Surprisingly Successful—Ways To Land A Gig

Get some inspiration from these creative—and sometimes weird—ideas.

Workin' Girl

In today's job market, it's always good to find ways to stand out, and the more creative, the better. In the realm of creative ways to get a job, I'll never forget the time I met an awesome up-and-coming media queen named Renita Burns years ago. She was young, smart, and a go-getter whose reputation among the editors preceded itself. Why? Because in her job application for an editorial position at the magazine I was working for at the time, she formatted her resume to look like a popular section from the publication. Not only did it impress my boss, but it raised the bar for many of us on the staff. I worked with Burns for several years, and she excelled as a content producer and social media strategist before becoming an analyst.

If you've been hitting walls on the job search front or simply want some inspiration on how to get the attention of top recruiters and companies, be inspired by these 5 stories:

Add a Bit of Shock Value or Visual Allure to Your Resume

If you can risk it and are in an industry where a creative resume is a tad more acceptable (i.e. tech or media versus financial services or education), you might want to try switching up the format to showcase your graphic arts or design skills. You can go the wilder route, like one candidate for a head of marketing job at Basecamp did back in 2017, and list your reason for quitting or leaving each job. You could also get a little wackier and print your resume on the back of a chocolate bar like this candidate or send it as a message in a shoe box to bring life to the "foot in the door" like this candidate.

But seriously, some candidates include infographics and even video resumes and have found success in landing their dream gig. You can also make small tweaks like bold headers, using a sans serif font (versus the usual serif fonts like Times New Roman), or color instead of black-and-white. Experts recommend ensuring that what you include in the design of your resume is relevant to your skills and the job your applying for. You also don't want it to be perceived as gimmicky, rude, unprofessional, tacky, or distracting from the whole point of a resume.

Submit a Campaign or Proposal Idea

Though some candidates might shy away from this—believing that a company might just take their idea and skip hiring them altogether—providing a proposal or solution to a problem the company is facing can sometimes put your resume at the top of the pack. This could be especially ideal for that dream job within your industry or one in which you might have contacts or a good lead.

The first step is to research the company and find out ways you'd impact change via the prospective job. You want to be sure to just give them a taste of your professional abilities as to spark interest, and you can use the proposal to elaborate on your abilities once you've gotten the job interview.

Put Out an Ad

Back in 2014, a Google hopeful put up a billboard right outside the Canadian offices to land a job and was contacted for an interview. Not willing to go that far? Try using Craigslist, LinkedIn, Upwork or other web platform to let recruiters know you're looking for work, you want a specific position, or you're just the best talent to work for the company. You could even try running an ad on Facebook, a tactic that this guy says brought him success and got him interviews.

Go Viral

If you have a knack with social media, lead a brand built on purpose, have a niche talent, or are great with marketing or entertainment, why not use that to draw employers to you? For example, this candidate's whiteboarding video went viral on LinkedIn and got her not only media attention but the eye of hiring professionals. While a guest on Jimmy Kimmel's late night show, actress Tiffany Haddish raved about her love for Groupon and then became their spokesperson shortly after. Remember James "Patti Pie Guy" Wright, whose 2015 video literally singing the praises of the soul songstress's new pies went viral? He's since gone on to build a relationship with LaBelle, create endorsements for other products, tour with Faith Evans and Tamar Braxton, and launch his own solo singing career.

Sis, get creative and find authentic ways to showcase who you are, make connections with your industry's influencers (in real life and on social) and build a community. Turn the tables and make the opportunities come to you.

Host a Recruitment Party

The video hosting options for events are quite reliable at this point, and if you can connect with a recruiter or someone who works in the human resources industry, why not partner with them to host a recruitment party? (Dig into your network, school alumni association, frat or soror chapter, church, or other group you're part of. Trust me, you know somebody, or at least somebody who knows somebody. Hey, a classmate of mine from Hampton U who was a broadcast major now runs an amazing career consultancy after years of working in corporate recruitment. See? Dig in.)

Invite your network, share tips, and offer value. Make it known that you're on the market and are open to new opportunities, and share insights with others who are job seekers. This is a great way to kill two birds with one stone—put yourself out there and be of service at the same time. Recruiters are always looking for ways to reach great professionals—and save money and time in doing so.

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Featured image via Shutterstock

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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