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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.


We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
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