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You’ve Got to Hand it to me!

I hear it all the time: “I can’t find a job in this economy!” “No one is hiring!” I realized during my job hunt that this could very well be true, but didn’t look at it as an excuse to give up and not try. This climate presented an opportunity for me to flex my marketing skills and show my future employer just how creative I can be.


Back in college I came up with a crazy idea that I would mail body parts to Stan Winston Studios, a special effects company I wanted to work for. I came up with corny, but witty tag lines for each body part.

Hand: “Thought you could use a hand” 
Foot: “Just trying to get a foot in the door” 
Head: “I would love to get a head in your company” You get the idea!

I never sent anything to the studios as my career path quickly went from film to photography and graphic design, and never had the chance to try this idea out. Until I friend of mine sent me a job listing for a creative company who asked “Do you like to work hard and play even harder?” “Do you have a great personality?” “Are you creative?” Well, yes, yes, yes! This job was just asking for the old body part resume trick!

So I called up my friends Alex and Bill McCoy; Alex and Bill are special effects make up artists. They helped me make an exact copy of my hand holding a card. Alex and I then made a nice box with a really nice ribbon holding my paper resume at the top. After a day of pulling the mold and painting the hand, it was ready to be sent. But how? I cant send this in the mail! I started to over think things, and the what if’s poured into my head. I thought about it long and hard and decided to have a courier hand deliver the package to the president of the company. The package was sent… but I heard nothing from the company.

Weeks go by…

I decided to send a follow up email. I started the email with

“Dear creative company, I was checking the status of the Interactive Design Pimp position. I sent my resume in the other day, it was hands down on of the most recognizable resumes I have ever sent out. Just wondering if you received it. Thank you for your time. Much Respect Rich Johnson “

A few days later I get an email from the president of the company.

“Rich, Thank you very much for your resume. It was certainly unique (and admittedly a little frightening!) Scary or not, I appreciate your creativity and you win big points for getting my attention! 🙂 I have forwarded your resume for review to my Creative Director… If he feels that your portfolio and experience match up with our needs he will certainly contact you. Have a terrific day!”

OMG REJECTED?! My big idea was a big fat failure..

Or so I thought!

I kept sending out a normal resume and got an interview for another design company. When I met with heads of the company I was greeted with “Are you the guy who sent that guy a copy of your hand?!” “Why yes I am.” I said with my head down. “That was so freaking cool!” Later on that day they offered me a job!

In a few months an opportunity to grow and move to a bigger company presented itself. My project manager told me of this company hiring a motion graphics designer. I told her that I would love to but I always had very little luck with emailing resumes and that I thought it was due to my lackluster cover letter. As you can probably tell from reading this I am not very good with grammar and punctuation. She then agreed to write it for me and then I would just attach my awesome resume and send it off.

Well that is exactly what I did. Weeks go by and I did not hear anything from the company, so I asked a friend who knew a friend in the company to find out what the deal was. As he was on the phone I can see his face go blank. He hung up the phone and informed me that my resume was fine but my cover letter was horrible; how can this be? I didn’t write it! He then suggested that I go back and read the email I sent. After tracking it down, my body went cold and I was in shock:
“Dear X, I would like to submit my resume for [Insert Job Title Here]…” Literally, I left “insert job title here.” No need to read the rest of the email, I was finished, done. No need to put the rest of the email, I was finished, done.

I bet they printed my email out and put it on the wall, just to have a good laugh. My friend and I came to the conclusion that this job was never going to happen. But I wasn’t going to roll over and allow my name to be forever associated with this mess. I thought to myself “How can I fix this?” I know, I will own it! I will act like this was my plan from the get go. I have many skills and have been labeled in the past as a jack of all trades, and many companies I have worked for have had a hard time finding a job title that properly fit all the things I do. That night I went home and wrote a script, went on and found a voice over talent who sounded exactly like the Don LaFontaine to record the audio. In a few hours he sent back pure gold! I started to animate the trailer, and by early morning it was done! I sent it off as a follow up to my resume.

The next day I got a call from the president of the company asking for an interview later on in the afternoon. He asked me if it was part of my plan the entire time. Of course I wanted to say yes, but I came clean and explained that it was an honest mistake and that my goal with the video was really to clear my name.

This was a very interesting and at the time a very embarrassing lesson I learned, but I am so happy it happened exactly the way it did. This whole situation sparked a skill I haven’t used in a long time. The skill to think fast and problem solve in the heat of the moment. There are jobs out there, and people who want to hire people who can solve problems, and get creative.

Emailing your resume and a phone call follow up will not work anymore. The tools are out there! Tools that are exclusive to our time. Use them to show how truly amazing you are!

Now go be great and good luck!


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