A Modest Proposal for Some "Guerilla" Career Advisors: Walk the Talk, or Wear the Suit

gorilla suitI confess that I feel a bit angry that over 60,000 highly trained people in the industry lost their positions last year, during one of the worst recessions in recent history.

Career advisors are out there dispensing conflicting and confusing information. A lot of if just doesn’t seem to be helpful.  And they’re getting paid, often handsomely, for their advice.


Never mind the companies that sell cold-calling lists, which some desperate job seekers have paid thousands of dollars for.  In this case, we just sigh"Caveat emptor. " Never mind the companies that will help you tape a personal ad for public outreach TV. 


Or even the outplacement firms that charge a nice fee to teach cold calling.  I’m sure that technique works… thousands of voicemail dead-ends later.

 But some of

the “guerilla” career consultants suggest personal branding techniques such as the following:

    Send a coffee cup in the mail with your resume to the hiring manager, inviting him or her out for coffee. 

    After job fairs held in major hotels, have a special and personalized thank you hand delivered to everyone who interviewed you, by a bell hop, directly to each person’s hotel room.
  • Discover the company’s pain points during a job interview, then send a followup in which you solve at least one of these problems, gratis


Some naïve questions.


1.  Companies are outsourcing many HR functions, so is the coffee mug recipient a hiring manager or a temp who doesn’t know all that much about your field, your job, or even your industry?  You’ve just blown several dollars. (And that’s if he or she doesn’t call the bomb squad after receiving an unexpected package. )


2.  Does everyone exhibiting at a job fair actually stay at the venue hotel, and, if they do, will they appreciate stalking?


3.  In a high pressure interview situation in which you are being ask to sell your expertise, in a very limited time period, are you really going to be able to get a manager to discuss his or her goals?   Something approximating that conversation may happen at the very end of the road, if you have a great interview with the top manager.


Even more irritating is all the buzz about USP’s, or Ultimate Sales Propositions----aka elevator speeches.  The uber-marketer who coined the term “guerilla marketing” has reportedly suggested that they be seven words long. He must know what he’s talking about.  But how does that work for anyone in a highly technical or scientific field?   


One consultant suggests the following line. “I’m in the happiness business.”  Would she really say that to a total stranger?

Has anyone out there ever used these techniques and found them useful?


I'm not saying that all these people are quacks or that experienced professionals don’t need to project youthful enthusiasm and to be innovative in looking for career opportunities.  But when does enthusiasm cross the line into desperate and pathetic?   


Besides, sound bites don’t cut it when science is at stake.  


For now, I’d suggest that some of the guerilla consultants actually try out their own advice and write,preferably in an online journal/blog, about the results. And if they are really as good as they say they are, should they ever encounter a dissatisfied customer or bit of negative feedback, perhaps they might agree to walk around town in a gorilla suit before wasting another person's time.  




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