by Blair Adams

With jobs scarce and middle-class jobs gone the way of the black-and-white TV, is it still possible to achieve the American dream? Joanne Horvath, an employment specialist at Berenson Personnel, a leading temp agency, thinks so.

“You just have to dial down your expectations, and imagine your job search strategy in a whole new way,” Horvath said. “In today’s economy, where there are so many more applicants than there are jobs, stellar qualifications aren’t enough. For example, some employers hold a raffle where the winning ticket holders are the ones who get to apply. Also, the hiring process itself is a lot more cryptic. Most employers refuse to hire people who are currently unemployed. If you’re an expert in your field, you’re overqualified; if you’re a star performer, you’ll want too much money; if you have years of experience, you’re too old; and if you have a new degree or certificate, you have no experience. And for most jobs, there’s no tolerance for learning or transfer of skills from one field to another.” Therefore, she went on, job seekers need to find creative ways to stand out.

There are plenty of opportunities available to the resourceful.

There are plenty of opportunities available to the resourceful.

Twenty-eight-year-old Lane Martin of Kansas City, Missouri, is one example. When a recent hiring fair for a dozen part-time clerks’ positions at a local Walmart drew more than 3,000 people, Lane got creative, took matters into his own hands — and won.

A recent graduate of NYU with a degree in engineering and a master’s in urban planning, Lane had sent out 600 resumes but never got called for an interview. Needing to bring in some cash, he went to apply for a position at the fair. But after standing in line for six hours and seeing that his prospects were dimming by the minute, Lane decided he had to do what he had to do — make an impression no matter what. He took a page out of the old seventies playbook, doffed his clothes and ran, stark naked, to the front of the line. Hoping to imprint his name on the interviewers’ memories, he saluted the Walmart representatives, handed them his resume and said, “Lane Martin at your service.” Then he ran as police keeping order at the event came after him.

A former high school track star and an avid jogger, Lane ran so fast down the street, he quickly eluded the police, and a courier delivering a package couldn’t help but notice. The courier flagged Lane down, took down his contact information and hired him the next day. At $8 an hour, the courier’s job is way more than he was making at his old, interim position as a waiter.

But running naked isn’t the only way to stand out from the crowd. Rick Nevitt, a 38-year-old former ad executive in Phoenix, Arizona, thinking he didn’t have a chance in a field of over 300 applicants, barked and howled like a dog during a recent interview for a sales position at a car dealership — he got the job. Other job applicants have parachuted to their interviews in costume or fixed Caesar’s salad at the interviewer’s desk.

Horvath said, “If you asked me what the American dream is now, I couldn’t say. Last week we had one guy come in who was a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, and he couldn’t get a job. So I asked him, ‘Can you do anything else, like sing or tap dance?’ All I know is, in today’s economy, always think and do the opposite of what makes sense.”

Blair Adams is the editor of Downsized Living.

All Downsized Living blog posts are fictitious and satirical. Any resemblance to real persons is coincidental and unintentional.

Photo credit: iStock