Job hunts and publicity stunts

Mike Barnard examines the lengths that some graduates are going to just to get noticed

Adam Pacitti was so desperate to land a job he used his last £500 to buy a billboard stating just that. The 24-year-old advertised his website, featuring a video CV. It's the latest example of the unemployed eschewing the traditional recruitment process and going to outlandish, and often headline-grabbing, lengths to get noticed by employers who may give them a job.

In the past we've had jobseekers wearing sandwich boards detailing their skills, and did you hear the story of one plucky wannabe marketeer who sent the chief executive of a firm a birthday cake to get noticed? These ballsy moves are often talked about as examples of fresh thinking. But beyond the stunt factor, you'll be hard pushed to find out how successful they were.

So before you go rushing out the door to parachute jump onto the HQ of a City bank or top technology firm, consider what these stories have in common: acts of self-promotion. And, once they've gained the attention of a potential employer, bold jobseekers hope to be given the chance to sell their skills.

But you needn't turn your job hunt into a publicity stunt - you just need to be seen by an employer looking to fill a role, which is exactly what the process of networking, applying for positions and going for interviews should be about. You need to grab the attention of the recruiter immediately, get them interested in you, wow them with what you've achieved, and highlight your potential.

Forget about the high-profile first impression - all a recruiter really wants to know is why they should hire you. Your cover letter, CV and application form answers are the first opportunities you have to get their attention and make them think positively about hiring you. A recruiter wants to be more sure you're the right person with every sentence - and that means stripping out unnecessary details not related to the job you want, such as past work experience in another industry or superfluous skills, and achievements that detract from your relevant qualities.

At an interview, you need to show your commitment and enthusiasm for the job, not just repeat what you said in your application. Industry knowledge, a lively delivery and having confidence will help inspire your interviewers - but don't be shy to ask for clarification if you're unsure about anything. You'd be surprised how many interviewees forget that it's perfectly acceptable to ask questions and engage in a two-way conversation at interviews!

None of these steps would be skipped by hitting the headlines on your way to getting employers interested - you'd still have to prove your worth to the decision-makers and then perform in your job. As we've seen from reality TV, anyone can be famous for five minutes and even eke out that fame until it's turned into ridicule, but the real reward is to excel at what you're best at. And that takes hard work combined with dedication. That's where the real talent comes from.