Gail Neal

I took a commission-only sales job at cemetery in August of 2008. I thought it was the ultimate recession-proof job. I was wrong – almost a year later I was actually “broker” than when I started. It was time to find something else to do.

Easier said than done. The June 2009 unemployment rate in Detroit, Michigan was 25-30%.

I considered myself a savvy job seeker. I attended every free or nearly free (because, of course, I had no money) networking event I could find. I followed up on every lead. I did my research and sent resumes to the owners, presidents, or department heads of my target companies. Results? Through the entire summer of 2009 I had a grand total of zero interviews.

On Friday, September 17, I went to yet another networking event. It was a seminar hosted David Perry and his business partner, Kevin Donlin.

I got there early, as usual, to meet people and collect business cards. I recognized a gentleman there from my Linkedin network – he looked exactly like his LinkedIn profile photo! I walked up to him and said, “You are Chuck Tyrrell”. We had been online acquaintances for some time, so we chatted for a few minutes before the seminar started.

One of the many, many tips that David and Kevin shared in the seminar was the “Coffee Cup Caper”. Neat idea, but I didn’t think the arrival of an unidentified package would go over well at the radio station I was trying to get into. So I asked if they had any suggestions for environments with security issues. The answer: “The Trojan Cover Letter”.

Chuck Tyrell heard me ask the radio question. He found me before I left that evening, and told me about another radio station that was hiring. So I put my new guerrilla job hunting skills to work.

  1. I found logos from my almamater and relevant employers and added them to my resume. I also added quotes from my LinkedIn recommendations.
  2. I added a P.S. to my cover letter.
  3. I printed everything in color. I didn’t have access to a color printer, so I went to FedExKinkos
  4. The TROJAN COVER LETTER part: I went to Hallmark and bought a nice thank you card. I folded my new resume and cover letter and put them in the lovely envelope. I hand addressed the envelope, put a gold sticker on the back, and got a nice stamp from the post office.

I mailed everything to the radio station on September 21st, the Tuesday after the seminar. On Thursday, I called to follow up with discouraging results. The General Manager said my name didn’t ring a bell.

The next day, that same general manager called me so say he didn’t want me to go the whole weekend without knowing that the sales manager would be calling me early the following week. He called Monday morning.

Once I had an interview scheduled, I went online and found out about their corporate structure, and I developed intelligent questions based on those observations. The interview went well, but the sales manager told me that they were close to making a decision to hire somebody else.

After the interview, I sent a thank-you email, and mailed hand-written thank-you cards to both the sales manager and the office manager.

They did wind up hiring the other guy, but a week later the sales manager called to say one of his employees had resigned. He told me to talk to the general manager and I would be in. Not quite. It turns out that, for EEOC purposes, they had to start the hiring process from scratch. Frustrating, but survivable.

I used another guerrilla tactic to prepare for my interview with the General Manager. I started work before I was hired: I went to the library, where I have access to the Reference USA database. Based on what I had heard the sales manager say about some of their current accounts, I looked up potential sales leads and printed the contact information. Then, sitting in my car at the Laundromat, I made cold calls. When I saw the General Manager, I was able to say, “These people need appointments”.

Between the second and third interview, I found some relevant blogs, and I emailed the links to the sales manager. We discussed these at the third interview as well as the sales leads I had brought in before.

I mailed hand-written thank-you cards to everyone I talked to at each of these visits.

I was hired November 11th and started December 1st.

Prologue: One year and 3 weeks after the September 2009 seminar, I began working at the original radio station I was trying to get into when all this started. I coupled my guerrilla job hunting skills with my 10 months of radio experience to get my dream job.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I had never even been inside a radio station when all this started?