You remember Persky. The name might not ring a bell, but the image will: an otherwise dignified looking, well dressed investment banker in a sandwich board with his education and contact info printed on it, trolling the length of Park Avenue like a harbinger of the Wall Street Apocalypse.
With a degree from MIT, a manila envelope of resumes, and a smile, it took Persky 6 months to get a job. That’s with the same media coverage as Williams—morning shows, the covers of finance journals, the topic of much water cooler and news radio discussions alike. Oh, and no criminal record.
A similar job-seeker, Paul Nawrocki, was pounding the pavement for two years before the tactic paid off. Slightly less dignified, he took a page from Williams’ playbook with an “almost homeless” message printed on his sandwich board like a headline.
It didn’t work for him either.
It’s possible that the entertainment industry may be more forgiving in general, or the radio business less appearance-conscious. But one thing is clear: gimmicks don’t work in the professional world. And though time will only tell with Williams’ case, you can assume that gimmicks and felonies are unlikely to fare better.
There are simply too many factors involved in hiring that fly in the face of stunt job-seeking. Potential employers look for stability, sanity, ability to work with others, and good decision making. Standing in the street with a sign doesn’t bode well for those attributes.
Unlike Williams, who was given the chance to transcend appearance and circumstance, putting your "crazy" foot forward for a job will not likely result in a real opportunity; employers will simply be much too wary to give you a fair shake.
Instead, let others put the word of your talent out for you and, you guessed it, network network network. A real live person’s good word goes much further than your own scrawled tag-line on a sandwich board on interstate 71.
Don’t believe us? Ask anyone who opened a forwarded email over the last couple of days with the subject line “listen to this guy’s voice!”
Oh, and if you have a criminal record, wait until your new boss loves you to say anything. That will likely work for Williams as well.
Cathy Vandewater is an associate producer for Vault.com. Originally from Utica, NY, she holds a BA in writing from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where she currently resides. Comments? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org