By Erik Sherman for AOL Jobs
If you think you've worked hard to get a job, then it's time to meet Dan Conway, who dubs himself "The Extreme Job Hunter." Since April, he has tried virtually anything and everything to capture the attention of hiring managers, from trying to auction himself off on eBay, and offering to buy an employer an iPad, to even wrestling in gravy.
The 28-year-old from Newcastle upon Tyne, England, had enough bad luck for everyone. He's been laid off half a dozen times, and some of them from work far removed from his background in advertising. His experience, as he told AOL Jobs in an interview, shows how tough the job market can be, and how even perseverance and ingenuity may not be enough to land a new position.
At this point, despite resorting to tactics that some would consider undignified, perhaps humiliating, he still is unemployed.
When Desperation Set In: Conway, the father of two toddlers, lost his previous job as a project worker in a youth center in June 2012. With no immediate prospects, he says, he tried helping his wife start a business selling cakes at markets. It was a flop. "We couldn't get enough money," Conway says, and the couple started with no capital.
A Thousand Resumes, No Responses: He tried sending resumes and cover letters and is "near the thousand mark." No jobs and barely any responses. So, having a degree in advertising, he took a few weeks after the end of the baking business and planned an ongoing campaign that launched in April to gain attention from employers by branding himself "The Extreme Job Hunter." Conway says that all he wants is a chance to prove that he can do a job. "I need someone willing to take me on," he says. "The interview process doesn't showcase someone's skills properly or show whether they can do the job or not."
It's not like stunts can't work. Adam Pacitti of the United Kingdom got 60 job offers after renting a billboard and running a social media campaign to back it up. Even companies have taken to using stunts — like training someone to be Kid Rock's bartender and paying $10,000 — to get attention from Google search gold.
First, Conway started with a video resume starring his 2-year-old daughter, Lucy, asking people to employ her dad.
He tried auctioning himself off on eBay for £25,000.
When eBay learned of the stunt, it shut the auction down quickly.
Conway offered to buy an iPad mini to anyone who helped him land a good job.
He still hasn't had to to make the purchase.
There was the piñata resume and then a picture of him with his daughter and a chalkboard saying, "If this picture gets 10,000 likes, 'Bauer Media' will give my Daddy a job."
It would have been for a job writing radio ads. He got 4,500 likes. He got an interview, but no job. "I was close to getting that job and it broke my heart, to be honest," Conway says.
As he says, he's really bad in job interviews.
But that didn't stop him. Next was the box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts he sent after a first interview, which at least got him a second one.
But no job.
There were other stunts, like buying Google ads so that if Tony Hall, head of the BBC, googled his name, at the top would be an ad that read, "Hello Tony Hall - Please give me a job - theextremejobhunter.com". Then there was the song he wrote and sang, posting on YouTube again for Tony Hall.
It's corny, it's silly, but you start rooting for the guy. And that's good, because he's far from done. He did a topless picket on a commuter route.
The giant cover letter.
The cartoon-strip cover letter.
Conway got on Twitter and tried introducing himself to Newcastle University for a position as a social media coordinator. They didn't want to hear from anyone outside of the standard type of application. So he sent an application that would be standard for him: a pizza box with a letter written on the inside cover. Nada.
His latest stunt was entering the World Gravy Wrestling Championships. The people running it were good sports, letting him parade around with a shirt that said he'd "wrestle for job" and a placard with his website address.
He quickly lost his match: "I'm about 5 foot 6 and really skinny. I got eaten alive," Conway says. It may be appropriate for a gravy wrestling championship, but, again, no job.
So, quick, someone hire the guy. Or at least get him some more pizzas and boxes of doughnuts so he can continue his quest.
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