ThirdPoint, CC 4.0
Source: ThirdPoint, CC 4.0

Unless you’re a star, landing a job is usually a slog. Especially if you're impatient, you might want to try one or more of these ultra-fast approaches. After all, if it doesn’t work, you can always revert to the slog.

Walk in. Walk in to, say, 10 employers. If you’re willing to start from the bottom, sure, include places of employment with a help-wanted sign in the window but also visit other places at which you’d like to work. True, you may never get past the receptionist or security guard but then again, you’re very likely to be rejected or ignored most of the time if you just respond to posted job ads. Most decent jobs get dozens if not hundreds of applicants. Walking in has worked for a number of my clients.

But what if there is a security guard? This may be inspiring. A client wanted to work in the federal office building in Oakland. She showed up outside it a few minutes before 9 AM, approached a friendly person who was about to walk into the building. She said, “I know this sounds weird but I’d love to work for the federal government and applying the traditional way is such a brick wall. I’m wondering if you’d be willing to tell the security guard I’m with you, so I can perhaps find some nice person willing to give me some insider advice?” After three nos including one who said, “Are you nuts?” a person said yes. When our hero got past the security guard, she asked her escort, “I’m interested in being an analyst. Is there a floor you think I should try?" She got off the elevator at that floor, looked for people who weren't busy and looked friendly, and told her tale. No, she didn’t get a job on the spot but made a relationship with one person who gave her hints. Five months late—fast for government—she was hired.

Another example: A client wanted to work at U.C. Berkeley. She didn’t care much what she did there. She was a soft-skilled person—friendly, detail-oriented, bright. She simply went to department offices she found appealing—alumni relations, physical education, English, student housing, etc. At the student affairs department, she was told of an upcoming opening, given tips on what to say in the application, and voila, two months later, got a job in a favorite department at her dream employer.

Phone a friend. Phone ten people who like you and who could hire you or refer you to someone who could, even if it’s not for your dream job. Many job seekers need a win NOW. So even if you have to work retail, such a job provides structure to your life and can help rebuild your confidence. Just don’t work there so long that it vitiates your motivation and energy to look for something better. I had a client, a U.C. Berkeley grad, who worked as a Starbucks barista for seven years. When I asked why, he said, “Just inertia.”  If you have to take a low-level job but aspire to something higher, right away start developing relationships with higher-ups at your workplace and perhaps at headquarters—After all, many employers give employees a directory of internal phone numbers. Plus, continue networking and answering ads for good positions elsewhere.

Call and email target employers. Phone and email ten dream or realistic target employers that aren't advertising an appropriate position. Don’t know who those people might be? Search LinkedIn on those employers, For example, if you want to be in Google’s training dept, contact not HR but a training manager there. In that case, include a YouTube of you in action.

Make quick but deep LinkedIn and Twitter connections. On LinkedIn and Twitter, follow ten organizations that interest you and individuals there who could hire you. In inviting to connect with a person on LinkedIn, don’t use the standard invitation. Rather, in a sentence or two, explain what you like about the person or organization. For example, “I’m an avid user of WhatsApp and would certainly consider working there. Would you add me to your LinkedIn connections?” Make smart, occasionally flattering comments for a few days in a row. Then ask for an info interview.

Make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse. Volunteer as a tryout, making it for a fixed period: “I’ll volunteer for a week for free. At that point, you can hire me or not. No risk. At minimum, you will have gotten a week’s volunteer work to make your life easier."

Start an instant business. Subject to laws and other restrictions, you can very quickly start an ultra-simple business. An oddball example that costs almost nothing to start.: Find an importer of or local wholesaler or manufacturer of local team baseball caps. Buy 50 at a good price—maybe $2 a piece. Put em in a large plastic trash bag that has a handle. Stand where fans will be walking to the day’s game, for example, in or near the train station near the stadium or in the parking lot, if allowed. Stack as many caps as you can on your head, maybe 20. The caps sticking up will be seen from all around, attract attention, and you probably can sell lots at $10 a pop. As your stack gets low, add more from your warehouse (your plastic bag.) You could clear a few hundred bucks in a few hours. Or hire teenagers to do it. Here's an even more offbeat instant business idea, this one for counseling types: Set up a table on a street with busy foot traffic and like Lucy did in the Charlie Brown cartoons, post a sign “The Coach is in. 5 cents.” You could try $5. Nothing to lose.

The takeaway

Of course, most people find jobs in traditional ways but especially if you’re feeling desperate, one of these Hail Marys could give you a prayer.

Dr. Nemko’s nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at

You are reading

How To Do Life

Thoughts on Action Versus Reflection

My answer to a relative's question.

Foiling Dishonest Job Seekers

Advice for employers and job hunters.

A Fresh Start Yet Again

A short-short story about passivity, resilience, and change.