Like most businesses during this tough economic time, our office gets resumes from recent graduates to those with years of experience. It amazes me that most of them arrive via email in what appears to be a blast to everybody under the sun.

When I graduated college in the late 80’s, it was a similar rough time to find a job. We did things the ‘old fashioned’ way of mailing resumes or actually hand delivering them. I put my line in the water like everyone else. After getting nowhere in my quest for a job, I realized I had to somehow set myself apart –be a shiny lure to at least get a nibble.

I took out my trusty X-Acto knife and went about making a pop-up introduction card. The images on the left are early prototypes I actually found in an old file folder –amazing what you keep! The final design was a bit more detailed with the prospective employer’s name cleverly typed on the building and a figure of me standing in front along with cut and paste text expounding my credentials. Needless to say, it was time consuming to make but it showed creativity and a seriousness that ended up sparking interest.

I made about a dozen of these and was called to 4 interviews. Not too bad! Most of them told me, when I walked in the door, that they weren’t hiring but wanted to meet the person who made such a great card. One of those interviews however happened to pay off. I was hired by RRTL Architects and began a 40 mile one-way commute to my new job! A friend of mine and I talk about those days often saying ‘You did whatever it took.’ So true. I painted toilet rooms, changed light bulbs, ran errands and blueprints that first year and rarely touched pencil to paper but I didn’t care. I knew I was lucky, I was happy and more importantly, I was learning.

That little pop-up card got me in the door and made me stand out compared to all of those others fishing for work. I got some nibbles and then a bite. They saw that I would ‘do whatever it takes’ to be the best light bulb changer, errand runner and eventually an architect. I will be forever grateful. This is a lesson I try to teach my children and that you need to be proactive in everything you want to achieve.

Here is an example of a student being creative trying to find an apartment in New York – Wanted: NYC Studio
If you are more handy then I am with an X-Acto knife, here is another way to set yourself apart with a pop-up business card. Amazing.

Written by Michael Huber AIA LEED AP
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