Why Creating a Hire-Me Site is a Bad Idea

One of the people who frequently participates in the Poynter career chats at 1 p.m. EDT on Wednesdays e-mailed me a question about “hire-me” sites in which people beg or demand that employers hire them.

She doubts they work.

I agree.

I have looked at a lot of them now — by journalists and non-journalists — and most fall flat. While desperate times call for desperate measures, we don’t want to look desperate, and some of these sites do.

Personal hire-me sites and pages seem to be characterized by a lack of focus and editing discipline. They meander and can sound defensive. The people who create these sites may vent about how hard it is to find a job, and that almost always makes them sound insecure. Neither the sites, nor the people who created them, tend to inspire confidence.

Weak humor can be a key ingredient in a hire-me pitch. Here is the copy from one site: “Hire me. I know what I’m doing. I am not a jerk. I will listen to you and probably talk you out of three bad ideas. I will make jokes. When the bill comes, you will feel like you got a great deal. Hey, look at the nice business website I had to hold a gun to my own head to make myself create.”

Some “hire me” sites are aimed at specific employers or jobs. One person blogs at “Hire Me Martha,” hoping to land a job with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. Others try to target specific companies.  This blogger, for instance, posts jokes that he hopes will get picked up by “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.” These are publicity stunts. Why else would you send the whole world a message intended for one or two people?

Baltimore Sun reporter Gus G. Sentementes noticed an outbreak of these sites in 2009. His story attributed the outbreak to high unemployment, the difficulty of getting noticed and easy-to-use tools.

One site, HireMeTee.com, will let you advertise your search as you walk down the street, in case you walk down streets where a lot of people are looking to hire journalism interns. Hire-me sites are the contemporary equivalent of hire-me shirts.

Once, a young reporter was trying to get a job at the Detroit Free Press. He applied, he interviewed, he tried. No luck.

So then, he tried the creative approach. He sent in a T-shirt. On one side, it said: “Smith on obits.” On the reverse, it asked, “Couldn’t you just die?”

Points for creativity, but no job.

At least he targeted his shirt to the people he was trying to reach.

It’s better to pursue journalism jobs — tough as they are to land — in more direct, professional ways with networking, face-to-face meetings and a solid portfolio.

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OK, here is one hire-me site that is pretty cool. It is by an MIT PhD (sure, it helps to have one of those) and it works because it spoofs hire-me pages. If you click on any of the entry points to see what’s behind it, you can see that its creator, Eugene Hsu, does some great work.

Question about your career or job? E-mail Joe for an answer.

Coming Wednesday: Join me and Poynter’s Colleen Eddy for a live career chat at 1 p.m. ET. We’ll share tips on how to handle group interviews.

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