Inspired Ideas: Will Work for Reference Letters

Yesterday, I was startled by footsteps on my deck.  It was nearly 6pm and I wasn’t expecting anyone.  I looked out the window and caught a glimpse of a young man about 19 or 20 years old dressed in a white shirt button-down and khakis.  He was making his way down my street, going from house to house and leaving a 5″ x 6″ black-and-white flyer on each door.

I grabbed the flyer he’d wedged behind my door knob and started to crumple it up.  But, something caught my eye.  The unremarkable-looking flyer featured something remarkable–an inspired idea.

The flyer featured a photo of the young man I’d seen delivering them and a note that was part biography, part sales pitch and all heart.  The note read:

Dear Homeowner,

My name is Kyle French and I am the local manager for College Corps in Berkeley.  I am a 3rd year at UC Berkeley, and I am a Political Science and Economics major.  I am going to be painting a lot of houses this summer and I wanted to let you know that I will do an awesome job at an affordable price for you.  Please give me a call.  I give free estimates and I will go beyond for you.  This is an internship for me this summer and my goal is to get a reference letter from EVERY client.  Thanks for your time!!!

Reading the flyer got me thinking.  My friends and I spend hours each day evaluating job-hunting strategies and lamenting the lousy state of the market.  Most of them are taking every day in stride, washing down the disappointments with a pink martini (or 2).  But, recently, a few of my friends have begun to give up on finding a job, to give up on “working the program”–the job-hunting strategies we’ve devised.  The side-effect of giving up turns out to be depression (and no payment).  So, what’s this got to do with Kyle and his flyer?

A lot.  Sure, we all want to find a job RIGHT NOW.  But, that’s not possible–13.7 million unemployed, 3.1 million available jobs, somebody’s not getting a chair when the music stops.  But, we can give up the job search and get depressed or we can get inspired.  We can work for reference letters too!

No, I’m not advocating working for free.  With Kyle, only the estimate is free.  Kyle’s inspired idea is that he is willing to work for less than he might be paid in a better market, to take a job that he might not consider in a better market, all with the goal of setting himself up for success when the market improves.

Next year, when Kyle graduates, the market will likely have improved and Kyle will be hitting the new job market with a fistful of reference letters.  What about you?

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