For $300, these B, C, and arguably D-list celebrities will videotape themselves reading your résumé or cover letter. If that's too expensive, no worries. You can pay $19.95 for a celeb to leave a 30-second voice mail for a potential boss. The conceit: that even a pseudo-celebrity endorsement will help you stand out from the crowd. "If you look at the job situation out there, there's a one in 100 percent chance of getting noticed," says John Stevens, vice president of special projects for HollywoodIsCalling.com. "I think this is a good service if you want to heighten that probability." (Article continued below...)
Not convinced that second-tier cast members from The Sopranos can alleviate those job woes? Well, nothing seems too farfetched right now, as the national unemployment rate hits 9.7 percent and the chairman of the Federal Reserve warns about ongoing joblessness. One unemployed investment banker donned a sandwich board last year that said MIT GRAD FOR HIRE and handed out résumés along Manhattan's Park Avenue. Baseball player Ryan Sadowski got promoted from the minor leagues to the San Franciso Giants after his mom called several recruiters. And a soon-to-be-graduate of Virginia Tech, Lianna Dosik, had her name, e-mail address, and school colors emblazoned on pens that she plans to hand out at job fairs. "We can't be too quick to criticize," says Sue Pressman, president of the National Employment Counseling Association. "We're having a paradigm shift in the industry, and creativity is winning out."
Creativity, along with a healthy dose of celebrity obsession, led television producer John Surowy to create HollywoodIsCalling. He became interested in the mechanics of the job search after shooting a documentary called Job Wars that, ironically, covers the dos and don'ts of looking for work. Surowy wasn't available to speak with NEWSWEEK about his inspiration (he's also the founder of the Celebrity Dating Network), but his colleague Stevens says the goal is to create informal "streetlike videos" with low-key production values in the vein of TMZ or YouTube.
HollywoodIsCalling recently launched its celeb-résumé service, but hasn't had any takers yet. To get a glimpse of what these videos may look like, NEWSWEEK asked the company to create a sample reading. The result: Megadeth's former bass guitarist David Ellefson read from a fictional cover letter. "Hello, my name is John Smith," Ellefson says. "I'm a music teacher who has spent the last 10 years teaching music in Michigan." Watch the full video.
While a video may help job seekers stand out, it may not draw the kind of attention they bargain for. Get it wrong, and employers may not take you seriously, and they might judge you as unprofessional. Worse, you may suffer the same fate as Alexsy Vayner, a Yale student who self-produced a video titled "Impossible Is Nothing." It unfortunately made him the subject of jokes, not job offers.
Still, taking a risk can have an upside, says career counselor Robert Chope, founder of the Career and Personal Development Institute in San Francisco. "It's like dating. Some people will reject those are who willing to take risks," he says. But others in more creative fields, such as marketing or entertainment, may actually win points with prospective employers. At the very least you'll be able to brag that the Hulk has read your résumé.