At the end of 2007, I lost my job. Bad timing. Because of the sub-prime mortgage mess (housing and credit crisis, stock market and economic downturn), the large commercial and investment banks suffered billions of dollars in losses and laid off tens of thousands of employees. I was not able to find employment in my field (or in other fields) for over six months.
After months of making telephone calls, emailing resumes, and networking among family, friends and colleagues, I decided to take to the streets to hand out my resume (since 9/11, it is impossible to go knocking on doors in NYC).
I was having a drink with my wife one Saturday night and said that perhaps I should go out to Park Avenue during lunch time to hand out some resumes. I then suggested that I put on a poster board saying, “Experienced MIT Grad for Hire,” and include my contact information: telephone (917) 650 8700; email firstname.lastname@example.org. I would do it every day, during lunchtime, for a week. My wife thought it was a great idea and called a few close friends who also thought it was a great idea. I nearly backtracked because of embarrassment and rain, but on late Monday morning, I went to 50th St. and Park Avenue wearing my sign, to hand out some resumes. My goal was to generate new leads.
One of my wife's friends, Matt Hagan who runs Bulldog Public Relations in Washington DC, advised her to take a picture, write up a paragraph and send it to a few newspapers, such as the NY Sun, the NY Times and the NY Post. I did not realize that within a few days, I would be world-famous.
The NY Sun and NY Post first picked up my story, then local TV and radio stations such as ABC, NBC and CBS, then national networks such as Fox, CNN, and CNBC, and then my picture and story went around the world on the BBC, AP and Reuters. The BBC called me, “The Face of the American Economy,” while the AP titled my story, “Sign of the Times.”
I received hundreds of emails and phone calls from around the world, but the job search was slow and frustrating. Meetings took weeks to arrange. In the economic crisis, no one was in a rush to hire. However, I spoke and met with many very interesting people, went through a transformational experience, eventually started working again - and was granted a second round of global viral publicity.