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More Ways to SCAMPER for a Job

Last week, I wrote about how to use three principles from the book, "Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck," by Michael Michalko, to find work faster.

To recap, Michalko's book helps you brainstorm solutions by forcing you to look at problems in nine different ways, arranged around the mnemonic SCAMPER.

They are: Substitute; Combine; Adapt; Modify or Magnify; Put to other uses; Eliminate; Reverse or Rearrange.

This week, I'll apply the last four SCAMPER principles to solve problems you may be having in your job search ...

  1. Modify or Magnify: How could you alter something in your job hunt or make it bigger?

    Ideas:What if you moved your job-search efforts to another location for the day, say a coffee shop or the library downtown? You might get new ideas and perspectives by seeing and talking to new people.

    What if you made your networking phone calls one hour earlier or later in the day? Four hours? Could you reach more people and have better conversations?

    To magnify or think bigger, what if you blew your resume up and had it printed on a t-shirt or a sandwich board? Or, let's say you're currently targeting 20 companies where you'd like to work -- what if you doubled that list, to 40?

    What could you do more often? If you average two networking meetings every week, what if you could schedule four? Eight? Other people have done it -- why not you?

  2. Put to other uses: What new functions can you find for what you've been doing?

    Ideas: What if you used postage stamps as self-marketing tools? You could put your picture, personal logo -- even a photo of the hiring manager you want to meet -- on a stamp and use it to mail your cover letter and resume. What kind of impact do you think that would have? To learn more, visit in the U.S. or in Canada.

    What if you re-purposed the best ideas from your cover letters and turned them into blog postings? A cover letter is typically read only once, but a blog posting can last forever ... and get you found by recruiters and hiring managers if Google picks it up. Don't have a blog? Start one today at

    Ever get a sales letter with a Post-It Note on it? Studies by 3M and the U.S. Postal Service show that including one will increase response. What could you write on a Post-It Note, stuck to your cover letter, that would make more employers call you? How about "Don't read this if you don't need a Star Employee," or "Revealed -- 3 ways to save $57,000 or more for your business"?

  3. Eliminate: What could you subtract from what you're doing?

    Ideas: What if you left only the first part of tantalizing voicemails for employers? Example: "Hi, this is Steve Jones at 612-567-8901. I just spent the morning talking to three of your competitors. They told me that ..." Click. Do you think more employers might return your calls? Test this on companies you don't want to work for first. (Kudos to Jeffery Gitomer for the idea.)

    What if you split up the bullet points in your cover letter into, say, three specific ways to build an employer's business? Then mail each idea in a separate letter, to arrive three days in a row. Do you think three mini-case studies would have more impact than one cover letter?

    What if you defined your problem with the narrowest possible "how" question. Example: How can I meet more hiring authorities? Doing this can confirm the vital few tasks that really produce job interviews, so you can do more of them.

  4. Reverse or Rearrange: What can you do in the opposite order or direction? How else can you arrange your job-search tactics?

    Ideas: Most people send out resumes and hope for interviews later. What if you set up interviews first, researched the company and the industry ahead of time, met the decision maker, demonstrated your value, then sent a customized resume after the meeting?

    What if you rearranged your resume and drew it as a flowchart? A mindmap? A recipe? A magazine cover?

    What if you changed verbs and subjects when thinking about your job search. Example: "How can I convince employers to hire me?" becomes "How can employers convince me to work for them?" Does this give you a helpful new perspective on your skills, experience and value?

For even more ideas, I suggest you grab a copy of Michael Michalko's "Thinkpak" for yourself.

- Kevin Donlin

Kevin Donlin is contributing co-author of "Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters 2.0." Since 1996, he has provided job-search help to more than 20,000 people. For a free glimpse, visit Guerrilla Job Search System DVD.