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Posted on Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

U-M grad tries 'extreme job hunting' - and lands an interview

By Kellie Woodhouse

Social media.

By this point, we’re all familiar with it. With how it changes the way we communicate and connect, the way we brand ourselves and even the way we plan our weekend.

But a recent example in Ann Arbor shows us that social media has the ability to change something else, too: The way we apply for jobs.

Screen shot 2011-10-11 at 2.41.29 PM.png

Job applicant Lindsay Blackwell's website.

In a world of automated application servers, job applications all too often get lost in an electronic abyss.

Fearful of this black hole, recent University of Michigan grad and hopeful applicant for the just-announced U-M Social Media Director position Lindsay Blackwell launched an online campaign for the job.

Blackwell —who learned of the position by reading an article— created a website and launched a twitter and Facebook campaign for the gig, which is advertised as paying between $90,000 and $110,000.

The website, called, targets U-M Director of Global Communications Lisa Rudgers, her potential boss.

“Maybe you're not Lisa Rudgers. That's cool. Maybe you know somebody who knows somebody who knows Lisa Rudgers,” Blackwell writes. “If you're impressed with what you've seen here, do me a favor--tell somebody. Tell your mother, tell your friends, tell your dog. Tell somebody who might tell somebody who might tell Lisa Rudgers.”

Blackwell said she immediately had friends assisting her in the unusual effort.

"I had all of these people in my social network e-mailing her and calling her office and posting comments on her blog," Blackwell said in an interview.

And her offbeat campaign worked. Blackwell launched the site at 4:30 a.m. Monday morning. Later that day, Rudgers e-mailed her about setting up an interview, Blackwell says.

“Still freaking out. lisa rudgers wants to schedule an interview. i can't even believe it. but this isn't over until i've got the job!,” Blackwell wrote on her Facebook page, which she linked to on her job application website.

The interview is 4 p.m. Monday, according to Blackwell.

"It took off in a way that I never imagined," she says. "I’ve proven that I’m capable of generating buzz quickly."

Blackwell is far from the only applicant who used unusual tactics to get an interview.

CNN reported last year that a man got a New York City advertising job by buying Google ads targeted to his firm of choice. Other reports describe applicants wearing sandwich boards and sending employers video resumes.

A recent article from the Wall Street Journal calls such tactics “extreme job hunting.”

This begs the question: Does extreme job hunting produce extreme results?

Only Lisa Rudgers has the answer. And Blackwell hopes to learn it soon.

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Fri, Oct 21, 2011 : 3:24 p.m.

So many Negative Nellies. Amazing.

Alex Dyson

Thu, Oct 20, 2011 : 8:09 p.m.

A Social Media job paying between $90,000 and $110,000. - Really? Interesting how the University of Michigan prioritizes how it pays employees.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 7:58 a.m.

Lindsay Blackwell deserves to have a social media job somewhere – but probably not at the University of Michigan. She is not ready for such an important position because she does not demonstrated readiness. Here are my brief observations: • Social media is not an end goal but rather a means to an end. Lindsay is knowledgeable about the technical aspects of social media, but not the appropriate use of social media to achieve goals; • The job is about the University of Michigan and its constituent groups, its messaging and its objectives, not about Lindsay's desire to secure the position; • Passion and enthusiasm are admirable traits, but they do not make up for experience, professionalism and discretion; • Lindsay has unfortunately displayed a lack of loyalty to her current employer, the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra, which in most organizations would be grounds for dismissal; • Most importantly, Lindsay has not developed sufficient judgment to understand that she is not ready for the position, as demonstrated by the serious mistakes she has already made. • If Lisa Rudgers were to hire Lindsay for this position, I wonder which would happen first (and how soon): Lindsay getting fired for inappropriate behavior or Lindsay bolting for her next exciting adventure. What the University of Michigan probably needs at this point, even before filling the permanent position of Social Media Director, is an experienced social media guru to develop a comprehensive social media strategy that meets the needs of the university, preferably by passionate alum with the wisdom and experience to deliver.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 2:33 a.m.

I wish I was able to express opinion rightfully on online forums. Apparently the first amendment doesn't exist anymore. Broadcasting your desperation for a job online and having all of your friends bombard someone with calls and emails is unprofessional. You need experience before you deserve to be making 90k+ a year. Even if you can make a fancy website.


Thu, Oct 13, 2011 : 12:52 p.m.

You do realize that the First Amendment DOES NOT APPLY to this situation. The government is not limiting you speech, a private enterprise is. By posting, you agree to follow the rules for "conversation" and if you fail to, the private enterprise has a right to maintain their board in a way that see fit. No one forced you to post, you chose to post something that clearly violated the conversation guidelines in's eyes and it was removed. No one violated your First Amendment rights.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 4:14 p.m.

I am a UM grad who works in PR and communications, and even though I admire her ambition and would probably set up an interview based on the campaign, she would have to overcome hurdles to prove that she is professional and capable of exhibiting decorum and discretion worthy of the University of Michigan. Frankly, I would have a hard time hiring someone for a communications position who used the phrase "...and some other stuff" when listing her accomplishments. Or, "I really, really, really want this job." Social media is casual, but it's still the University of Michigan.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

You are true, there were some sentences that I kind of cringed at, because they were "kid like" grammar, but the overall esthetics of the piece was very well put together. The concept and idea was perfect.

Lionel Hutz

Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

Good for her. Unlike the like the "occupy wall street" crowd, she's trying to make things happen and not waiting for someone else to make it happen for her.

Lionel Hutz

Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

Ron, calm down. It was just a joke. However, you need to arm yourself with knowledge. The occupy wall street group divides the world between the pure 99 percent and the evil 1 percent has nothing to say about education reform, Medicare reform, tax reform, wage stagnation or polarization. They have nothing to say about the way Americans have overconsumed and overborrowed. They have no realistic proposal to reduce the debt or sustain the welfare state. Even if you tax away 50 percent of the income of those making between $1 million and $10 million, you only reduce the national debt by 1 percent, according to the Tax Foundation. If you confiscate all the income of those making more than $10 million, you reduce the debt by 2 percent. The policy proposals that have been floating around the Occupy Wall Street movement — a financial transfer tax, forgiveness for student loans — are marginal. Hope this helps.

Ron Granger

Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 4:46 p.m.

Oh - they are making things happen. They have you fixated on them and talking about them. Though you might have also slipped the stereotypical Obama reference in there somewhere. You know, "and she'd already have a job if not for Obama and liberals hurting the Job Creators!" We've been in multiple un-ending wars for years, with no goals other than enriching the military industrial complex. It's about time this country got back to protesting such absurdity.

Ron Granger

Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Two words come to mind, tacky and overdone. But I suppose that is the style of the time.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

Whoa there UofM1985. No need to come down high and mighty on Davidian. Did you look at the poll numbers? There's a majority who'd want to check this girl out before hiring her. In these days of young people looking at the web for answers or as a quick and easy way to make millions, it is great to see someone with drive and motivation. I hope she can back it up with common sense and a strong work ethic. I gather Davidian and most of the rest of us have that too...holding a $30 billion ego over his head was unneccessary and a bit adolescent. I'd enjoy it if does a follow up on Ms. Blackwell to see how the interview went.

Smart Logic

Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 11:03 a.m.

Gimmicks may be okay to get you noticed, but you should get a job based on skills, experience and personality.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 3:54 a.m.

I see both sides of the issue, 1. How does an applicant stand out from the crowd and 2. Unleashing a wave of unsolicited emails and communications on an unsuspecting person. In this case that's pretty much what the "job" entailed. In another case and/or state, it could be illegal. Everybody recepient is different, one sees creativity while another could see an obnoxious behavior. As long as it's a legal strategy but it would be a shame if the applicant ended up with a criminal record for spamming a potential employer


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 2:40 a.m.

I think her creation is charming. Love the kitty. I did not spot any spelling or grammatical errors (I am constantly amazed by the number of educated young people who lack this capacity), although I would have advised her to use the word "use" rather than "utilize."

Kai Petainen

Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 10:14 p.m.

"thinking outside of the box", initiative, creativity, awesomeness... best of luck!


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 10:10 p.m.

After reading the article, I wasn't sure what to think. However, after going to the website and taking in the whole campaign, i think it is very well done and she deserves serious consideration. She already has a job locally, so it should be easy to check out her references. The online presence speaks for itself.


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 8:22 p.m.

This seems to be an extremely well-paying job for a "first-ever" position like this...apparently the VP for Communications Office is much better funded than the academic units at the U. However, I think Lindsay did a great job, and if she is as impressive in person as on 'screen', then more power to her.


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:59 p.m.

Dear Davidian, As a Senior Executive of Marketing and Communications at a $30 billion global company, I understand why you remain in middle management! Creativity? Drive? Desire to excel? Do YOU have it? This young woman is chasing her dream job by exhibiting her skills in the job. I receive so many "form" cover letters, addressed to "To whom it may concern," this is a refreshing approach that not only shows her talents, but also her drive. Perhaps you could learn a thing or two from this young woman! After all, she got YOU to comment, didn't she???


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 3 p.m.

Easy for you to say hiding behind a computer. I think the reality of having your professional life exposed on someone else's twitter account would have you thinking quite differently. If you can't see all the red flags with this person, then I seriously question your credibility.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

I think this strategy worked (extremely well, might I add) because of the nature of the position LB was seeking, which is social media marketing. It would not be prudent for job seekers in many (perhaps most) other categories. The moral of the story is you have to use different tactics when applying for different types of jobs. People who use the same tactic for every position (especially applying online for 20 jobs every day), without thoughtfully reflecting on the best way to get noticed, simply do not get hired in this climate. There is no one size fits all strategy, and any good career services counselor will tell you that.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.

A senior Executive of Marketing receives "so many "form" cover letters, addressed to "To whom it may concern?" Doesn't your company have a Human Resources Department? I agree with your statements pretty much although creating a webpage with a womans name and the fact that she is a stranger is a little concerning. There are creative ways to get noticed without almost stalking a potential employer or decision maker at a particular employer.


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.

Double "like" Cheers!


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

First off, she is being herself, showing what she is capable of and I for one believe this is great since there are so many people applying for jobs, this makes her stand out above the rest. Yes it is very different and many people can't embrace new ideas and new ways of thinking, but they need to get with the times and be creative and I for one, having a degree in New Media and not having a job in the field I went to school for, applaud Lindsay for her courage and hope she lands a job somewhere where people appreciate her hard work. You Go Girl!


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Elaine, a position in social media isn't about spreading your message as an individual. What it IS about is getting others to spread your message. That's exactly what was orchestrated here. Tweeting and posting things to Facebook doesn't take more than a second. Ms. Blackwell has clearly invested an enormous amount of time and effort to build this website and the brand that she has created for herself. I commend her.

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 8:31 p.m.

or perhaps her skill in getting others to do the job for her?

Elaine F. Owsley

Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:53 p.m.

Having been in positions of hiring, I would prefer to be impressed personally, rather than overwhelmed electronically. Even if what she has done relates to the position, I'd want a reality check before hiring.


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

Would you really want this women working for you? If you do something she doesn't like or perceives as being unfair, you, your boss and friends can read about it on social media. No Thanks!


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

That can already happen with anyone you work with.


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.

Extreme times call for extreme measures. I wish this young woman the best of luck!


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

Well she showed tenacity to get done what she puts her mind to. This is what I would be looking for in a person I plan to pay high scale wages too. She set a goal and planed it's outcome, and produced positive motivation in her inviorment to get what she wanted, and got it. Yeah, a prime candidate if you were to ask me..


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

I think if you're an applicant for the position of "Social Media Director" who has managed to make a website, spark viral interest on Facebook (I've already seen it pop up on mine), and landed a front page news article, all of which regards your application... ...that's solid (and fantastic) proof of candidacy. Good luck, Lindsay Blackwell!


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:25 p.m.

This job position frightens me because it's not just about the social media and having conversations with people. It's the massive amounts of conversations and the ability to answer questions that is going to be the challenge. There are already established social media strategies, but working for a large university that has hundreds of social media channels is going to be difficult to manage. Best of luck to Lindsay! For this position, I think she did the right thing in grabbing Lisa's attention. Whether she gets the job or not will depend on her good old interview skills and social media plan...not the really cool video (which was clever btw).


Tue, Oct 11, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.

I'm a middle manager in a corporate office, and I love people that are creative and want to climb the ladder. But this applicant has crossed so many lines and boundaries and I don't have all day to list them all. Suffice to say that the applicant is coming across as needy, desperate, unprofessional, immature, and completely lacking in discretion (e.g. posting all about the process on social media). Interview? Not on your life. I've found that being professional, congenial, and competent is the key to landing a job, especially one that is paying six figures. Persistence is also important--but this is a case where it persistence turned to pressure tactics and was taken way too far.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

Perhaps that is why you are still a middle manager.


Wed, Oct 12, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

Call me crazy, but I think it's premature to start passing judgment on this young lady's ability to be discrete. Blackwell hasn't revealed any more about this process than allowing the world to see an interactive cover letter and revealing that she was offered an interview. And I use the word "process" loosely; if you actually read this article, you'll note that she launched her site Monday morning. Does three days (or 36 hours, per Davidian's comment) really constitute a "process?" Her discretion and integrity as a candidate will be evident in how she manages this campaign AFTER her interview. Furthermore, as VP of communications, Rudgers already has an online presence. But I don't think Blackwell needed to use that to find her; if you read the article about the job posting, it opens with "When Lisa Rudgers left…" And who knows, maybe Ms. Rudgers is loving this. Blackwell is drawing attention to the university, the communications office, and the job posting. You can't pay for this type of coverage (at least, not until you hire a social media director).