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A Young Job Hunter’s Advice

Dianez Smith of Silver Spring, Md., spent a year looking for a job with management potential. She finally found one by standing on a sidewalk.

KIPLINGER: You held a sign at one of the busiest corners in Washington, D.C. What happened?

SMITH: I was out there from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on a Wednesday. I got a call at 10:30 a.m. asking if I was available for a job interview in an hour, at Document Technologies, which provides printing services for law firms. I went on that interview and soon got the job.

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How many job interviews did you have before that? One, since July of last year. In the meantime, I worked at a bike store.

Why the difficulty? I graduated from college in May 2010. For many of the jobs I was seeking, employers asked for five years’ experience, which no recent grad is going to have.

How did you come up with the idea for the sign? I posted a note on my Facebook page, saying, “Holding up sign, will work for entry-level position.” A bunch of my friends “liked” it. One friend said I should do it for real.

Isn’t going from social media to a street corner drastic? I was fed up with searching the normal way and tired of rejection because I was a recent grad.

What does your new job involve? I’m working at a law firm where I assist paralegals and occasionally lawyers with their projects, but I also work at the front desk. This job lets me use my administrative and customer-service skills in a professional setting. Also, it gives me a foot in the door to a management position. As I move up the ladder, I could become an operations manager. It’s the experience I need for facilities management, which is my interest.

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How did you feel about seeking a job so publicly? I’m always looking to try new things. I felt I had been told no so many times that it didn’t really matter if people said no to me again. I’m kind of used to nos.

Did your family support your strategy? I live with my grandmother. She said that if you apply for a lower-level position, you should get it. She didn’t understand that it’s not that simple to get an entry-level job anymore.

How would you counsel other new grads? My advice is: Be bold.

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