Husband uses billboards to help wife find employmentWritten by Don Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Holly Stuard’s husband put her name up in lights to help her find a job.
Specifically, on two electronic billboards that greet thousands of travelers and commuters each day at two major Glass City intersections.
The Sylvania woman, who ran the University of Toledo’s Master of Business Administration program until budget cuts did away with the job, has spent the past year going through the highs and lows of the professional job search.
She’d included a bit of the new amid the tried and true — email alerts to augment the networking and customized résumés and cover letters — and tried to remind herself it wasn’t her but rather that hundreds of qualified people were seeking each of the jobs she wanted.
And a résumé or cover letter is seen, at most, by a few people within each organization. So how do you get your name to stand out in front of thousands of people?
“I could see the frustration setting in,” Holly’s husband Brandon said.
The proverbial light bulb went on one day over Brandon’s head, as the Lucas County sheriff’s deputy was driving home from work.
“I saw all these billboards,” he said. Why not put his wife’s face and name on one?
Starting Aug. 27, Holly Stuard’s face appeared on electronic billboards at the Anthony Wayne Trail and Erie Street, close to Downtown, and on Sylvania Avenue and Talmadge Road on the West Side.
It wasn’t too expensive, he said, because you share space with other advertisers, you can get electronic billboard space for $60 to $100 a day. And the billboards’ owners, Tolson Media and Lamar Advertising, “gave me a break because of what I was trying to do,” he said.
It’s not the first time someone’s gone the billboard route looking for a job. In May, a 22-year-old laid-off casino employee scored a design job with a $300 ad on a Minnesota billboard, according to the website businessinsider.com. And although a Connecticut woman didn’t get a job from her $7,000 billboard ad, she did start up a public relations firm that emphasized billboard ads, according to thefrisky.com.
Holly had no idea what her husband was trying to do.
“I’m pretty sure if I’d said to her, ‘Hey, let’s put your face up on a billboard,’ she would have said ‘No,’” Brandon said, laughing, and Holly concurred.
It was her older son who actually noticed the ad, as the family was driving to dinner at a favorite restaurant on the West Side.
“Hey, Mama,” the 4-year-old said. “That looks like you on that billboard.”
“I didn’t know what to make of it,” Holly said. “I had to go back and look.”
What she saw was herself, in business attire, smiling down at drivers next to a bright banner that states, “Please Hire My Wife,” along with an email address and a checklist highlighting her academic and business experience.
“It was a complete surprise,” she said.
Has it worked?
In the few days the sign has been up, there haven’t been any inquiries from employers, Holly said, but word has spread among family and friends’ Facebook pages.
“I’m going to try to have fun with it,” she said.
“There’s definitely a lot of highs and lows in the job search process. Lots of different jobs sound intriguing, that I could be passionate about, really enjoy. You get your hopes up, set on something, and nothing happens.
“You feel like you’re starting from Square One again. It can be frustrating.”
But the billboards have been a boost for Holly, whose dream job would consist of giving co-workers and her employer a figurative shot in the arm.
From her UT job recruiting and mentoring master’s candidates to her previous job at a management consulting firm developing accounts and before that, as a UT assistant volleyball coach for the team on which she’d played as an undergraduate Rocket — her career has been one of coaching, teaching and guiding.
“My dream job would be a position of leading, training and developing people withi an organization,” she said.
And even if the billboard doesn’t directly result in a job, she said, seeing her name up in lights has put a little spring in a step that’s gotten used to trudging from one disappointment to another.
“It’s brought a new life, a new energy, a new excitement,” to the job search, she said.