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Billboard got attention, but not a job for Conn. woman

Robin Hamilton
Billboard got attention, but not a job for Conn. woman
With employment opportunities few and far between, Pasha Stocking, a 37-year-old resident of East Hampton, Conn., took a gamble of renting a billboard (shown above) along a busy stretch of Interstate 95 in Bridgeport at a cost of $2,500 for four weeks. Stocking received offers, but none that she wanted. (Image courtesy of http://www.hirepasha.com)

Pasha Stocking believes in taking chances.

The latest example of that is the enormous billboard she rented overlooking a busy section of Interstate 95 in Bridgeport, Conn.

In big, bold letters, it declared, “Hire Me! Unemployed and Seeking employment. hirepasha.com.”

 “I knew I was taking a risk by doing it,” she explains.

As she tells the story, she had few other choices. After countless dead-end job searches, she said the billboard was a means to an end.

Stocking found herself unemployed a year ago after her firm let her go. Ironically, the company was owned by her father. He had recruited her to be director of sales and marketing for his crisis intervention company. She worked there for eight months.

According to Stocking, her father was bracing for the bad economy and wasn’t sure he could afford to keep her position. She was stunned.

“I had left my previous job of 16 years because he asked me to work for him,” she says. “It was actually a new position he was creating, and I guess he hadn’t thought it through. To this day, I have no idea what was going through his head.”

The 37-year-old single mother of three says she was stung even more by the fact that he didn’t slash everyone on the staff.

“He kept his administrative assistant, but got rid of me,” she says.

She began pounding the pavement, but soon found that opportunities were few and far between. As the economy continued to worsen, she began to wonder if employers were even seeing her information in the flood of hundreds of other applicants.

“I got to the point where I was so fed up,” she sighs. “I don’t even think people are looking at résumés anymore.”

Exasperated, she took matters into her own hands. She brokered a deal with an ad company, received a discounted rate of $2,500, and placed an ad on a billboard for a month.

The response was immediate, if not intense.

“There were a lot of people from out of state who were interested,” she recalls.

Initially, Stocking says she had a number of opportunities — but none were exactly what she was looking for.

“I got a lot of job offers, like mid-level job offers, but also sales commission jobs, like Mary Kay,” she says.

There were also more unsavory inquiries. “People asked me if I wanted to do a reality show, if I wanted to model,” she says, incredulous.

She gained national exposure, too. After several local Connecticut news outlets shared her story, she was interviewed by CNN and Fox News, and profiled in a New York Times article.

Stocking admits that the attention was great, but says it didn’t lead to much.

“No position came through,” she says.

Career coach Kathy Robinson says Stocking’s approach may have backfired.

“On the one hand, it’s great to see someone thinking creatively and proactively about their job search, instead of just using online job boards,” Robinson explains. “On the other hand, this particular approach, although creative, falls short for two reasons.”

Robinson says that the wording of the billboard is not focused enough to speak to the right employers.

“Instead of just saying she’s unemployed, perhaps a sign clarifying the kind of role she’s seeking, such as ‘Need a top sales/marketing person? Hire Me!’” Robinson says.

However, Robinson still advises against emulating Stocking’s tactic.

“She’s hoping that someone she doesn’t know will appreciate her boldness and entrepreneurial spirit,” Robinson says. “But with this sign, she also may come across as a little desperate or self-promotional, two qualities that aren’t appealing to employers in a job search and may actually stop people from calling her.”

The approach Robinson recommends is saving the money, and instead using those resources to attend more events and network, or take people out to lunch in hopes of finding other opportunities.

Stocking says that her approach has, at a minimum, broadened her network. She says the financial hit was painful, but still she believes she did the right thing.

“I’m a risk taker, and I don’t want to look back in five years and say I regret [not doing] it,” she explains. “I’m not the pity-party type of person.”

The billboard is now down, and Stocking says she is back to the drawing board, thinking of the next best way to find a job offer.