On Saturday, Carrie Kemeling quit her job. By Monday she had an interview and 13 other employers offering her a position.
While the local job market is rebounding, it doesn’t explain the 28-year-old’s quick turnaround. But Kemeling’s unusual job search stunt does.
“I wanted to do something different; instead of just emailing a piece of my work history or dropping my résumé off on somebody’s desk,” she said.
So in a spot on Niagara Street in Buffalo where motorists exiting the Niagara Thruway are often greeted by homeless people holding cardboard signs asking for money or food, Kemeling posted her own sign: “Not Homeless But Hungry for Success!! Take A Résumé.”
“If people can give money to somebody who is homeless and not looking for work, they can also help someone who is trying to help themselves,” she said. “I believe this is going to be a success story. People want to see self-motivation. And I’m not giving up on myself and never will.”
Kemeling stood on the pedestrian crossing island, handing her résumé like a baton to rush-hour motorists until lunch time Monday. A man brought her coffee and a woman said a prayer for Kemeling while at the yield sign.
“I’ve gotten lots and lots of positive support,” she said. “I’ve had few people stop and walk over to me to get a résumé. And some people have given me the thumbs up, so I’m feeling the Buffalo love.”
The Buffalo Niagara region has been adding jobs at a pace that has averaged 1.4 percent through the first four months of this year, almost double the growth rate from all of 2014. But Kemeling’s moxie is bringing her unusual success in the job market.
On Friday, before she quit her job, she was at the site, and 20 people took her résumé. On Monday, she handed out 50 more and had a job interview at a temp agency by the afternoon.
Kemeling said she was offered a position but didn’t accept it because the compensation “wasn’t what she wanted.”
Kemeling is a native of Charleston, S.C. She moved to Buffalo in 2012, looking for a new start and settled in the Elmwood Village. “I didn’t even have a job when I moved here,” she said. “I chose Buffalo because who doesn’t want to live in 8 feet of snow? And I love chicken wings.”
Kemeling had worked as a sales representative at Brian Michael’s Jewelers in the Town of Tonawanda for almost three years until quitting Saturday.
“Even though I had a job, I’m still looking for better and I know I’m better,” she said. “I’m looking to find a company who is willing to invest in me and I’m investing in them as well. I’m really extremely trainable.”
She said she’d been “looking to advance myself for the past year. I sent résumés but didn’t get a response. So now I have the time to stand here and actually put myself out there. If I’m going to give my résumé to someone, I want to give it to someone who wants it.”
She said her strengths are in retail sales, marketing and creativity, pointing to her unorthodox job search as an example.
Kemeling has a high school diploma, and before coming to Buffalo, worked as a teller at a credit union in South Carolina.
She said she left the jewelers last week because she was overlooked for a promotion.
But Brian Levine, owner of the business, said Kemeling wasn’t up for a promotion. An opening for an assistant manager was filled, but Kemeling didn’t have any management experience. He and his staff remain baffled by her abrupt departure from the company, Levine said.
After four hours on the island, Kemeling had more than a dozen employers offering positions, including the temp agency, a shredding company and an online startup. But Kemeling plans to return to the Thruway exit on Tuesday.
“I want to keep my options open,” she said. “I want to give other candidates a chance. There might be others out there who are interested in hiring me.”
Furthermore, Kemeling said she’s looking “for a career, not a job.” Her ideal position?
“Working for Donald Trump as his secretary,” she laughed. “Who knows? Anything is possible.”