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Job Hunting, One Dallas Intersection at a Time

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Kwaku Twumasi had been out of work for seven months when he decided to try a new approach to job hunting -- right, the very one you see above. The 34-year-old SMU Cox School of Business graduate had exhausted the more traditional routes of job scouting, like mailing resumes and networking with fellow alum. Nothing had worked.

He said to himself, "How can I get myself to be noticed? I don't need 50 jobs. I just need one." So he began driving around Dallas in his '98 Tahoe until the cost of gas became too expensive. Now he chooses spots of high visibility and parks for a few hours at a time. Yesterday, when we ran into him, Twumasi was parked at McKinney Avenue and Knox Street. He arrived just before 5 p.m.; we saw him a little after 7. No bites.

He had been reading a passage from the Bible for discussion at church this Sunday. The words were written in his native tongue, Akan, the language of Ghana. Twumasi is a citizen and moved to Dallas back in 1995. He picked up another book laying on his passenger seat: a 1,000-page business text called Principles of Corporate Finance.

Twumasi happens to be looking for a job at a time when our statewide unemployment rate is steadily climbing. Take a look at how Twumasi's experiences correlate with the state's reported labor statistics:

In 2007, when Twumasi graduated from SMU, statewide unemployment was holding steady at a rate of 4.4, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. He had a job for about a year, but was laid off in November 2008, when the unemployment rate had risen to 5.4. And by the time he painted the windows of his Tahoe, in June, the statewide unemployment rate had reached an intimidating 7.5. (The historical high for Texas was 9.3 in October of 1986.)

Surely, we thought, his dedication must be paying off.

"You'd be surprised," he said. "I've done this for almost two months now and only three calls."

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