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The right 300 words may get you a job, beach house

A Key West adventure outfitter has created a unique hiring method.

By ROBBYN MITCHELL
Published July 2, 2006


The executive position in Key West pays $75,000 a year and includes free upscale housing near the beach.

For the right 300 words, it's yours.

Lazy Dog Island Outfitters & Outdoor Adventure Co. is sponsoring the "Win a Job in Key West" contest to find a creative sales executive who will push the business to the next level without making it corporate.

Company founder Sue Cooper came up with the idea of making their hiring process a competition, where anyone of any experience level could apply for the position based on a 300-word essay. She thought it fit perfectly with the company's anti-corporate message.

The company chose Key West as a base because the area is having a hard time repopulating and attracting professionals after Hurricane Wilma, said Jacquelyn Nacol, a company spokeswoman.

Since March, top people at Lazy Dog have sifted through all the applications and chose 10 to 15 favorites a month.

Lazy Dog will continue to accept applications and choose favorites until April 2007 and then will select 10 finalists to fly to Key West for final interviews to pick the winner. "A lot of our applicants are in the rat race and don't have any place to express their creative energies," Nacol said.

St. Petersburg resident Tracy Connolly is one of the 40 favorites who have been chosen to date.

Connolly, 35, said she heard about the contest on National Public Radio and decided to check it out online. "I loved that they were really focused on dogs because I love my dog," she said of her border collie-shelty mix, Casey.

If she wins, Connolly said the move won't be a big deal to her husband of seven years, Sean. An adventurous couple, Connolly said they've traveled together a lot, before and during their marriage.

"We like challenges. We're not really 9 to 5 people," she said.

Lazy Dog, which offers kayak and boating trips in Key West as well as clothing with pictures of Cooper's well traveled dog, prides itself on working in relaxed environments and adding adventure to employees' lives.

Connolly, currently a national sales manager for a hotel, said that's right up her alley. "I was actually saying the other day that I sit at my job for 10 hours a day and that can't be healthy," she said. "I would love to have a job that's physically stimulating as well as mentally."

And if she's chosen as a finalist and wins the job, Connolly has big plans for her first day in Key West. "I'm going to take my dog to the beach and show her around her new neighborhood."

HOW IT WORKS

You can enter the Lazy Dog Island Outfitters & Outdoor Adventure Company "Win a Job in Key West" contest at winajobinkeywest.com by submitting your resume with a 300-word essay on why you want the job and a $10 processing fee.