Some job applicants will go to outrageous lengths to to make a lasting impression.
An impressive resume, a groomed appearance, a sparkling personality; that’s certainly one way job candidates can impress a hiring manager. Or you might find out where the hiring manager is having dinner and pick up the tab.
That’s just one of the unusual ways job seekers have succeeded in getting a hiring manager’s attention—but not necessarily the job, according to a new CareerBuilder survey.
“Job seekers know they’re competing with a lot of other candidates, so they’re trying more unusual tactics to stand out from the crowd,” Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, said in a statement.
A survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers revealed some of the outrageous tactics job applicants have employed to make a lasting impression. In that they certainly succeeded, but just not in the way they intended. Among the most memorable:
- Candidate lit a corner of their resume on fire to show their "burning desire" for the job.
- Candidate had his daughter call the hiring manager in advance of the interview to thank the hiring manager “for giving her dad a job.”
- Candidate answered a call during the interview stating that another company was calling to discuss a job offer.
- Candidate sat on the floor during the interview and asked the hiring manager to take a picture of him with the company mascot.
- Candidate tried to impress the hiring manager with the history of the business, which was incorrect.
- Candidate had her resume gift-wrapped.
- Candidate showed pictures of their relatives working at the company many years prior.
- Candidate acted like a game show host.
- Candidate brought a bag of props into the interview and pulled them out as they were relevant in the questions/answers.
- Candidate sent the hiring manager a coupon for a free meal.
Some stunts, though, actually work and even go viral. Earlier this year, Nina Mufleh successfully applied to Airbnb with an online resume that aped the company’s website. Last year, Leah Bowman, seeking internships, used Lego Digital Designer to create a brick incarnation of herself and advertised herself as “the missing piece” for the companies to whom she applied. Another job candidate really shined by adorning her family’s usual holiday light display with the message, “My wish, HR Job.”
Haefner suggests the following DO’s and DON’Ts for job seekers hoping to stand out in a good way.
· Don’t confuse pestering with persistence. Follow-up phone call or email; good. Bombardment of phone calls and emails; stalkery.
· Know your audience. You can’t always predict what will work for one company and what won’t. Just keep in mind, however, that a company that doesn’t appreciate your unique line of thinking might not be the company that’s right for you.
· Don’t overthink it. Sometimes the simplest approach to getting a hiring manager’s attention can be a powerful one. For several hiring managers, the novelty of receiving a handwritten thank you note was enough to make a candidate stand out.
· Keep your eyes on the prize. Don’t let your unusual approach distract from what you’re really trying to do: Sell your skills and qualifications. Even when trying an unusual approach, tie it back to your skills and why you are qualified for the job.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.