Attention-getting tricks: some bomb, but some get the job.
It’s still tough out there, with too many candidates chasing too few openings. You may have heard experts say that job seekers need to stand out from the crowd and never give up. But what’s bold and inspired to one hiring manager can seem obnoxious–or insane–to another. Do attention-getting stunts work? And how have some job seekers gone too far?
Stalking via social media
Social media has an etiquette that some users haven’t mastered, according to Michelle Madhok, CEO and editor of SheFinds.com: “I use social media to find candidates, but one job seeker kept contacting me on various sites, wanting to know if I had made a decision,” Madhok says. “My advice: Don’t keep messaging on Twitter asking for a job. One inquiry is okay; otherwise, remember the rule Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’”
Seemingly, that rule also applies to direct-message tweets.
Then there’s the job candidate who “friended” Berit Brogaard, associate professor of philosophy and psychology at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. “I accepted the friend request. He then decided to ‘like’ most of my links and give them status updates until we decided on a different candidate.”
Making the resume too unique
Executive recruiter Kim Bishop has seen a variety of wacky queries, including one large package containing the message “Will work for food,” and resumes comparing themselves to Broadway shows and to NCAA tournaments. “One person asked whether he should send an employer confetti in an envelope. I said, ‘Think about it: would you want confetti all over your desk?’”
Standing on the corner with a sign
Betsy Richards, director of personal brand strategy at Kaplan University, shared the story of a college graduate who became impatient when he hadn’t heard back from a company (not Kaplan) and took it to the next level. “He didn’t call the hiring manager, nor did he try to reach out to the company using the typical methods. Instead, he made a big poster saying, ‘Hire Me! I can help your company,’ and stood on the street corner of the company’s offices for a week.” Did he get the job? “Not to my knowledge,” Richards says.
Sending very creepy letters
Author and productivity consultant Barry Maher relates the story of a PR job seeker who got too much attention–the wrong kind. “He went to the website and found the names and contact info of everyone he figured would be making the final decision on the hiring. Then, cutting out letters from a newspaper, he sent each board member a series of letters. The first had just his first name, ‘John.’ The second read, ‘John Smith.’ Then ‘John Smith Is,’ ‘John Smith Is Going,’ ‘John Smith Is Going to,’ and ‘John Smith Is Going to Blow.’ Then, apparently thinking he was clever enough to avoid creating a problem message, the next letter added two words rather than one. It read, ‘John Smith Is Going to Blow You Away!’ Which is when the police showed up at his door.”
Using food bribes
Jim Hornickel, director of training and development at Bold New Directions, recalled hearing about a colleague who was sent a three-layered, lavishly decorated cake with a wedge missing. “The accompanying note read, ‘I am the missing piece of your team’s puzzle.’” In this case, the candidate did get the job.
Can wacky work?
Abby Kohut, the author of “Absolutely Abby’s 101 Job Search Secrets,” shares another food-bribe story. “A friend of mine in marketing sent 10 chocolate shoes to hiring managers saying, ‘I’d like to get my foot in the door’–and received 10 requests for an interview.”
The cake and chocolate-shoe examples show that, once in a while, job-search stunts work. But they must be applied very carefully. “Being one notch overboard can work to differentiate yourself in this highly competitive job market, but you really have to know the industry, the company, and even the hiring manager’s norms,” says Hornickel.
Career coach Bettina Seidman advises sending little “extras” when they are relevant to the job: “If a graphic designer sends a fabulous storyboard or another example of his or her work along with a resume, then that can work. If a labor-relations expert sends a copy of a new collective bargaining that he or she negotiated, that’s good. However, stalkers or flower senders or applicants who send their resumes in a huge envelope–none of this works. If a candidate shows signs of over-the-top actions or mental illness, they lose.”
And most hiring managers will tell that if you don’t have the goods, all the stunts in the world won’t land you the job. “There are very basic things that many people forget about in their quest to stand out: a well-written resume, a well-written intro email that is concise and highlights the experience and skills for the role, and an intro from someone who knows the person are always helpful,” Bishop says.
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