Despite your eclectic work experience, impressive collection of internships, and applaudable top-tier schooling, getting noticed amidst a heaping pile of resumes is no easy feat. This is especially true for highly-coveted companies like Facebook or Google, where it would take an archaeological mission just to excavate your resume from the mound of applications. Oh, the throes of living the job seeker life. You need to customize your resume to complement each new position you apply for, perform in-depth research of your potential employer to ace your interview, and more importantly, you need to be memorable if you want to seperate yourself from the swarm of hungry competitors.
Because of this, a number of job seekers have chosen to scrap traditional application methods in an effort to capture an employer’s attention. From Leah Bowman’s Lego job application to Jessica Stahl’s ingenious Bloody Creative line of agency-inspired Bloody Mary’s, job seekers are leveraging their creativity to stand out from their competition. If you're feeling the itch to get creative, here are some pointers on how to do it tastefully.
Showcase Your Skills & Personality
If you’re going to go the extra mile, then whatever you elect to create should be a testimony to your individual perspective and work style. Rather than plastering a photo of yourself on top of some chocolate-frosted cupcakes, create something that is authentic to your skill set and demonstrates how your individual talent can contribute to the success of the company.
When it comes to the growing trend in unconventional applications, Rosemary Haefner, Chief Human Resources Officer at CareerBuilder, says “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. For example, one candidate made a “Top Ten” list of reasons to hire him. But while these tactics may succeed in impressing hiring managers, what ultimately determines if they get the job is having the necessary skills and experience hiring managers are looking for.”
The comment from Haefner followed a survey conducted by CareerBuilder, which unveiled some of the craziest stunts job seekers have used to get noticed. The findings included a list of #EpicFails, like a candidate who set fire to her resume as a metaphor for her ‘burning desire’ to land the gig. Ba-dum-tshh. While her performance sure garnered attention, it was for all the wrong reasons – and thankfully, it didn’t require assistance from the fire department. You only have one opportunity to make a first impression, avoid pulling a stunt that will have your potential employer calling security.
Show & Tell: Talent Edition
If you’re in the creative space, demonstrating your strengths via a portfolio is a crucial part of nabbing a new role. Like an elementary school class of show-and-tell, you never want to be empty-handed when it’s your turn to share. Companies are looking for individual’s who can bring fresh, creative solutions to the table. Rather than cross your fingers and hope that hiring managers can conceptualize the idea you’re trying to convey, show them you can execute on it. Even if it’s only a small sample of the larger vision, you’ll display your hands-on ability to carry out a project.
Ditch the Gimmicks
Just because an occasional success story of some gimmicky stunt invades the internet, doesn’t mean you should follow suit. Posing as a donut delivery man certainly may have worked for Lukas Yla, but his experience is the exception to the rule. Most employers turn a cold shoulder to flashy gimmicks as they lack authenticity and fail to showcase the potential value an individual could bring to their organization.
Some job seekers crave that coveted spotlight so badly that they neglect to consider the aftermath of their antics. If you mail a large package, for example, someone will be responsible for distributing the contents to the appropriate parties and possibly cleaning up any mess that may ensue, which can be off-putting to the employer. The bottom line is gimmicks tend to lack personality and aren’t an optimal way to accentuate the strength or scope of your skills.
A Positive Impression Stems from Value
Sander Saar, head of strategy and business development for non-linear media international at the Walt Disney Company, understood the significance of advertising his skills in a strategic manner. As a recent grad back in 2012, Saar knew he wanted to communicate his value in an unconventional way. He decided to create a Kickstarter page, which was relatively new at the time, and demonstrate his knack for manipulating a new platform in a fresh and innovative way.
The effort landed him 15 interviews in the first day it was launched. His project was crafted to highlight his digital media skills, his ability to execute on an idea, and how he could be an asset to an employer. Saar is a great example of a job seeker who leveraged his talent in a creative way to score the attention of potential employers. For those who decide to go a similar route, remember that you need to show why you’d be a valuable addition to the company you are applying for.