In a job search, it’s hard to go wrong with a solid set of basics: resume, cover letter, firm handshake. But sometimes getting the job you want means getting a little creative, and thinking outside the applicant box. After all, if a hiring manager is going to look at hundreds (and maybe thousands?) of job applications, it can’t hurt to stand out from the crowd if the time and place is right. Let’s look at six daring aspirants who stepped outside the usual—and succeeded. Then, see if you can use some smarts and creativity to adapt their stunts into something that will wow hiring managers in your field.
1. Let them come to you.
Frustrated with his post-college job search, Andrew Horner decided to turn the tables and get potential employers to come to him. He created a website listing some pertinent details about himself, and closing with an application for potential employers. His risky gamble ultimately paid off. If you can think of a way to bring people to your resume, rather than the other way around, go for it.
2. Put your face where they can’t miss it.
Designer Miguel Rato showcased his skills by putting his face and professional stats on a mocked-up milk carton to grab the attention of potential employers, making sure to include his skills, experience, and bio. Having seen what they were, indeed, “missing,” a potential employer soon found him and offered him a job. This one is over the top, but the lesson you can take from it is that creativity, when done well, is usually rewarded.
3. Tailor your pitch as specifically as possible.
Designer Eric Gandhi wanted to work at Google, so he decided to make his resume look like a Google search results page to show how well he could fit in with the Google vibe. Eventually, the graphic made its way to a Google employee, who helped Eric score an interview. If you make sure to let a company know that you’re not simply copy/pasting your application materials and that you really want to work there, you’re sure to stand out more.
4. Think big.
While of course you should always reach for the stars and put everything you have into every application, one guy took this very literally. Recent grad Adam Pacitti was frustrated with his job search, and decided to crowdsource the process. He put up a billboard in his native England, saying simply, “I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job.” The billboard linked to a webpage containing his resume, and ultimately got him hired (not to mention a lot of attention).
5. Say it in song.
While karaoke in a job interview is usually frowned not the best idea, account executive Arielle LaGuette decided to get attention for her job application by writing a song about the company. After posting her custom song to YouTube and having a friend at the company pass it along to the powers that be, LaGuette followed up with her (more traditional) resume and cover letter. Presumably the song was catchy, because she got the gig. Don’t go too out there for more traditional companies, but if you think your dream gig would be open to some kookiness, it just might work in your favor.
6. Dress your resume for success.
You know the old saying, “dress for the job you want, not the job you have?” That kind of aspirational dress code can work for resumes, too. Luis Magalhaes was seeking a job that went beyond his experience, so went for the fanciest package possible: a book-like cover, high-quality paper, and a minimalist design. And it worked—his care and attention to his resume made his application stand out, and scored him an interview.
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