Can Unusual Job Search Antics Prevail During This Rough Economy?

It would appear that when it comes to catching a potential employer’s eye and landing a job in the United States today, things are rather like that old Cole Porter song of the 1930s, namely, Anything Goes.


Gimmicks are being used more than ever before to get that potential foot in that all-important door. Some are funny, some ingenious, but all reflect a dearth of jobs and surplus of applicants in an unstable economy.

According to an online survey conducted for Career Builder by Harris Interactive among 2,543 full-time hiring managers and human resource professionals between February 20 and March 11, 2009, almost a fifth of hiring managers are seeing more and more unconventional tactics being used by desperate job seekers.

One job seeker punched a hole in his business card and gave it an interviewer claiming the hole represented what was lacking in the company; namely himself in the position applied for!

Another clever fellow attached a shoe to his resume in hopes of “getting his foot in the door.” It would seem indeed that “anything goes” in these tight times marked by the highest unemployment rate in the last twenty-five years!


In the words of Jason Ferrara, senior career adviser at CareerBuilder:

“The search for employment is taking longer and is more competitive than it has been in past years. To compensate, some candidates have turned to extreme tactics.”

And extreme they certainly are. Some potential employees have been known to devise a most unique and desperate bag of tricks that would even impress the likes of Harry Houdini. Some of these include: handing out resumes at stoplights, washing cars in a company parking lot, staging a sit-in in a company lobby to demand a meeting with a director, sending a cake designed as a business card with the candidate’s picture, handing out personalized coffee cups and going to the same barber as the company chairman to have the barber speak on his behalf!


Again according to Ferrara:

“While unusual job search antics may attract the attention of hiring managers, they need to be done with care and professionalism so that candidates are remembered for the right reasons. Candidates have a short window to make a lasting impression on potential employers. Those who apply resourcefulness and an inventive approach to their job search may have a better chance of standing out in the minds of hiring managers…”

Still, even creativity can backfire. Consider the case of one Mr. Schwagler who made his way to the reception desk of a company he wanted to work for armed with a bouquet of sunflowers, a clipboard, an emergency Candy gram and several copies of his résumé. He got past security and waited patiently for the recruiter that he wanted to meet to come and pick up her “delivery.”

When she did arrive at the desk, he confessed his ruse and handed the lady his resume. He was told that she “had an appointment but would get back to him at a later date”, ominous words for a man who had just breached and embarrassed the security sector of a large corporation and humiliated a recruiter.

Of course our man followed up on his visit one week later and when asked to speak to the recruiter was forwarded to the head of security who informed him in no uncertain terms what would happen to his head and other body parts should he dare to darken their corporate doorstep again.

This would inform all who care to listen that the world is not yet ready for that much creativity. Your cleverness, in order to achieve the desired results, cannot come at the expense of another’s embarrassment and/or humiliation.


In the words of good old Schwagler himself:

“I think the take-away can be shortened to three words: Sometimes, creativity hurts.”

On the other hand, sometimes creativity is the clincher. Consider the case of a candidate who got a recent position at a PR agency through a job board post. He sent in his resume applying for the position of executive vice president, a post for which he was highly qualified.

A bit later he saw the ad re-posted and sent his resume again adding to it his own humorous rejection letter. He asked the company to send it back to him so that he would at least know that they looked at it. His actions landed him both an interview and a job for what the interviewer called “his creative persistence.”

While bribery is not recommended as a course of action if you are aiming for a job in political office, it might work as a ploy to get past a corporate receptionist. It certainly did work in the case of one man who dressed in his best interview suit and brought a dozen Krispy Kreme donuts up to the reception desk. He told her they were all yours if she could wangle placing his resume at the top of the pile on her desk, which she promptly did. Although our guy did not land the desired position, the doughnuts opened the door for an interview, which he promptly got.

And so my friends, find your own magic bag of tricks and place them inside the hat of your choice (atop your best interview attire of course). Anything really does go in these hard times and is fodder for that old proverb about what’s fair in love and war. (Just add job seeking to the options.)

Here’s some tips that might help you out (just sprinkle your own creativity in and shake.)

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  1. joanne says:

    thanks for the tips! send those employers my way! I need all the tips I can get!