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Top 10 Things Job Seekers Should Not Do To Get Attention

A recent survey from CareerBuilder has a list of “off-the-wall tactics job seekers used to stand out” in their job search.

After reading them I thought:

“Whoa, what were they thinking?”

I get that one wants to stand out in a crowd and I get that just sending a resume and cover letter is sometimes not enough to get noticed but… dude.

There are easier ways… there are more professional ways to gets a hiring manager’s attention than these:

  • Candidate found out where the hiring manager was having dinner and picked up the tab.
  • 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 had a cake delivered to the hiring manager with the words “Congratulations! [candidate's name] got the 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 of those are maybe funny. A few weird. And a couple just freaking creepy.

Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, has some “do’s” and “dont’s”:

  • Don’t confuse pestering with persistence. Most hiring managers don’t mind –and even appreciate – a follow up phone call or email, as it indicates enthusiasm and initiative. Bombarding the hiring manager with phone calls or emails, however, can come across as desperate, annoying or even creepy.
  • Do know your audience. What charms one hiring manager may turn another one off. 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.
  • Do 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.

Yes a job search can be stressful particularly if times are difficult. And I understand that we feel like we need to find a way to be remembered. But common sense has to rule the day.

I know some of my Marketing, PR and Agency friends will push back a bit. And they may be correct. In their world many of the things above are common.

For the 98% of the rest of us… not so much.


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