The strangest things job seekers have done to get hired




When it comes to getting the attention of potential employers, being a little out there can be a good thing – but a little goes a long way. Here are four do's and don'ts for job seekers hoping to stand out for the right reasons.

There's "crazy good" – and then there's just plain crazy. When it comes to getting the attention of potential employers, being a little out there can be a good thing, but a little goes a long way, as some candidates have found out the hard way. CareerBuilder's new study about unusual job seeker efforts to stand apart, conducted among 1,078 hiring managers, makes it clear that some job seekers don't know where to draw the line between getting noticed – and getting notoriety.

When we asked hiring managers for their accounts of job seekers' most off-the-wall stunts, they didn't hold back. These were the best of the best (err – worst of the worst?). You be the judge):
The candidate…
  1. …found out where the hiring manager was having dinner and picked up the tab.
  2. …lit a corner of their resume on fire to show their "burning desire" for the job.
  3. …had a cake delivered to the hiring manager with the words "Congratulations! [candidate's name] got the job!"
  4. …answered a call during the interview stating that another company was calling to discuss a job offer.
  5. …sat on the floor during the interview and asked the hiring manager to take a picture of him with the company mascot.
  6. …tried to impress the hiring manager with the history of the business, which was incorrect.
  7. …had her resume gift-wrapped.
  8. …showed pictures of their relatives working at the company many years prior.
  9. …acted like a game show host.
  10. …brought a bag of props into the interview and pulled them out as they were relevant in the questions/answers.
  11. …sent the hiring manager a coupon for free meal.
  12. …had his daughter call the hiring manager in advance of the interview to thank the hiring manager "for giving her dad a job."
Clever -- or cloying?
Hiring managers gave a mixed bag of reactions when it came to whether they thought job seekers' off-the-wall tactics were effective.
On one hand, candidates should get props for trying to stand apart among the sometimes hundreds of others vying for the same position. Unfortunately, "props" don't necessarily equate to employment.
As Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder, advises – candidates are wise to focus more on making sure their skills and experience are up to par than on whether that "I love ABC Company" tattoo will land them the job:
"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."
So how can you as a candidate get smarter about your own methods for standing out – and get real, positive attention for your efforts?

Haefner suggests the following do's and don'ts for job seekers hoping to stand out for all the right reasons:
  1. 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.
  2. DO know your audience. What charms one hiring manager may turn another 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.
  3. DON'T overthink it. Sometimes the simplest approach is the best approach. Many of the hiring managers we surveyed were blown away when a candidate sent a handwritten thank you note.
  4. 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.
So shine on, you (not too) crazy diamond – and best of luck in landing that next job.

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