10 overly ‘creative’ ways to apply for a job

August 13, 2015, 3:05 PM UTC
gift box
gift box
Photograph by Paul Taylor — Getty Images

“Job seekers know they’re competing with a lot of other candidates,” observes Rosemary Haefner, chief of human resources at CareerBuilder. “So they’re trying more unusual tactics to stand out from the crowd.”

That’s understandable, but some of applicants’ more, um, unorthodox moves have just made interviewers wonder if they’re playing with a full deck. According to a new survey of about 2,000 hiring managers, here are 10 ways recent candidates got their attention, although not necessarily the job. He or she:

  • …found out where the hiring manager was having dinner and picked up the tab.
  • …lit a corner of her resume on fire to show her “burning desire” for the job.
  • …had his small daughter call in advance of the interview to thank the hiring manager “for giving her dad a job.”
  • …had a cake delivered to the interviewer with the words “Congratulations! [Candidate’s name] got the job!” written in frosting.
  • …answered his phone during the meeting, then told the interviewer the call was from another employer who wanted to discuss hiring him.
  • …sat on the floor next to the company mascot and asked the interviewer to take a picture.
  • …tried to wow the hiring manager by reciting the history of the company. Alas, the candidate’s version was totally inaccurate.
  • …had her resume gift-wrapped.
  • …showed the interviewer pictures of his relatives working at the company many years before.
  • …sent the hiring manager a coupon for a free meal at a local restaurant.


The survey found that most interviewers welcome a follow-up phone call or email, as “it indicates enthusiasm and initiative,” adding, however, that less is more: “Bombarding the hiring manager with phone calls or emails can come across as desperate, annoying, or even creepy.”

The best way to make a great impression seems to be simple, old-fashioned courtesy. CareerBuilder reports that some of the hiring managers in the survey said “the novelty of receiving a handwritten thank-you note was enough to make the candidate stand out.”

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