Job Candidates That Stand Out—The Wrong Way

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Job Candidates That Stand Out—The Wrong Way

A recent survey illustrates just how far some job candidates go to get noticed.

As recruiters, we understand the sometimes delicate dance between job candidates and client companies.  Before ATS software, some of the best advice to give a potential candidate was to follow up personally after an interview, or upon submission of materials.  Nowadays—not so much.

While personal follow-up is still appreciated in some spheres, many employers and recruiters rely on software to parse candidates and resume materials.  In a reversal, many job postings request that potential hires do not contact the employer or the posting party.

The inability to follow up on a resume submission frustrates many job seekers who rightfully fear their application is screened out before being seen by human eyes.  Despite this trend, the overwhelming number of resumes and related material make it difficult for a hiring manager or recruiter to thoughtfully review every resume collected by automated submission software.

Recently, job board CareerBuilder posted results from its 2016 national online survey.  Conducted between May and June, the survey was sent to more than 2,000 HR and hiring managers in the U.S.   The survey asked respondents to submit tactics used by their candidate contacts in a bid to get a foot in the hiring door.

The things people do…

Consider these points from the 2015 and 2016 CareerBuilder survey on the things people do to get hired:

  • Dress for success: Some job candidates have worn apparel emblazoned with the name of the target company, or wear a camp counselor uniform to demonstrate leadership abilities.  Stranger still is the story of the candidate for a mid-level administration job who arrived an hour early in a white limousine wearing a three piece suit.  Let’s not forget the candidate interviewing in October who arrived in a Halloween costume.
  • Too close for comfort: Other job candidates used questionable tactics including kissing the interviewer and asking the hiring manager to share an ice cream cone.  Another candidate bought a seat upgrade to sit next to a hiring manager on a transatlantic flight.  Yet another figured out where the hiring manager was dining, and picked up the bill.
  • Footwear: One candidate produced a pair of embroidered socks with a note guaranteeing he would “knock the socks off” the company if hired.  Another gave a shoe and a flower to the interviewer with a note that said, “trying to get my foot in the door.”
  • Odd but true: A candidate lit the corner of her resume on fire to prove her “burning desire” for the job.  Another candidate gift-wrapped her resume, and yet another had a decorated cake delivered to the hiring manager that stated, “Congratulations [the candidate] got the job.”

For the right job, and the right hiring manager, novel interview tactics sometimes work.  Consider these offerings:

  • Resume spin: Presenting a resume in an unusual way sometimes gets the right kind of attention.  A graphic designer created her resume as a web page using her would-be employer’s website as a template.  Another graphic designer created a resume out of LEGOs, and yet another imprinted their resume in chocolate.  All of them got the job.
  • Ad buying: Some job hunters have successfully taken out ads—or even billboards—to attract attention and, yes, get the job.
  • Stunts: Fixing equipment, interviewing in a different language, and using many kinds of edible products to get noticed works for some.

Everyone has heard an interview tale worth repeating.  As hiring procedures become standardized, and machine-learning helps humans make final hiring decisions, some of the humanity of hiring a human is disappearing.

As a candidate, you can improve your odds by producing high-quality submission materials.  Consider well-produced, interactive-and-rich media resumes.  At an interview, professional poise, polite demeanor, and knowledge go further than a clown suit (that candidate was not hired, either).

When you have questions about how applicant tracking software can support your hiring cycle—contact us at Brightmove.

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