Unusual Job Seeking Tactics Can Backfire

By CityTownInfo.com Staff
September 2, 2009

More job seekers are making greater efforts to be noticed by potential employers, but are instead often portraying themselves as overly persistent or rude.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some job candidates with scheduled phone interviews are instead appearing at the office uninvited, hoping to impress hiring managers. Angela Mellow, for example, who has applied for more than 100 jobs since being laid off from a San Diego accounting job in November, has twice unexpectedly shown up to the offices of hiring managers. While she said that she hoped the move would help create a connection, she admitted that recruiters "may be turned off if you're not following protocol."

That sentiment is echoed by other hiring managers who have dealt with what they consider to be overly aggressive job seeking. Kim Bishop, an executive recruiter in New York who ignored a Microsoft Outlook meeting request sent from a job candidate, noted that such gestures are "inappropriate."

She explained that job seekers should be assertive but not aggressive. Other career experts agreed that the best ways to stand out haven't changed, and include crafting a good resume and cover letter, networking and interviewing well.

Nevertheless, the Houston Chronicle reports that a recent survey of executives conducted by the staffing agency OfficeTeam indicated that job candidates are using much more unusual tactics to get noticed. The study, which surveyed executives from 1,000 top companies in the country, described applicants who sent resumes in pizza boxes, sprayed with perfume, attached to balloons, or wrapped around shoes with a note saying they "wanted to get a foot in the door."

But these tactics often backfire. Terri Carter, human resources director for St. Luke's Episcopal Health System, noted that she ignores such attempts. "What's going to happen is we'll say, 'Thank you, why don't you go online and apply like everybody else,'" she said. "It won't do you any good."

The Journal notes that occasionally creative strategies may help. Jim Winniger, 60, sent dress shirts to two hiring managers embroidered with his contact information, along with a note reading, "If you want a training manager willing to give you the shirt off his back to work for you, look inside." Winniger said that one hiring manager called to schedule an interview--although he didn't mention the shirt.

And the Chronicle relates of an job candidate who sent a chocolate footprint to the hiring manager who had interviewed her, with a note thanking the manager for helping her get her foot in the door.

"That's fine. It's not inappropriate," said Tyra Olson, OfficeTeam's Houston regional vice president. "If it was a chocolate statue the size of a human being, it would be. It's not for everyone or everywhere, but it was a tasteful thank-you."

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