There is a fine line between gimmicks and authentic creativity when it comes to capturing the attention of hiring managers. A stunt too outlandish will land your resume in the garbage, but there are several tricks job hunters may employ that—with finesse—just might pique the interest of hiring managers and get you in the door for an interview. Each of the following strategies requires a bit of extra time, and in some cases a little money upfront, but each is a way that has been proven to move job hunters forward in their search for employment.
1) The Unsolicited Application
The strategy of cold calling has historically been one of the most tried-and-true methods of job hunting, although it has changed a bit in the last decade. To set this strategy into motion, you need to do your research. It’s a good idea to use a spreadsheet to organize your findings. Start by making an exhaustive list of companies and organizations that interest you—be it the company’s mission, the products they make or advertise, or the ideal next step up in your career. For each entry in your spreadsheet, record the company’s name, a sentence about why it interests you, and the available contact information about the staff member most likely to be in charge.
Once you have several entries, begin contacting the companies. In an email, send your resume along with a formal, individualized message about why you’re interested in the company, your skills that you think would make a positive contribution to their staff and workplace, and a reminder that even if they are not hiring at the moment, to please keep you in mind for future opportunities. The majority of these emails may go unanswered, but sometimes, companies are looking for employees for positions that haven’t been posted yet, or hiring managers and staff members will remember your outreach efforts and might contact you in the future.
2) The Role Reversal
Some of you may have heard about programmer Andrew Horner’s website that encouraged employers to apply to have Horner work for them. While this strategy was ultimately very successful for Horner, it is not likely that everyone will achieve the same results. However, there are a few ways that you can “turn the tables” so that people solicit you to work, rather than the other way around.
One tactic is to advertise on Facebook and Google. To make a Facebook ad, you’ll have to start a business page. Once you do, you can follow these steps to create advertisements for small fees to reach specific audiences. To place advertisements on Google, you’ll have to make a Google AdWords account. Once you’ve set that up, there are many options to create Search Ads (those that appear in the list search results when you Google something), and Display Ads (those that appear as banners on websites you visit). There are also many different payment tiers, depending on your needs and the audience you want to reach. You can learn more about how to effectively use Google Adwords here.
Another “role reversal” tactic is to post advertisements for your services on sites like TaskRabbit and Craigslist Jobs**. While Craigslist tends to be a bit more of a wild card in terms of gaining actual clients, it has proved effective when used intelligently and persistently. It’s also easy to post–you can do it within 10 minutes! Craigslist uses what’s called “relay mail,” so that you can communicate with potential clients anonymously until you have reached an agreement and feel comfortable exchanging other contact information with your client.
TaskRabbit allows you to create a profile that lists your skills and strengths so that people who need work done can contact you if your skill set is a match for what they need. You can become a “tasker” here. As a tasker you can also browse work that people need done and contact them to offer your services. If they agree that you’re a match, then you’ll move forward with a contract and you’ll be on your way.
** Remember never to post personal information inside ad text, never to give bank account information or passwords, and never to send/wire money over Craigslist.
3) The Imitation Game
Maybe you’ve heard of Alexander J. Velicky’s video game resume, which he submitted to Bethesda Game Studios, where he was keen on working. Or perhaps you’re aware of Jeanne Hwang’s Pinterest CV, which she submitted to Pinterest. Or Leah Bowman, who built a Lego-themed resume to appeal to future employers.
These are three examples of job hunters who grabbed hiring managers’ attention by synthesizing and personalizing elements of the companies’ branding, mission, and work. By thoroughly researching the companies they wanted to work for, these job hunters were able to project their best qualities by imitating the characteristics they loved best about the companies. When the hiring managers saw enthusiasm for the companies mirrored in their job applications, these applicants were invited to interview.
All three of these creative strategies require a bit more time, research, and even money (in the case of advertising) upfront. But for jobs that you’ve got your heart set on, it just might be worth a shot!
Cover image provided by WOCinTech Chat