Going too Far “Outside the Box” to Attract Attention

Getting employers’ attention in today’s job market is no easy task!

When organizations get dozens, even hundreds, of applicants for each job opening, it’s hard to get noticed even if you’re a perfect fit.

Important Considerations

Being unique in some way, doing something attention-grabbing, or getting creative is one way to rise to the top. Taking the idea too far, however, can hurt more than it helps.

What is the culture of your field or industry?

Someone putting their picture with a “Hire Me!” appeal on a billboard will get a very different reaction from potential employers if they are pursuing a position as a Funeral Director rather than a job in advertising.

Many fields are characterized by certain levels of professionalism and decorum. When someone does something so far outside the norm it will certainly get noticed and grab people’s attention. However, it is also likely to create more of a negative impression than a positive one.

Pursuing a role in a more creative environment may call for more drastic stunts. It’s important to have a good understanding of the limits in your profession.

What do they really want to see?

Setting yourself apart in ways that emphasize the most important qualities they want to see is imperative. That will vary depending on the type of role you pursue. Certainly functional and technical skills for the role matter greatly. However, other factors are equally important. An organization isn’t just looking for job skills.

They are also looking for:

Communication Skills
Sense of Urgency
Emotional Intelligence
Strong Work Ethic
Ability to Work Well with Others
Follow Through

Distinguishing yourself in those areas, as well as technical and functional competence for a role, will make the difference.

How do you project the right attributes?

Research the field, the industry, and the company you are trying to pursue, and find ways that would make the most positive impact. Be creative based on what unique characteristics you have to offer to a potential employer.

Perhaps it’s –

  • Being more pleasantly and professionally persistent than other applicants in finding, reaching, and talking to multiple contacts in the organization.
  • Offering to contribute time and effort on a small project or initiative for free to show how you can be an asset.
  • Going above and beyond in researching and finding ways you uniquely can be of value to the organization. Then, sending a concise proposal to contacts you find.
  • Sending a coffee mug to someone you’ve been able to determine is the hiring manager, with your resume and a note inside asking if you could bring them coffee for the mug while you chat about the role.

Be creative, appropriate, professional, and a cut above any other applicant they will hear from.

You may get attention, but probably not the kind of attention you want, by:

  • Sending your resume with glitter on it (unless the employer works with the “glitterati”)
  • Sending your resume saturated with perfume (unless scent is important for that job)
  • Emailing your resume with a pink flowery background (unless the business is flowers)
  • Dropping off your resume dressed in a mascot costume (unless job is as a mascot job)

If those actions are inappropriate for the employer and industry, they will more likely be fodder for jokes around the company rather than a job offer for you.

Bottom Line

Think outside the box to find ways to stand out from the crowd in your job search.  But, don’t be so far outside the box that you are not taken seriously!

About the author…

Harry Urschel has over 25 years experience as an independent recruiter in Minnesota. He currently operates as e-Executives, writes a blog for Job Seekers called The Wise Job Search, and can be found on Twitter as @HarryUrschel and on LinkedIn.

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