Thursday, September 5, 2013

Getting Your Foot in the Door

from Cathy Sage...

While browsing through The Tampa Bay Times the other day, an article caught my eye. Perhaps it was the picture of this humongous shoe pushing its way through a tiny office door, along with the title of the article, “Things folks did to get a foot in the door … or not”.  It made me smile because I figured this would be an entertaining as well as enlightening article that would match my somewhat warped sense of humor. It was.

It would seem that CareerBuilder conducted a study from May 14 to June 5 of this year. The study was taken by 2,076 Hiring Managers and Human Resource professionals nationwide.  They polled these individuals to find out the various methods some candidates used to stand out from the crowd. It was an online study conducted by Harris Interactive. Some of the techniques candidates used worked. Others? Not so much. How many of the following would you even consider doing to stand out?

Some of the outside of the box techniques that worked:
  • A candidate contracted a billboard outside of the employer’s office. (Creative but kind of expensive, maybe)?
  • The candidate gave a resume on a chocolate bar. (For the life of me I cannot figure out the creativity, not to mention the time this must have taken. I’m going to have to Google how this is done).
  • The candidate showed up in a suit (good move) with a red T-shirt underneath a white shirt. The red T-shirt had a message; “Hire me, I work hard”. (Okay, well it worked!)
  • Another candidate asked to be interviewed in Spanish to showcase his diverse skills. (This is great if your interviewer can converse in Spanish and the position asks for a Bilingual candidate).
  • A female candidate put together a cover letter like an invitation to hire her rather than a request, (similar to a wedding invitation).
  • The candidate climbed on a roof the employer was repairing to ask for a job. (You should not be afraid of heights to attempt this stunt. Also, keep in mind, some prospective employers may not appreciate this for obvious insurance liability reasons).
  • A candidate performed on a guitar and sang a song about why he should be hired for the job. (You will need to have some musical prowess to attempt this).
  • Another candidate volunteered to help a prospective employer’s assistant in making copies when he noticed how overwhelmed and frazzled the assistant had become. (A classy, team player act).
  • A candidate sent a message in a bottle. (Nothing was mentioned if it was a wine or beer bottle).
  • And last but not least, my personal favorite; a candidate repaired a piece of the company’s equipment during the first interview. (Nice touch for showing off his skill set).

Next are some of the techniques that failed miserably. This makes you wonder what some candidates are thinking. On second thought, they probably aren’t:
  • A candidate did a back-flip into the room. (I’m picturing this and words fail me, as I’m sure they did the interviewer, as well).
  • The candidate brought items from interviewer’s online shopping wish list. (This is downright creepy… can you say ‘stalking’)?
  • A candidate sent a fruit basket to the interviewer’s home address, which the interviewer had not given her. (Obviously the office would have been more appropriate place to deliver it, however a fruit basket was not necessary in the first place; a ‘thank you’ note would have sufficed).
  • The candidate did a Tarot Card Reading for the interviewer. (Again, words fail me).
  • A candidate went to the interview dressed as a clown. (This would seem to be appropriate only if you were applying to a Circus).
  • A candidate sent an interviewer a note with some beef stew. The note said, “Eat hearty and hire me, J.” (Nope, I can’t make this stuff up).
  • A candidate set a timer on the interviewer’s desk and started it. He told the interviewer that he would explain in 3 minutes why he was the ideal candidate for the job. (I guess three minutes wasn’t enough).
  • A candidate sent the interviewer a lotto ticket. (I guess he didn’t win).
  • A candidate wore a fluorescent suit to the interview. (On second thought, it is probably best to stick with black, blue or gray).
  • And last but not least, the candidate sent a shoe to the interviewer to “get his foot in the door.” (You guessed it. He didn’t).  

Obviously this article is more about the humor and levity of interviewing and the crazy lengths some people will go, to stand out. Some out of the box techniques are quite creative and well received by interviewers, while others are just plain off the wall. It is important to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd by showcasing your skill sets and having a resume that presents well. Make sure you set yourself apart with the techniques that work to your favor and not against you.

Most of us are not capable of doing back flips, so that will not be where we make our miss step.  The bottom line is to entertain common sense to get your foot in the door. Just remember, it is probably not a good idea to send a shoe to the interviewer to do so.

Cathy L. Sage is President of Robert Sage Careers, LLC; an Executive Search Firm and Job Board Publisher who specializes in the Factory-Built Structures Industries. Cathy can be reached at or 727/504-5350. For more information about the company and to visit the Job Board, access For your Commercial Modular inquiries please contact our Commercial Modular Division Manager, Cindy Newberry at or call 863/662-4185.

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