Any career expert will tell you that resume customization is key to standing out in a job search. You need to include key details that will spark the hiring manager's curiosity and make her want to take a second look. However, divulging such personal information as your ties to the mob? Not a good idea. If you think that's stating the obvious, then you obviously haven't spoken to any hiring managers lately.
CareerBuilder did, asking hiring managers to share the most "memorable and unusual job applications" that have crossed their desk. Aside from the candidate whose cover letter discussed her family being in the mob, answers included:
- Candidate called himself "a genius" and invited the hiring manager to interview him at his apartment.
- Candidate applying for a management job listed "gator hunting" as a skill.
- Candidate specified that her resume was set up to be sung to the tune of "The Brady Bunch."
- Candidate highlighted the fact that he was "homecoming prom prince" in 1984.
- Candidate claimed to be able to speak "Antartican" when applying for a job to work in Antarctica.
- Candidate's resume was decorated with pink rabbits. (Really. Could we make this up?)
- Candidate listed "to make dough" as the resume's objective.
- Candidate applying for an accounting job said that he was "deetail-oriented" and spelled the company's name incorrectly.
When Creativity Works
Showing originality can help you stand out of the pack -- in a good way. You just have to make sure that whatever you've written directly relates to the job you're applying for, notes Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. Given today's highly competitive job market, job seekers need to clearly demonstrate how their skills and experience are relevant to the employer.
Here are some examples of candidates that tried the creative approach, made a positive impression and were ultimately hired:
- Candidate sent his resume in the form of an oversize Rubik's Cube, where you had to push the tiles around to align the resume. He was hired.
- Candidate who had been a stay-at-home mom listed her skills as nursing, housekeeping, chef, teacher, bio-hazard cleanup, fight referee, taxi driver, secretary, tailor, personal shopping assistant and therapist. She was hired.
- Candidate created a marketing brochure promoting herself as the best candidate and was hired.
- Candidate listed accomplishments and lessons learned from each position. He gave examples of good customer service as well as situations that he wished he would have handled differently. He was hired.
- Candidate applying for a food and beverage management position sent a resume in the form of a fine-dining menu and was hired.
When asked what would make them automatically dismiss a candidate from consideration, employers' top responses included resumes with typos (61 percent), resumes that copied large amounts of wording from the job posting (41 percent) and resumes with an inappropriate email address (35 percent).
Other responses included:
- Resumes that don't include a list of skills -- 30 percent
- Resumes that are more than two pages long -- 22 percent
- Resumes printed on decorative paper -- 20 percent
- Resumes that detail more tasks than results for previous positions -- 16 percent
- Resumes that include a photo -- 13 percent
- Resumes that have large blocks of text with little white space -- 13 percent
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