Will A Gimmick Help You Land The Job?

gimmick get job

By Alison Green

In a tight job market like this one, job seekers often start wondering about how they can stand out in a sea of other candidates. And some of them turn to gimmicks -- like sending food to a potential employer, or even the old story of sending a resume in a shoe with a note asking to get a foot in the door. But in reality, gimmicks are more likely to hurt than help a job seeker's chances. Since gimmicks have nothing to do with the quality of your candidacy, they make you look like you don't think you can stand on your qualifications and merit, which will make the hiring manager question that as well. Plus, gimmicks make you come across as overly aggressive, hokey, or even creepy.

Here are five gimmicks job seekers sometimes try and reasons why you shouldn't use them:

1. Sending cookies or other treats.
This will make you stand out all right -- as someone who doesn't understand normal professional boundaries. You can't bribe your way into a job (and if you could, it would take more than the price of a box of brownies). Besides, lots of people are wary of accepting food from strangers.

More: Cool 'Tech' Jobs: 5 New, Fast-Growing Careers That Pay Well

2. Dropping off your resume in person.
Sure, everyone has heard a story about someone who went by to drop off their resume in person and got interviewed and hired on the spot. But most employers will find it annoying and indicative that you don't understand modern hiring conventions. After all, most companies include specific instructions about how they want you to apply, and "in person" is rarely included. Plus, many companies only accept resumes electronically because they get put into an electronic screening system. (Retail and food service tend to be the exceptions to this rule.)

3. Overnighting your resume to the employer.
Similar to dropping by in person, overnighting your application shows you don't care to follow the company's directions, and it might mean your materials won't end up in their electronic tracking system. In your attempt to stand out, you'll sacrifice convenience and efficiency on the employer's end.

And in this electronic age, you'll come across as a bit outdated.

More: 7 Part-Time Jobs That Pay Up To $40 An Hour

4. Creative resume designs.
Here's what most hiring managers want from a resume: a concise, easy-to-scan list of what you've accomplished, organized chronologically by position, plus any particularly notable skills, all presented in a format that they can quickly scan and get the highlights. That's it. If you try unusual designs or colors, you'll not only annoy most hiring managers, but you'll raise questions about whether you think your skills and experience won't speak for themselves, and whether you put an inappropriate emphasis on appearances over substance. (Design jobs are an exception to this rule.)

5. Photos.
Although photos often accompany resumes in other countries, in the United States it's considered naive and even gauche to include a photo with your application. Not only does a photo come across as inappropriate, but it will make many employers uncomfortable, because it opens the door for allegations of discrimination.

So, if gimmicks are off-limits, how do you stand out? The answer is straightforward: Be highly qualified for the job, write a great cover letter, have a resume that shows that you'd excel at what the job involves, and be friendly, responsive, thoughtful, and enthusiastic.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She's also the co-author of "Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager's Guide to Getting Results," and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.

Resume Tips: 1 Page Vs. 2 Page Resume

Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now

More From U.S.News

Looking for a job? Click here to get started.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

not sure on that ive been out of work since 2008 when the world took a dump ive sent over 3000 resumes out ive had 4 interviews none came through ive been told i have too much experience or they found another person more suited for the job which means younger that has kids and dosent have alot of experience im still looking everyday living off just a few hundred in food stamps i have no car my wife & i live with my parents because we cant afford our own place she cant work due to a foot injury that happened at her old job hit & run in a parking lot some person ran over her foot & took off she didnt get the plate number & the company said they arent responsible because she wasent on the clock so its bs if she was we could sue we got a laywer & they cant help either because they person took off or we would be set but we get by with no money im 28000 grand in debt i did have a car i bought with my unemployment sunk every penny in it i had a 05 dodge with 50000 thousand on it lost my job gave it back i setteled for a 1993 toyota with 265000 grand on it spent 5000 grand to keep it running i bought it for 1500.00 it blew up last year i got a whole 150.00 out of it so ya ive had my share of troubles but i can still use my parents car to go apply for jobs i worked at a company for ten years then got laid off ive since reapplied but no luck ive taken all the tests online for all the retail store called several times no luck i use my local state agency that has job boards but most jobs on there are just collecting resumes & apps when we had winco come here they opened 2 stores they had 24000 thousand people apply for 300 jobs im not sure how to make myself look better than those many people a month later i hears they cut those jobs from 300 to 150 people that got hired so its hard if anyone has advice on how to get on at jobs without the competition let me know !!!!!!!!!!!

July 19 2012 at 7:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

poor Alison is living in a different time zone. Todays system works hard at keeping applicants invisible (right up their with living their lives via text and facebook). The people who GET the jobs know that you need to beat the masses, and get your foot in the door. Aiin't gonna happen by following Alison's rules. I've helped my niece bypass the 'electroni-gen x' system for a recent opening listed on-line, had her research who the players were for the 'on-line' job, go to those people in person, present herself and her resume.. and guess who got the job? What Alison also fails to mention, is (..and I hate this word): Networking. I have helped the kids of several friends join community clubs (Lions, Rotary, Masons) and by meeting these people (who know other people, who know other people.. you get my drift), and word of mouth, have found their jobs. Alison needds to get back into the main stream of America. I think she forgot how the real world works.

July 18 2012 at 11:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The very first thing to land on my desk would be the resume. If I see inappropriate email address it goes directly in the trash. No, I do not want to work with 'sexidivaxxx'. I check grammar/spelling, too. Being bilingual and having experience will put you on the interview list. I also check out how close they live. Believe it or not, distance of driving to work might not be a big thing, but after a few years it will matter.
I did interview a lady who coincidentally was dropping off her resume, even before our wanted ad was posted.
Bottom line, an employer wants a professional that will stick around for years to come.

July 18 2012 at 10:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Or you can tell them you have sex with barnyard animals like the guy did when he applied at the customs and border protection

July 18 2012 at 7:59 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

buzz, wrong AOL. I specifically went out of my way to drop several resumes in person and was interviewed, not on the spot but called for an interview. I talked to my sister who works in an HR department and asked if they ever look through all of the online applications they get and she said "no way". With so many electronic applications the one that stands out is the one on paper now--I am living proof.

July 18 2012 at 5:38 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

none of what you said relates to todays hiring process. You need to stand out and you need to step out to be different or you will almost never get an interview. I was on the hiring side for years and saw application after application come in for dept areas of our company ( I was in charge of 1 area) and if the applicant answered they had been arrested, ever, they were not to be considered, period. the rest of the applications just sat there until I went through them 1 by 1. I will admit I wondered why some had applied and called them, so you do have to pay attention to what you are applying for. I was looking for a tech, a mechanic tech (boat biz) and I got an application from a mechanical engineer. I interviewed him, still not sure what he was thinking when he sent his application in........

July 18 2012 at 4:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It is hard to understand modern hiring conventions when human resources doesn't understand what they want themselves. I was unemployed for a year, and I wised up and bypassed human resources all together. When I wanted a better job than I had, I did it again. I got tired of filling out apps that took an hour, then wondered it they ever saw it, even with key words. So many are little Hitlers with a God complex, and treat you like dirt on their shoe. I overheard one HR person say she had a 5 inch stack of applications, and there wasn't one person in there she wanted to see. How the Hell would she know??

July 18 2012 at 3:27 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web