The job search can be hard.
Between hunting for likely positions on free job sites and sending out dozens of copies of your resume, it’s easy to get discouraged when no progress is made. Feelings of desperation translate into desperate action – candidates will try almost anything to get noticed.
For your amusement, and as cautionary tales, here are some wacky resume strategies applicants have tried and what you should do instead to stand out for your talent, not your eccentricities:
1. Quirky Inserts
What They Did: According to Business Insider’s conversations with top recruiters, people actually send objects with their resumes pretty often. One woman sent a plastic foot, expressing her desire to “get her foot in the door” and stuck to the theme with cringe-worthy puns throughout her cover letter and resume. Needless to say, she wasn’t hired.
In the same article, a recruiter reported receiving a fake vial of blood along with the assurance that the candidate would “sweat blood” for the job. What’s up with the awful puns isn’t clear, but the inserts are meant to get an employer’s attention and stand out among hundreds of applications. While it’s a reasonable goal, these people took it and veered immediately into a strange and unsettling place. (It’s probably never a good idea to send blood or severed body parts to an employer, fake or not.)
What You Should Do Instead: Don’t rely on a gimmick to stand out to an employer. There are many other ways to catch a hiring manager’s attention. Among them are a well-written cover letter and an impressive resume. It’s also possible to look through a free job posting to try to find a phone number and call to follow up once you’ve made an application. This is becoming rare, but is still an acceptable practice. A hiring manager will remember his or her conversation with you, and if your phone manners are good, that’s probably to your benefit. And there’s no requirement for you to send mementos more suited to an episode of CSI than a job application.
2. Too Much Information
What They Did: Business Insider also heard from recruiters who found out a little more about candidates than they’d have preferred. One woman included her full measurements in her application – which is almost universally inappropriate, unless you’re applying to a modeling gig. Other applicants have been known to include information on their favorite hobbies and foods, apparently under the impression that their love for competitive eating is at all important to a prospective employer.
The aim here is to create a connection or spark a conversation with a hiring manager, but it comes across as unprofessional and irrelevant. Similarly, people routinely list their proficiency in English when their resumes are in English, or skills like being able to work a printer or use Microsoft Word. If it’s obvious, you don’t need to say it.
What You Should Do Instead: The appropriate time to initiate a friendly relationship with someone who might hire you is when they contact you. Of course, your cover letter and resume need to be professional, but you’re not quite building a relationship in them. Talking about career-irrelevant issues with a hiring manager is unlikely to earn you any points at an interview, unless you’re asked or you’re both wearing the same shoes that day. Instead, you should always take care to show consideration and gratitude throughout the recruitment and hiring process.
Touches like a thank-you note – or even an email – can go a long way, unlike talking about your fondness for breeding newts.
3. Outright Lying
What They Did: It’s incredibly common for people to tell total lies on their resumes. According to U. S. News and World Report, over half of resumes contain lies. The most popular include stretching dates of employment, inflating skills and accomplishments, faking credentials and pretending to be a veteran. Obviously, these vary in the degree of seriousness. Saying you worked somewhere a month longer than you did isn’t quite as awful as saying you served in the military when the closest you’ve gotten is Call of Duty.
However, applicants really should consider all of these lies equally toxic. They’re not going to stay watertight – the nature of lies, and the nature of pre-hire screening, essentially dictates you’ll get found out. The consequences can be severe, and are almost certain to include not getting the job. It isn’t worth it to lie on your resume, even if you desperately want the job and think you’ll have to lie to get it.
What You Should Do Instead: This one’s pretty simple – just tell the truth. If your accomplishments and experiences aren’t enough for the job you want, consider wanting a different job!