Emergency Reader E-mail: How to Get Your Resume Noticed

How to Get Your Resume Noticed | CorporetteHow can you get your resume noticed? We have another emergency e-mail, this time from reader M, who wonders how to get her resume to stand out from the pack:

There is a job opening in a creative field that is right up my alley at a company I’m very passionate about. Among other things, this company is a bit offbeat and irreverent. I want to apply with a creative flourish but want your and readers’ advice as to whether this approach has the potential to backfire.

I truly think the people making the hiring decisions would really appreciate the novelty of a bold move: I could find their favorite lunch delivery spot and have my resume delivered along with their regular order. A bit off the wall but is that what it takes to distinguish yourself these days in this economy? I’d love to hear about your hiring/interviewing experiences for some guidance.

This is an interesting question, and I hope the readers can offer you some interesting feedback! For my own $.02, I’m normally against these kinds of gimicky things to get noticed because, in theory, your resume should speak the loudest. However, if the creative field has anything to do with getting people’s attention, your idea isn’t bad — it shows you’re resourceful (found their favorite lunch place), and determined to get their attention. (Although I might worry about your resume getting soiled by food stains or getting crinkly from steam… but that’s me.)

I think the best advice I can offer here is to figure out if you know anyone at the company, or if you know anyone who knows anyone at the company. Seriously, go as far into your connections as possible. Poll your friends on Facebook, scour your LinkedIn connections, send the query to your college listservs — you might even try giving the career office at your alma mater(s) a call to see if they know of any graduates working there.  (Perhaps try your favorite professors, also, if you’re still in touch with any of them.)  Ask your significant others/parents/best friends to do the same for you. Find a personal connection. Take care to be fairly vague in what you’re asking in case your current boss somehow sees your query.

Then, once you’ve got a connection, do your best to connect — everyone has time for a 15-minute phone conversation, or  for someone to drop by their office for an informational interview for a friend.  This connection will be able to tell you — far better than I will, or the readers will — how to get your resume to stand out, and how to ace the interview once you’ve got it.

Readers, what are your tips?



  1. A client of mine got an interview with the president of a creative company (and a good job) by sending him a coffee mug with a napkin rolled up inside. Inside of the napkin was her Resume with a cover note saying “Let’s have coffee”. It worked.

  2. Anonymous Today :

    I have no advice for creative fields, but I’m curious to hear what other people suggest. (And I like the lunch idea.)

    As far as general getting your resume noticed advice, I have to say I agree with Kat, for better or worse, I’ve found the best way to get your resume noticed is by finding a connection at the organization (if possible).

  3. Anonymous :

    My first instinct would be to avoid anything with monetary value over $10 (or along those lines), like buying their lunch. You don’t want it to seem like you’re trying to buy your way in. I don’t work in H.R. though, so maybe I’m wrong.
    But I agree getting noticed is difficult, and if you can think of something that accentuates a hire-desirable trait then go for it.
    I always imagine one day I’ll apply to something with a video accompaniment to my resume (a la Elle Woods minus the green sparkly bikini).

  4. Anonymous :

    I read recently about a guy who managed to get google ads for his resume to come up in searches by his potential employer, or something. I know I’m messing up the details of this story. Does anyone remember and/or have a link? It was pretty neat and he got hired.

  5. Sorry but the lunch thing is just too stalkerish to me. The coffee mug might be a good compromise, though I’m not sure about delivering a resume that is all crumpled up! The best way to stand out is through a personal connection, but keep in mind it does not have to be a “person” you have in common. It could be you’re both alumni from the same school (or someone else in the company is) and you ask for an informational interview over coffee because you’d like to be where this person is in 10 years (or as appropriate) and how did they get there etc. “What Color Is Your Parachute” has some great ideas on this.

    • Yeah, the lunch thing seems a bit stalkerish to me too. Too much is required to find out their favorite lunch spot and regular order. (Really, if you don’t already have connections with the company, how would you do it without physically following them and then grilling the restaurant workers?).

    • Stalkerish was the first thing I thought too. Well-intentioned, but just a wee bit creepy. I love the coffee mug idea, though.

      Or there’s the white board approach… http://thechive.com/2010/08/10/girl-quits-her-job-on-dry-erase-board-emails-entire-office-33-photos/ (which turned out to be a hoax, by the way, but was still pretty creative)

    • Yeah, the lunch thing is definitely stalker-material.

    • I will go ahead and third/fourth whatever the stalkerish feel of the lunch idea. Personally, I would be very creeped out if an applicant did this to me. The coffee mug on the other hand is clever and doesn’t require extensive creepy investigative work.

  6. The restaurant idea seems a little stalker-ish to me, but I’m not in a creative field.

    However, my best friend is. She told me that most people are hired by word of mouth. She was hired by sending her resume in and mentioning she knew a former co-worker of hers that was working there. When they asked the co-worker, he vouched for her work. Most of her colleagues have been hired the same way.

    She also mentioned that all the word of mouth in the world won’t help you if your portfolio isn’t great (if your work requires a portfolio).

    • This advice is spot on. Especially for work that is really visual (graphic design, for example), having a connection to vouch for you goes a long way, but so does your portfolio.

  7. I think she meant that she could call around to find out if there was a favorite delivery spot. Resourceful, not so stalkerish.

    • Or she wears a trench and dark glasses, completely creeping out her prospective employer. That’s one way to make a name in the industry!

      I’ll give you this, the lunch idea is creative! In the end she’d probably only be out the cost of a bunch of burritos. :)

      • Anonymous Today :

        I wasn’t picturing this until others mentioned the lunch idea would be stalkerish, then an image of a woman in a trench coat and Jackie O glasses (and possibly a wig) immediately popped into my mind and I chuckled (half out-loud, prompting a strange look from my co-worker).

  8. A-non-lawyer :

    I tend to agree with the above advice that getting noticed is most effective when you use a personal connection. Not in a creative field, though :)

    I’m not sure if anyone else loves Arrested Development as much as I do, but when I think of doing something to get noticed with a resume, I think about the episode where Tobias has Maby help him stuff confetti and handsoap in envelopes with his resume to send to movie studios.

    • Hahahah, yes!!

      I’m still thinking about the Elle Woods application video. Favorite line: “I feel comfortable using legal jargon in everyday life…I object!”

      • Anonymous Today :

        I also thought about Elle Woods’ pink and scented resume.

        • I love Elle Woods’ position on having a pink, scented resume, “I think it adds a certain something, don’t you?”

          But her most practical advice was “Totally look the part!”

        • My first thought too!

  9. The lunch thing sounds weird to me. I think I’d be put off.

    Someone I know got a job interview at a quirky, irreverent company. He found out that the hiring manager was, like him, a Star Trek fan, so he quoted from Star Trek in the intro paragraph of his cover letter. He also added an “Activities and Interests” section of his resume that was interesting (eg instead of “reading, cooking, music” use something like “20th century mystery novels, food trucks, flamenco.”)

    • I love when people put activities and interests on their resume (whether interesting or not), but a friend of mine in the same field hates it. Just be prepared to discuss whatever you put down!

    • I don’t think you’re ever supposed to put down run-of-the-mill interests like “reading, cooking, music” – creative field or not. No? Always something reasonably unique or nothing at all was what I’ve learned.

      • Anonymous :

        I would just put down your sincere interests. I have cooking, and during my clerkship interview the judge said he regularly hosted potlucks and asked what I’d cook for one.

  10. Can you illustrate your resume? A la Hyperboleandahalf or XKCD?

    • Actually, the more I think about this, the more I would LOVE to see someone’s resume told as a comic strip-style story of how you got to where you are, and then inviting the conclusion that working HERE would be the perfect next panel.

      • Or keep the story about the company–this shows you tailored your efforts to this dream job and this isn’t just a blanketing of your general resume to every company in the industry.

  11. I came across this tactic recently and found it interesting:


    Basically, this woman used highly targeted Facebook ads directed at the companies where she was interested in working and had a job within about a week. Yes, there were some people who found the tactic a little odd, but others who thought it was innovative. Obviously, if you can find some “in” within your network, that’s a great option, but otherwise, I would say in a creative industry, you want to think outside of outside of the box.

    I had an art teacher in middle school who is convinced the reason he was ultimately hired is because his resume was illustrated. Meanwhile, this guy, who now works for a well-known startup, did his whole resume online: http://jasonzimdars.com/svn/ If I were in the startup industry, I’d jump all over the opportunity to hire someone like this (and they did).

    That’s my $.02. It seems like in this day in age in particular, there is a little more flexibility in the ways you can stand out. Good luck!

  12. I know a lot of people in the creative field and I think as long as she’s not stalking to figure out the favorite lunch spot, and already knows that they usually get lunch at X place, I’d go for it. I think its creative and I think that’s what gets you a creative and resourceful job. Your resume isn’t just going to sit in the abyss that is HR, it’s going to be seen by the people who you want to see it.

    I think that if it’s something you really want, it’s go big, or go home.

  13. I think I would be uncomfortable with the lunch thing if I received a resume that way. If the job is in a creative field, use your skills to make your resume stand out from the pack – if it’s in PR submit a PR kit, if it’s graphic art, doing something with that, if it’s film, submit a CD with something along with your resume. Using your talents to make yourself standout is cleaver. Buying lunch may be seen as just desperate.

  14. You could make flyers mimicking ‘lost/found dog’ ads and paper them on the block around the building. Something along the lines of “Found: eager to please (insert career here) looking for a home. Housebroken, knows basic commands..” Etc etc. Then have tear off tabs at the bottom linking to a website with your resume and number? Include quirky picture of yourself at work.

  15. I liked the approach this guy used:

    “2. How I got an advertising job with no advertising experience: I wrote my cover letter as a memo to the boss, dated a year in the future. I was reminiscing about how much we had accomplished since the day he decided to take a gamble on a guy with no advertising experience. ”

    From http://www.thesocialpath.com/2008/12/seven-bits-of-backstory.html

  16. A guy who used to date my best friend was trying to break into advertising. He had a pal of his who was a photographer do a dramatic black and white photo of him in the buff . . . except for nicely lit and displayed piece of his portfolio work, which covered the naughty bits. He put a copy of the photo on the front of a postcard with a caption that said something like “Joe has a great piece”. The back of the postcard said “You can see what else he has to offer on the resume that will be arriving next week.”

    He got a job at Leo Burnett. Clearly, advertising is different than the law!!

    • Legally Brunette :

      OMG. Craziness! Yes, definitely would not work in big law. :)

    • And hilarious. I’d say he earned the job.

    • Another Sarah :

      I almost wish the law were more like this. If I could write a jingle that (musically) said, “Sarah’s awesome, she would be a fabulous attorney and you should hire her and pay her lots of money!!” AND not get laughed out of the industry, I would do it in a heartbeat. Sigh…

  17. Wow. I’m so used to applying to committees of people carefully chosen to balance out warring factions I can’t fathom the idea of suggesting they all get together for lunch when they don’t have to. Seriously, can’t you coldcall whoevers de idiom it is with a couple questions about the job. If the secretary tries to block, ask to leave a MSG with those questions. I bet he/she will be overwhelmed & connect you.
    Once you ge them, don’t take a lot of their time but introduce yourself with a brief rundown of what you bring to the table and ask a couple questions that clearly show you’ve done your homework. I’ve only had a couple of jobs outside academia but this is how I got them.
    Good luck!

  18. I asked a friend of mine who is in the graphic field and he actually says it’s not all that uncommon to get something like that. That as long as she’s not sending nude photos of herself along with the food, that having the resume sent with the food is a good idea. He even went further and said that you might want to be more creative than that.

    Not to knock this forum… I love it for what it is for FOR SURE… but as to looking for creative minds that are open to that… I dunno…

  19. Yes. Do it! I got my first job at a design firm with an off the wall idea… I sent (in a hat box) a clear hollow glass manaquin head. Inside were colored scraps of paper with pieces from my resume, but also random bits like quotes, equations, words, etc. I sent a cover letter that said something to the effect of wishing I could share everything that was in my head with them, could I get an interview? When I was hired, they mentioned multiple times it was “my head” that got me there. Be bold, but you better have the chops to support it. That’s how it can fall flat… Good luck!!

  20. Well, I’ve never had a HR person hire me… I think the trick is to get resume to hiring person.

    For my profession, there are ways to figure out who the high rankers are at companies… and send resume to them (I did get one interview doing that based on the sense of humour of the guy doing the interviewing — he laughed saying “oh that guy retired 6 months ago).

    Best is networking — worth a read at least is
    (not sure it’s worth buying) —

    Basically do you have any ins? If so, coming in as “a friend of someone you know” does help makes them feel as if they know you.. I would try to get an intro to the person, chat with them, then send resume to both them and HR afterwards.


  21. Anonymous :

    I have to agree with everyone else that networking is the way to go. That’s how I got my current job. And the only reason I think that my contact even remembered me enough to give me a call about the job opening was because I had a flower arrangement delivered to her house a few weeks before due to the death of one of her family members. Because I kept in contact with her in that way, I think I naturally popped into her head when the job opening became available. So, along with networking, my second bit of advice is to constantly keep in contact with the people that you have in your network. Send them greeting cards during the holidays or if you know they have a birthday coming up, send them a small gift. It’s little things like that that may help to keep you in their mind’s eye when a job opportunity arises.

  22. On the lunch front, I had a friend who was applying for a creative job at his dream company and made his resume into a Chinese takeout container and had it delivered at lunch. He made an online version of his resume in a takeout menu format and ended up getting the job, even though it wasn’t hiring at the time he applied.

  23. I knew someone who applied to the ad agency that created the Happy Meal years ago…. so He put his resume on the outside of the happy meal box and on the inside he had an “action fiqure” of himself… ready to work. It was a GI Joe doll. Very creative and for the ad agency…. a huge hit… 10 years later it still sits in the owners office.

  24. The reume in the coffee mug was neatly rolled up a la diploma. Her husband was a business professor in a state university – maybe he gave her the idea? No crush.

  25. People won’t read but they’ll watch a video – right? Sort of like a book vs movie… Go to TalentRooster.com – create an “intelligent resume” inclusive of traditional resume, video resume, personality profile, links to social media and more. While other candidates are still attaching Word docs to email, you will get noticed. Good luck with your search!

  26. larryheard :

    If you know the hiring manager or the company well that sending your resume resourcefully, I would definitely say go for it.

  27. Ya it’s true you send your resume meaningfully

  28. You’re right larry, if a resume builder or maker, or someone who’ll apply for a certain job and it so happens that he/she knows the hiring agent/manager then that’s a brilliant opportunity that somebody shouldn’t waste.

  29. i like professionals working on this site

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