When Is a Job-Search Gimmick a Good Idea?

When it comes to the job search, you definitely want to stand out from the other dozens – or hundreds – of people who are applying for the same position as you are.
So, is it truly the case – as the old vaudevillian performer used to say – that you “gotta have a gimmick!”?
It really all depends. It may not be a good idea to send a hiring manager an iron with a note saying “I’m here to iron out all your problems,” but it could be. How can you know?
Read below for some tips on when it’s appropriate to use a bit of gimmickry in your job hunt and when it’s not.
First, tips for knowing when a gimmick is a bad idea:

  • The company you’re applying to is very staid and traditional. Think law firm, accounting firm, healthcare, a public school engineering firm. The folks who work in these places will be looking for people who take their work extremely seriously, and dressing in an ape suit saying “You’ll go bananas with glee if you hire me” won’t go over well.
  • It’s also a very bad idea to bring food to an interview (or to send the hiring manager’s favorite brand of chocolate as a thank you after the interview). Why? Because it can come across as unprofessional and/or as if you’re trying to bribe the hiring manager.
  • Sometimes hand delivering your resume and cover letter to a company can be a good thing – it shows initiative and that you’re very interested in the job. But don’t keep coming back to the office for days on end saying you’re happy to sit in the lobby until the hiring manager has a few minutes to speak with you so that you can hand deliver it in person. Going to the office unannounced once and stating you’d like to meet with the hiring manager and that you promise to take only 15 minutes of his time is OK, but don’t do this every day. And, once again, be careful. If you want to work in a medical office and so you need to speak to the practice manager, you could come across as insensitive to how busy (tip: medical offices are almost always very busy) the office is. The practice manager may look at you as an annoyance rather than as a go-getter.

Now some tips for determining if a gimmick is a good idea:
The more creative the type of company you’re gunning to work for, the more willing they will be to you showing a little creativity. Advertising agencies, Web design companies, PR firms, art galleries, publishers, etc. all may be amenable to someone who shows – within reason – that she tends to look at things a little differently. Examples of such thinking include:

  • Putting together a short/small website that showcases your skills and background and then sending the url to the hiring manager.
  • Shooting a video of yourself and talking about your qualifications and what you can do for the employer.
  • If looking for work with a marketing company, putting together a mock marketing plan for a fictitious company and sending it to the hiring manager.
  • If looking for work where bilingual skills are required, offering to be interviewed in the language required.
  • Seeking work in as an engineer or mechanic? Asking the hiring manager if there’s a piece of equipment you could repair for him.

The main things to remember when thinking of using a gimmick to help your candidacy are these: Is it appropriate to the job you’re seeking and, if you were a hiring manager within the industry, would you think the gimmick was creative or stupid?
If looking for work in Anchorage, don’t forget to send your resume to the recruiters at the Opti Staffing Group. We have relationships with some of the area’s best employers and we’d love to help you find work with them. We look forward to hearing from you.