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by SixFigureStart | November 03, 2009


Nobody who's looking for a job right now needs any reminding how much competition there is out there. It's tough landing the job of your dreams at the best of times, but standing out from the ever-increasing crowd of candidates is exponentially harder at this point in history. Clearly, then, those that can separate themselves from the pack, and make their resume pop out to recruiters and hiring managers, have the potential to give themselves a serious advantage. Of course, the flip side of standing out is that it becomes that much easier to go down in flames: get too gimmicky or come off too desperate, and the only preferential treatment you're likely to get is the privilege of being the first resume on the discard pile.

With that in mind, the folks at have put together the following list of things that candidates have done to try and give themselves that edge. Our opinion: while some of them might work, many run the risk of crossing that invisible barrier between ingenious/self-motivated and corny/desperate. We'll leave it to you to figure out which is which—and feel free to let us know your own thoughts via the comment field.

  • Advertise Yourself: Imagine being stuck in traffic and glancing up at a billboard only to see the words “HIRE ME” under a massive headshot. That’s what 37 year-old Pasha Stocking did in order to get noticed! Although the stunt was a little pricey (Stocking spent up to $7,000 to purchase the ad) she got major attention from news networks such as NBC and CNN.
  • “HIRE ME” Sandwich Board: “Experienced MIT Grad For Hire” read the sandwich board that Joshua Persky was wearing as he handed out resumes in a highly concentrated area of investment houses and commercial banks. Thankfully for Persky the stunt worked, as it garnered the attention of an accounting firm in midtown Manhattan, where he is currently working.
  • What’s Your Resume Gimmick?: A job candidate recently admitted to sending a shoe along with his resume in order to get “his foot in the door.” Similarly, another candidate sent his resume wrapped as a present and said he was a “gift to the company.” Another way some Web sites suggest to differentiate a resume is to print it on different color paper other than white, cream, or grey. Printing a resume on a bigger sized sheet of paper will also ensure it will stand out from the stack of 8 1/2 x 11 inch papers.
  • Got Food?: A job candidate once sent a cake designed as a business card with his picture printed on the cake. In another foodie instance, a job seeking hopeful baked cookies with icing to write several reasons why she should be hired. These candidates go to show that the way to someone’s heart is through their stomach?
  • Bringing props to the interview: When asked a difficult question during his interview, Vinh Nguyen pulled out a white board in order to write down his thought process. This allowed him to take control of the interview, differentiating himself from other candidates. Nguyen admits, “It was awkward at first, but breaking away from the norm will pay off as long as you put in the work beforehand researching.” At another interview, a candidate who was exhibiting his theme park models brought in clowns who walked around the room for close to a minute singing and playing music. This tactic was successful as he was offered a job and more money equipped with a generous salary offering.
  • Video resumes: With the advent of YouTube, candidates are trying different ways in order to get their names out there. According to TIME magazine, Benjamin Hampton, a recent graduate from Washington State University in Pullman, posted a 5 minute video on YouTube in an effort to promote himself through a different medium. The stunt was successful as he was able to land an interview with a PR firm.

--Posted by Phil Stott,