14 Extreme Job Hunting Stories

  • The Job Hunt

    Tired of spending hours crafting the perfect resume and cover letter only to send it out and never hear anything back? Many job hunters have dealt with the same frustration and eventually decided to abandon the usual application process in favor of something different and more creative. Not all of these people actually landed the jobs they wanted, but at least they can say they tried everything in their power. At the very least, they ended up with some great stories. Extreme job hunting may be more important now than ever. There are currently close to 15 million unemployed Americans, and more than 6 million of them have been out of work for 6 months or more. With that in mind, pulling a bizarre stunt once in a while isn't just a useful strategy, but it could also be good way to get some kind of release from the frustration of being rejected, or even worse, ignored. Photo Credit: Photomish Dan
    It's Not Always A Great Idea to Get Extreme
  • It's Not Always A Great Idea to Get Extreme

    Before we dive into these stories, we want to provide you with some context about whether and when extreme job hunting is a good idea. We asked Alexandra Levitt, career expert and author of the book New Job, New You: A Guide to Reinventing Yourself in a Bright New Career, for her thoughts on the matter. She said that it’s smart to step away from the “traditional model” of applying for jobs because it “doesn’t work.” Still, Levitt claims there is a right and a wrong way to be creative in your job hunt. “The best way to get a job is to target the specific organizations you want to work with and gradually start establishing one-on-one relationships within them,” she said. “You can start by finding people with your type of job on LinkedIn.com and asking them for a brief informational interview about what it's like to work in this organization and/or this field.” She even says you can go as far as finding out when an executive is speaking at a conference and “making a point to meet him there.” However, there are limits. Levitt says that you should be careful that your approach doesn’t come on too strong. You don’t want someone to think you’re stalking them and in general, she would recommend being clever rather than just by making a big scene. "What you should be creative about is how to gain appropriate access to and impress the people who have the power to hire you, not how you can get them to look up for a few seconds. You want to get interviews on the basis of your merits and your relationships, not your ability to buck the status quo.” Photo Credit: Wikimedia.org
    Thinking Outside the Box
  • Thinking Outside the Box

    One of our favorite extreme job hunting stories comes from Jack Goldenberg, who discovered the true value of a Happy Meal. Goldenberg had worked as a creative director at McDonalds and was looking for a job at an ad agency. He found a company he was interested in that was looking for “out of the box” thinkers. “I couldn't get anyone from the ad agency on the phone and pleading my case through e-mail seemed useless,” he said. “So I bought 6 Happy Meals, put my resume inside each one in envelopes that said, ‘Why hire an out of the box thinker when you can hire the person who created the box?’" But Goldenberg took his stunt one step further. Rather than mail the Happy Meals (that would have been a messy process), he decided to deliver them personally. “I got past the receptionist by giving the gatekeeper a Happy Meal,” he said. “Then I delivered four more Happy  Meals to the Creative Department and dropped off one to a hungry person in HR.” Unfortunately, Goldenberg didn’t get the job. In retrospect, he realized it may not have been the smartest maneuver. “They weren’t too happy I was roaming around the agency without a hall pass. I think my picture is now posted at the receptionist's desk along with Ronald McDonald's.” Photo Credit: jasonippolito
    Bad Fortune
  • Bad Fortune

    Samantha Goldberg currently works in television and gets to do most of the hiring these days, but several years ago, she was trying to land a sales job at a boutique in Chicago. So she decided to get a little creative. “I sent my resume and [cover letter] to the owner with a fortune cookie attached,” she said. “I asked her to open it and inside the fortune read, ‘If you hire me today, I promise good fortune with your sales.’” The owner was impressed enough by the stunt to hire her. However, the “good fortune” didn’t last too long for the company. The business closed down a year later and the owner relocated to London. Still, Goldberg admits she still uses the fortune cookie tactic sometimes when pitching proposals at her current job. Photo Credit: orangachang
    Yes We Can (But No, We Won't Hire You)
  • Yes We Can (But No, We Won't Hire You)

    Rosemarie Ashley was so inspired by Obama’s election that she decided to apply for a position in his administration. She had worked as a mortgage banker for 18 years and was interested in Obama’s claims to push for a consumer protection agency and reform the mortgage practices in this country. “I sent an unsolicited resume offering my service,” she said. But along with her resume and a “traditional cover letter,” Ashley decided to include a song she had written called “Yes We Can,” after one of Obama’s campaign slogans. The lyrics were a thinly veiled plea for employment. “Yes we can change the world today.  Take a look at my resume. Yes we can change the world today.  I’ve got the keys and I know the way. Listen, listen Mr. President.  Behind the music you’ll find business talent. How can I get through to you, Mr. President?” She didn’t get the job (or a Grammy for that matter) but at least she had some fun with the application process. Photo Credit: stop8
    Soliciting in the Subways
  • Soliciting in the Subways

    A while back, Tom, a human resources professional from New York City, was looking for an HR job at a new company. If anyone knows how hard it is to get a response from HR, it’s probably someone who works in HR, so Tom decided to do something unconventional. He “armed” himself with a “stack of resumes” and “proceeded to place them on the windshield of every [train] car” at five different stations. The resume included a brief outline of his skills and a “generic” email address, but “no identifying information less it be viewed as littering.” Amazingly, he actually received a dozen email inquiries from insurance companies, advertising agencies and a hospitality company, which led to four interviews and one job offer. However, we should note here that this is one of the stunts that Levitt, the career expert, explicitly condemned as “risky.” Photo Credit: Brave New Films
    Taking it to the Streets
  • Taking it to the Streets

    If putting up resume-flyers isn’t crazy enough, consider the story of Peter Shankman, who now runs HARO.com, a successful web service for journalists (HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out). Back in 1997, Shankman was desperate for work and decided to wear a sandwich board with his resume on it and spent 12 hours “on the coldest day of 1997” advertising himself. “I handed out 1000 resumes in one day, got 479 calls, 79 interviews and 37 offers. Seriously.” Not too bad for a day’s work. Shankman eventually landed a job with the New Jersey Devils developing web policies, all because of the sandwich board. Photo Credit: mecredis
    The Resume T-Shirt
  • The Resume T-Shirt

    Luckily, the art of extreme job hunting has advanced a bit since 1997. Now, you no longer need to don a sandwich board with your resume on it to get someone’s attention. Instead, all you have to do is wear a resume t-shirt. Jeremy Redleaf founded the site Resumeshirts.com to fill this need. (Yes, they also make shirts with cover letters on them.) He told us several success stories from people applying this method. “We had one customer wear their shirt to a party where one of their long-time acquaintances, who worked at a staffing agency, learned from the shirt that they had customer service experience and hooked them up with a long-term position the very next day,” he said. Then, there was the story of a woman who wore her shirt during the New York Marathon, which earned her a ton of free promotion. Photo Credit: Resumeshirts.com
    Paying for an Interview
  • Paying for an Interview

    Javier Pujals made news last year when he walked around Chicago with a sign reading “Will Buy Interview.” He even created a site called Buyaninterview.com. While some might question the merits of bribing your way to employment, Pujals argued that “It’s simply a matter of supply and demand. There are so many people looking for work and executives hate interviewing.”  According to the Financial Post, Pujals' stunt generated a lot of attention, and within a month, he had four job offers, all without actually paying for an interview. Photo Credit: quaziefoto
    Paying for an Interview... with an iPod Nano?
  • Paying for an Interview... with an iPod Nano?

    Pujals is not the only one to try the bribery route. Laura, an employee at a New York architecture firm, told us that one person applied to work at her company and sent an iPod Nano along with her resume and cover letter. “Our boss actually wanted to keep the Nano, but didn’t want to hire her,” she said. “As you can imagine, our HR person didn’t like that idea too much and forced the boss to return the Nano to the job applicant.” Photo Credit: Mr.Thomas
    The Radical Cover Letter
  • The Radical Cover Letter

    Several years ago, Lynn from Baltimore applied for a job at an ad agency and decided to take a risk. Rather than spend hours crafting the perfect cover letter, she simply wrote one line: “I will make your day-to-day life much easier.” Amazingly, the person doing the hiring found this to be very persuasive and refreshing and gave her the job. Photo Credit: nasaimages.org
    Getting Your Foot in the Door
  • Getting Your Foot in the Door

    Judy Misbin May wanted to make an impression when she applied for a marketing job, so she designed her resume in the shape of a foot, and then mailed it out with the tag line, “now that I have my foot in the door, let me tell you why I am the best for you.” Brilliant. Photo Credit: phos365
    Speaking Directly to the Company Executives
  • Speaking Directly to the Company Executives

    A couple years ago, Forbes asked business executives to tell them the craziest stunts job seekers had pulled to get their attention. One applicant apparently “put up posters of himself in the garage where the executive parked.” Another applicant “used an office building across the street to place a large sign with his qualifications posted.” Though some may deem these efforts creative, most executives viewed them as “unprofessional.” A better approach is to take Levitt’s advice and try a more thoughtful approach, whether it be at a conference or in an elevator. Photo Credit: egroj
    Renting a Billboard
  • Renting a Billboard

    Pasha Stocking, a single mother of three, lost her job as a marketing and sales director in 2008 and a few months later decided she needed to take her job hunt up a notch. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Stocking “paid more than $1,000 to rent a billboard… on Interstate 95 in Bridgeport, Conn. It sported her larger-than-life picture and the words ‘Hire Me!’” It may sound over the top, but Stocking ended up getting more than 300 e-mails to learn more about her as a job candidate. If you think about how much time you spend looking at job postings online and multiply that by a reasonable hourly salary, $1,000 starts to not sound like so much money for 300 responses. Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout...
    Resume, Cover Letter and a Cup of Coffee
  • Resume, Cover Letter and a Cup of Coffee

    The Monitor also has a story about a woman named Jann FritzHuspen who spent 18 months searching for a job before she decided to send out her application to three companies she was very interested in working for… along with a coffee mug and a note asking if they’d like to meet her for coffee. According to the Monitor, “Two ignored her. The third agreed and, a month later, offered her a job as executive director for a nonprofit organization…” Photo Credit: Randy Son of Robert
    Job Sweepstakes
  • Job Sweepstakes

    CNN Money reported on one job seeker who decided to create his own version of a job sweepstakes. Jacob Share sent his resume out to a bunch of friends family and told them to send it out to their friends and so on. To offer an added incentive, Share told them that he would give $150 to whoever led him to the job he wanted, a Web development manager. This tactic worked, and worked very quickly. Photo Credit: borman818
    Resume Mistakes
  • Resume Mistakes

    Whether or not you plan to imitate one of the above tactics, we suggest you punch up your resume first. Check out our list of 15 Costly Resume Mistakes that could mean losing the job you're applying for. After all, you don't want to go through all the trouble of putting your resume on a billboard or T-shirt only to find you've made a dumb mistake on it. Photo Credit: kafka4prez
    Tell Us Your Stories!
  • Tell Us Your Stories!

    Have you ever done something crazy or creative in an attempt to get a job? Did it work out? Tell us about it in the comments section! Photo Credit: daoro
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