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Job hunting: Stand out, don't weird out

December 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
You've seen the news reports -- more than 10 million Americans are unemployed. Snagging a job can seem as likely as winning the lottery these days. But there are some ways to make yourself stand out.In job hunting, you can find yourself competing against thousands of other applicants. So sometimes it takes more than a polished resume and good interview skills to get the attention of those doing the hiring. Let's just say you might have to be a bit unique.

But how far would you go to land the perfect job? Would you dance an Irish jig? Lead a Congo line? Dye your hair blue?

"Candidates are looking for unusual ways to make sure they stand out in the crowd, and I think that's only going to increase as the market gets tighter," said Rosemary Haefner of CareerBuilder.com.

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, 12 percent of hiring managers surveyed said they've seen an increase in unusual job hunting tactics in the last year.

"Some of the ones that stand out to me is somebody got a billboard and put up there that they were looking for a job," said Michael Erwin from CareerBuilder.com. "And another person wore a shirt to an interview that said, 'Please hire me.' And my favorite -- someone sent breakfast to the office every day until he was hired."

In companies like Communications Method, creativity is a must. Director Colleen Reilly requires all prospects to show what they'll do to keep the company "weird."

"The whole company has gotten to vote on my hair color three different times," explains Reilly.

The idea was to find employees who will fit in with the company's hip environment. When Michelle Hall went in for her interview for brand manager, she decided to lead a spontaneous yoga class. She got hired.

But be aware, not every company values that kind of creativity. Your best bet is to learn about the company's corporate culture before you apply.

And while you want to be memorable, experts have a warning.

"Be careful that you're not remembered for the wrong reason," said Erwin. "Some of the ideas we've heard, such as following a hiring manager into a restroom to have a private conversation -- I wouldn't advise that."

And never do anything you don't feel comfortable with personally.

"If you do get the job, it's a reputation that's going to follow you for the rest of your career at that firm," said Erwin. "So be mindful of how well it represents you. You want to be professional and creative. You don't want to look too wacky."

The bottom line is that in job hunting, even in today's economy, experts say nothing can replace a good old-fashioned, well-crafted resume.


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