Recruiting News

What Won’t Candidates Do to Get Noticed?

As recruiter, you’ve probably seen your fair share of unusual methods from candidates. Today we’ll look at a list of what some have tried and how you might handle them.

When you’re applying for a job, you don’t just want to get noticed, you want to stand out as the best applicant the hiring manager has ever seen. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, candidates are doing some creative and crazy things, but are they really helping them get a job?

The national online survey was conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll in 2016, and included more than 2,300 full-time, U.S. hiring and Human Resources (HR) managers across industries and company sizes.

“Candidates are realizing that an extraordinary cover letter and résumé with strong references aren’t enough, that if you really want the gig, you have to stand out from the competition,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief HR officer for CareerBuilder. “Unfortunately, what many aren’t realizing is that the catch is making sure you do that in a professional, respectful way.”

Doing Whatever It Takes

Hiring managers gave the following examples of unusual tactics jobseekers used to stand out, not always for the right reasons. We at BLR® have made some suggestions on what to do if you ever encounter these situations.

Candidate had a priest contact the hiring manager and ask for candidate to be hired.

Think of this as an up-front, personal reference. While this can seem desperate, and perhaps even make you a little uncomfortable, it does show that the candidate cares about getting the job and has good communication skills. If his or her résumé looks good, try not to hold this against him or her.

Candidate bought a first-class upgrade to sit next to hiring manager on a transatlantic flight.

Depending on the job position, this could be valuable or … less than valuable. A person with this level of tenacity and organization could be a great salesperson—look how far the candidate went for an interview. However, if you need someone for most other jobs, a clear tendency to overreach might be a real problem.

During the month of October, candidate came dressed in a costume for Halloween.

Unless you are a costume manufacturer, it’s hard to justify hiring a candidate who easily overlooks the accepted dress code for interviews. However, if you have a great sense of humor, and the candidate’s résumé checks out, you might have a great future employee.

Candidate’s wife made homemade lavender soap bars for the hiring manager as a thank you for taking the time to interview the candidate.

Such an action on the part of the candidate doesn’t really speak about his or her qualifications. All you have really learned is that this person thinks gifts help, and that the spouse is great at making soap. Compared to the other things on this list, bringing homemade soap doesn’t seem too bad. Candidates with gifts should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Candidate asked hiring manager to share an ice cream cone.

Hiring a considerate employee never hurts, but there might be boundary issues, or worse, when it comes to this kind of interviewee. Best to steer clear.

Candidate sent a pair of embroidered socks with a note saying he would knock the company’s socks off if hired.

Using gifts to get attention has its merits and flaws. It seems to suggest that the candidate thinks his or her position can be bought. On the other hand, it’s a nice gesture. Take a close look at candidates’ résumés to see if their experience and qualifications match their generous nature.

Candidate showed up in his camp counselor attire with some of the children from the camp he worked for to show his leadership capabilities.

Such an approach certainly shows initiative. However, it also shows an abuse of privileges. Aren’t those kids supposed to be at camp, not helping their counselor get a better job? Look out for interviewees who take these kinds of liberties.

Candidate sent a shoe with a flower in it as a thank you after the interview. The note said, “Trying to get my foot in the door.”

This gift-based interviewee distinguishes him- or herself from the soap and sock examples above by sending it in after the interview. A thank-you note is always a sign of decorum. If the interview went well, consider it a mark of professionalism.

Candidate mailed hiring manager money in an envelope.

No. No, no, no, no, no! Steer clear of this one. Besides, if they have disposable income, why are they looking for a job?

Tomorrow we’ll take a look at a few more real-world examples of candidates who did something a little extra to try to get noticed.