Five gimmicky job applications that worked - and five that didn't

Emma Woollacott
Carnival themed birthday party: Monkey banana cupcakes, chocolate frosting, animal crackers
Carnival themed birthday party: Monkey banana cupcakes, chocolate frosting, animal crackers

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and with dozens of applicants for every job, it's great if you can find a way to stand out from the crowd.

We've all heard examples of wacky job applications that have resulted in success - from icing your CV on a cake to hiring a billboard. But such tricks can easily backfire.

A survey from The Creative Group once found that
fewer than half of employers would consider an applicant with a gimmicky CV, and only two percent of marketing execs and eight percent of ad execs said it would help a candidate get hired.

In the non-creative world, the chances would probably be worse.

So which wacky applications actually do the trick? We've collected some examples from recruitment agencies and employers - along with a few that weren't such a success.

The ones that worked...

The stylised ad
Adzuna highlights the example of Monica Gomes, an artist and video editor who turned her CV into a retro ad.

"As well as looking out-of-the-ordinary, the piece took great care to demonstrate her artistic abilities and off-the-wall style," says Adzuna's Nasrun Mir. "Displaying information in a concise, one-page format also went a long way to making the end product extra easy on an employer's eye."

It did the trick, and she got the job.

The Lego models
Last year, a 20-year-old student looking for a summer internship created a Lego pitch including posters, two sets of instructions and an Lego model of herself. She posted it on Reddit - and was deluged with enthusiastic employers.

The clever psychology
Advertising executive Alec Brownstein got his dream job by counting on the vanity of potential employers. He spent $6 buying ads on Google for six of the top names in the industry, so that when those people searched on their own name, the first thing they saw was Brownstein pitch for work, with a link back to his site with his bio and portfolio. It worked.

The tailored approach
So you want a job at Google? What better way to get one than to show how you're exactly what the company should be searching for? Designer Eric Gandhi created a CV that looked like a Google search page: "Did you mean Eric Gandhi? Top result shown" it began.

Within half an hour of submitting the CV, Gandhi was called for interview - and landed a job as a designer.

The bare-faced cheek
In 2010, Andrew Horner decided that the best way to find a job was to get companies to apply to him.

"I have gone my entire life consistently producing excellent results at every task I set my mind to, and quite frankly, employers should be coming to me, not the other way around," he wrote.

"Once you've made up your mind about how much you want me to work with your company (before you ask, yes, 'infinitely much' is indeed an acceptable answer here), please review my listed qualifications and criteria for prospective employers."

He landed a job at a company called Nail Your Mortgage.

...and the ones that didn't

The pushy one
One manager had an applicant turn up out of the blue with a bamboo plant in a vase, as well as sweets and a card for the hiring manager. But when told that this wasn't appropriate, the applicant refused to accept no for an answer, saying she wanted to stand out from the crowd.

"It made her stand out, but definitely not in a good way," says the manager. "It was too bad, because she'd been on the shortlist to call for an interview (not anymore)."

The terrible pun
Katharine Brooks, executive director of personal and career development at Wake Forest University, tells Business Insider that she received one application with a vial of red liquid enclosed. The attached cover letter explained that the candidate would "sweat blood" for the job: they didn't get the chance.

The creepy one
One manager received a gift bag containing a CV, a cake - and a framed photo of the applicant.

"I was so incredibly creeped out by this gesture," she says. "I didn't know whether to laugh or execute a restraining order. I was afraid to eat the cake and couldn't look at him and didn't even call him for an interview."

The surreal one
Job search coach Cynthia Shapiro says a job hunter once dropped off his CV at her office at a construction company - wearing a gorilla suit. He then burst into a song describing why he would be a good candidate.

"The receptionist said he couldn't come in, but he kept running around with balloons and calling my name," she says. "Everyone thought it was my birthday. The CEO came out. It wasn't cool."

The irritating video
Alan Collins, founder of Success in HR, says he's sick of getting video CVs because they take up valuable time. This applies even to a really good one, he says:

"I retained none of the applicant's pertinent information and there was no way for me to access the resume content in this video without committing to viewing it again or transcribing it. So I trashed it."

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