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Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


The Chocolate Roses & Hot Pink Paper Fail


Every now and then, the media latches on to a story about some creative job seeker and his or her strategy for getting attention. There was the guy who walked around Manhattan with a billboard around his neck. There was the guy who offered to work for charity in exchange for interviews. And the guy who created a slide show presentation instead of a resume.

Usually these stories end well – the job seeker in question quickly gets interviews and lands a new job. So I can understand why desperate job seekers look for ways to do the same. I came across this article via Twitter the other day:

One morning in May of 2009, Marguerite DiGaetano put on her best suit, stuffed her briefcase with chocolate roses, marched into a Miami office building and asked to see the human resources manager. Having received no response to her online application for an executive assistant position, she decided to personally deliver her resumé with a little something extra to get herself noticed.

DiGaetano says the receptionist told her the HR manager was not available and promised to pass along her resume, cover letter and chocolate roses. She never heard back from the company.

I feel so sorry for Marguerite. She has been unemployed for 18 months yet she’s a hard worker with a lot to offer potential employers. But her story gave me the perfect opportunity to write a blog post about the fine line between creative and corny. Later in the article, we read this:

she says she has tried every trick in the book to get back into the workforce. She has heavily dumbed down her resumé, divided her salary expectations in half, hand-delivered her materials to potential employers, and even printed out her resumé on hot pink paper with a footnote that said, “P.S. No, I am not a rock star, nor blonde (legally or otherwise). I’d be tickled pink at a chance to interview for this position.”

I have to be honest – if I were the recipient of either the roses or the hot pink resume, I would not hire Marguerite. The problem is that her creative approaches are not coming off as creative – they’re coming off as annoying and slightly desperate. But what’s the difference between her and the guy with the billboard?

The Secret to Effective Creativity

Each of the creative approaches I mentioned earlier work because they directly relate to the work the person would be doing in their next job, and because they were genuinely surprising.

To see what I mean, watch this short video about how one guy secured the exact job he wanted despite the awful economy (it only takes a few seconds and it’s worth it).

Genius!

The magic of this creative approach is that a) it was genuinely surprising but b) – and most importantly – it demonstrated the exact skills that are important for a creative professional in an advertising agency. Why on earth would any creative director hire the people who just mailed in resumes when this guy is available?

What Does it Mean for Marguerite?

Obviously, this doesn’t mean Marguerite should immediately buy up ads to attract the attention of executives who might be looking for an admin assistant. It wouldn’t work because it wouldn’t be related in any way to the work she would be doing in her new job. Instead, she should think about how she could apply this idea to her own field. How could she creatively demonstrate her worth as an admin assistant? (Hint: It won’t be by bribing the recruiter with chocolate!)

Oh and she should get her resume rewritten. I’d bet large amounts of money that it doesn’t even being to market her effectively. (Marguerite, if you happen to see this, drop me a comment and I’ll take a look for you).

Read more about Job Search.

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About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

7 comments on “The Chocolate Roses & Hot Pink Paper Fail”

  1. David Wit says:

    I know of a job seeker who, out of convenience, had his resume hand delivered by a friend to the company he was applying. Turns out the friend dropped the resume off, in uniform, on the way home from work as a Nashville Police Officer. From the reaction of the receptionist, the guess is she took the envelop directly to the manager unopened thinking it was official police business.The candidate did get contacted, and without comment about the delivery method. The delivery method used does not fit into the category you outlined of relating to the type of work applying for.

    Louise, what do you think? Coincidence? Lucky? Creative (by accident)? May have just had a good resume that fit the opportunity? Rework of the FedEx your resume approach?

    David

  2. Wow that’s interesting!

    My guess is he had a good resume that fit the position, and also that the dropping off in person helped (just because he didn’t get lost in email) but I wonder if the uniform helped too … maybe they thought they’d better respond in case they got in trouble!

    Perhaps we could run an experiment and have a few people try it 😉

  3. That video was AWESOME! What a creative and clever self marketing idea! Thank you for the post.

  4. Wasn’t it great?

    He both got their attention and proved why he deserved a job. I am a little bit surprised that they were all googling themselves quite that much!

  5. Sital says:

    Great post Louise – totally agree.

    Marguerite DiGaetano,

    If you read this, here are 5 steps to getting creative with your job search – but in a way that is show cases your skills and personality, instead of being creepy and annoying:

    1. Ask a question
    Ask your close friends and family what types of admin jobs or errands they are currently struggling with. What’s their biggest headache related to admin matters – personally or professionally?

    2. Then offer your services for *half a day* to help them resolve that big problem. Don’t accept any $$ for this. In exchange you want:

    a) A small donation to a charity that you’re passionate about. Something very personal to you (ie you take no $$ at all for the half day)
    b) A 2 minute video testimonial on what a wonderful job you did for them

    3. Record a short 2 minute video
    Featuring the satisfied ‘clients’ talking about how brilliant you are because of the *results* you delivered for them (ie saved them time, saved them money, reduced their stress levels).

    If appropriate, film some ‘before’ and ‘after’ footage (e.g. Before: disorganised desk / files, constantly late) Followed by ‘after’ – organised, colour coded, streamlined filing system and diary schedule after)

    4. Get the video’s up on YouTube
    And start spreading them via email, Facebook, Twitter along with the story of how much money you’ve raised for charity

    Then start offering more people the same half day.

    5. Contact the local newsletter
    – Invite them along to take pictures of you handing over the cheque to the charity and do a feature on your story and how you’re been creative in showcasing your skills whilst doing good.

    I can see the headline: “Marvellous Marguerite Turns Lemons Into Lemonade!”

    (okay, maybe I’m getting carried away!)

    But you get my point hopefully.

    If you spent your time doing all of the above, it shows potential employers that you’re creative, not afraid of hard work, persistent, well organised and have a heart.

    You’d also get a whole bunch of people acting as you’re unpaid recruitment team telling everyone about you and knocking on the doors of HR managers on your behalf.

    In the meantime, take up Louise’s offer to review your resume. Once you get to step 5, you’ll need it!

    4.

  6. EelynnLee says:

    “He both got their attention and proved why he deserved a job. I am a little bit surprised that they were all googling themselves quite that much!”

    Did they actually googling themselves? I think someone (Alec or Alec’s friends) must have emailed them about the ad.

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