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).


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 begin to market her effectively. (Marguerite, if you happen to see this, drop me a comment and I’ll take a look for you).

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