Thinking Outside the Box to Land Your Next Job

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outside boxIn the job search process, landing an interview is one of the most important indicators of a job seeker’s success. An invitation to interview typically means that a job seeker was able to cut through the “noise” of other cover letters and resumes – and stand out to a potential employer in a compelling way.

By now, most of us understand that today’s employment market is highly competitive. Although you may be looking for a silver bullet to the interview chair, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for job seekers. Often, those that follow step-by-step instructions to “land the job” are missing an important piece of the employment puzzle. In life, and in the job search, success is dependent on the level effort that you are willing to put forth in reaching your goal – and on the creative or unique way that you demonstrate this effort to potential employers.

To be conventional, or not? That is the question

Some hiring managers will appreciate a more conventional creativity from job seekers during the hiring process. Here are some of the more conventional ways for job seekers to attract attention from hiring managers and land the interview:

  • Provide relevant examples of your work/portfolio/success record.
  • After you’ve applied for the position, call to follow up.
  • Be an expert on the company, including its history, names of the higher-ups, and function.
  • Be sincere and honest in all of your communication; avoid clichés, and make sure that you do not make any spelling or grammar mistakes in your cover letter or resume.

Even if you feel that the methods above are mundane, you can personalize each by approaching it in a unique way. For example, rather than leaving a simple spoken voicemail for the hiring manager of an open position, create a unique song about your interest in the position to leave as a message.

Thinking outside the box

Some of the most successful candidates in today’s job search are those that take some time to go “above and beyond” in making an interesting, creative, and dynamic effort to secure the interview. Below are some ways to do this.

Write out an action plan. Potential employers are looking for candidates who are action-oriented and who understand the impact of an open position on the company as a whole. Creating a proactive, creative plan of action that details what you will accomplish for the company during the first six months of employment shows initiative and focus.

Be dynamic. Encourage potential employers to think about your potential in a more visual way. Utilize your iPad or laptop to create a multimedia presentation on your best videos, shows, art, former employer video references, etc.

Seek alternate channels of communication.Send a video message through snail mail explaining why you’re the best candidate for the job. Print a candy bar wrapper resume and send a “sweet” package to the hiring manager at your target company. Sew up the position with your ingenuity.

Market yourself. Matthew Epstein created an online marketing campaign that highlighted his experience in a unique way – with the hope of scoring an interview at Google. With so much competition, drawing attention to your skills in an offbeat, funny, or interesting way is compelling.

Be straightforward.Here is a link to a creative and quite blunt cover letter from an undergraduate seeking an intern at in the investment banking field: Wall Street Bosses Are Calling This The Best Cover Letter Ever – But Not Everyone Agrees 

Rent a billboard. A woman named Pasha purchased advertising space on a billboard stating her availability for work ( Her scheme earned her lots of attention, and she decided to open her own public relations firm rather than take a more traditional position.

Be a billboard.

Grab a coffee. If you find out that a hiring manager likes Starbucks, have a coffee delivered every day for one week with your picture on it, and a note explaining why you’re the right candidate for the job.

Keep in mind that unique tactics may work, or they may turn hiring managers off. The response may depend on the type of job for which you are applying. There are some professional fields that tend to lean toward traditional versus non-traditional methods of the hiring process. So, use good judgment and if you’re not sure, ask around for advice.

Regardless of what approach you use to landing your job, remember to focus on your qualifications, as that is what is most important when it comes to filling open positions. Employers want to be assured that you have what it takes to succeed on the job. Convey your strengths in a positive way, and if it makes sense to be creative, go for it.

In a job market that is full of fierce competition, a little creativity and ingenuity actually goes a long way. Dare to think outside the box!

By Allison VanNest