Totally Desperate Job-Hunting Attempts That Actually Worked

In total, 13.1 million Americans are out of work—more people than live in Beijing or Sao Paolo. The city proper populations of New York and Los Angeles combined do not equal the unemployed population in America.  Over four million of those job seekers have been unemployed for more than a year, and some are resorting to some pretty bizarre tactics in order to attract employers’ attention. Here are some wild job-hunting stunts that actually landed a job:

Tempting Fortune: Samantha Goldberg now works in television, but several years ago, she was trying to get a sales job at a Chicago boutique. She included a fortune cookie with her resume and cover letter. The fortune said: “If you hire me today, I promise good fortune with your sales.”   The owner gave her the job but unfortunately the business closed down a year later. Goldberg says she still uses the fortune cookie stunt to add flare to proposals at her current job.

Help a Guy Out: Peter Shankman, who now runs, a successful web service for journalists (HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out), was so desperate for work back in 1997 that he spent 12 hours on a cold New York City street corner wearing a sandwich board with his resume on it.  He handed out 1000 resumes, got 479 calls, 78 interviews and 37 offers.  The long, cold day landed him a job with the New Jersey Devils working on web policies.

Highway Bribery:  Javier Pujals walked around Chicago wearing a sign that said: “Will Buy Interview.” He also created a site called According to, Pujals' sign got him exposure from local media, and within a month, he had four job offers without actually ever paying for an interview.

Will Pay for a Lead: CNN Money reported on Jacob Share, 33, who sent his resume out to friends and family and asked them to send it out to their contacts. Share offered a $150 reward to whoever led him to a Web development manager position. He quickly got a job from one e-mail forward from a friend.

Google It: Alec Brownstein got hired after buying a Google ad targeting five creative directors who worked at his top-choice firms.  He paid 15 cents an ad to move his ad up to the top of the list when the executives googled their own names. When Ian Reichenthal of Young & Rubicam saw the ad, he called Brownstein for an interview and later hired him. 

Bright Lights, Big Job: Last December, Liz Hickok strung holiday lights on her house in Alpharetta, Georgia that read: "My wish, HR job, Liz Hickok, Linked In." According to CBSAtlanta, Hickock has gotten attention from employers as far away as Italy, but she is sifting through LinkedIn views and offers to find the right opportunity in Atlanta.

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Career AdviceFirst ImpressionGimmicksResume Advice
  • Comments 0

Tiny Shoes and Other Gimmicks

For sale: baby shoes, never worn (Ernest Hemingway)
Photo by Alastair Humphreys

Someone we know once received a package at his office that contained a baby shoe and a note that said, “I'll do anything to get my foot in the door!” There may have been a resume and a cover letter buried in there, but our friend's office was so amused (and not in a good way) by the baby shoe thing that the important stuff was completely overlooked. But even if it hadn't been, who wants to be the person who hired the baby shoe guy?

Creativity isn't a bad thing, and the baby shoe guy was obviously committed enough to getting the job to put time and effort into his presentation. His problem was that his gimmick undermined the substance of his resume. The overall feeling in our friend's department was that baby shoe guy didn't have a lot to offer in the way of actual experience, so he used an attention-getting tactic in the hope that they wouldn't notice he wasn't particularly qualified. That's the trouble with using gimmicks: they automatically suggest that someone is trying to put one over on the people doing the hiring. “Hey, look at this cute thing!” it says. “Please don't notice that my cover letter is written in crayon!”

“Hey, wait a minute,” you might think. “Aren't your fancy resumes just another example of this?” That's a question we hear occasionally, and it's a good one. The way we see it, the defining quality of a gimmick is the element of subterfuge. If you're flashy enough with your baby shoe or your cookie bouquet or YouTube video or whatever, maybe no one will notice your shortcomings.

A well-designed resume, on the other hand, is meant to highlight your qualifications. Our layouts bring the story of your career to life using proven design principles. If your qualifications are solid, we contend that a well-designed resume is the frosting on the cupcake of your professional achievement. However, if you majored in underwater basket weaving and your most impressive accomplishment is playing Call of Duty for 14 hours straight, there is no font, no color combination, no design element that can convince someone to hire you.

  • Author Emory Cash
  • Category Baby ShoesCareer AdviceGimmicksResume AdviceResume Content
  • Comments 0