don’t send chocolate or lottery tickets to hiring managers

I wrote a piece for Slate today about gimmicks in job searching — the reasons some candidates feel compelled to use them, some of the weirdest stunts people have tried, and why they really, really, really don’t work.  (And yes, I mentioned last week’s lottery ticket sender.)

You can read it here.

{ 225 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous Educator

    In case anyone knows kids applying to college or university, these gimmicks also don’t work for admission offices, either.

    1. Slow Gin Lizz

      Or if you’re a salesperson and you are trying to close a deal. One salesperson showed up at my office with cookies when I was looking for a new product for our company. The really dumb thing is, we’d already chosen his product, we were just waiting for approval from the head boss to sign the deal. And he KNEW THAT.

      Also, they were lousy store-bought cookies, but that’s really beside the point.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I could see this as a “welcome new customer” thing, but duh, somebody was out of the loop.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz

          Yeah, he was definitely still doing his salesperson job and thinking his action would help close the deal. I know this because he would call at least once a week to see how the decision-making was going and I regularly told him, in no uncertain terms, that we were ready to buy but I couldn’t sign anything until head boss gave her approval and that her schedule was crazy-busy so it would be at least a month until we got approval. But the day he showed up at our office, completely unexpectedly and with no appointment or heads-up that he was coming, with a bag of cookies earned him the forever-moniker of Cookie Guy.

          He also still calls every few months to see, I dunno, how we’re enjoying the product, I guess? It’s really annoying. He read the wrong “how to sell products” book. My old boss wrote a book about selling and this guy did everything wrong, according to my old boss’ book.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        Uh… Vendors bring cookies, donuts or other food items all the time to clients…

        Like everyone in transportation does this. We’ve had reps bring us pizzas. And we’re huge accounts. That’s just client relations. They have budgets for that.

        1. Slow Gin Lizz

          This was different. It was a one-time purchase, and we are not an industry that has regular vendors. We are not going to be a huge account for his company, either, since we are a small office of less than 15 people.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Big accounts are relevant to the area, reps radius and products offered.

            I’m sure he’s exhausting, I field reps from all over and have never worked for a company with more than 30 employees overall. But that’s still basic sales tactics.

            I asked for a quote awhile back and the dude just showed up. I wish he had at least brought branded company swag. The branded band aids from the Kaiser rep was way worse than a box of genetic animal crackers.

            1. league.

              I know you meant “generic animal crackers,” but I’m now trying to figure out what a genetic animal cracker would be….

              1. fnom

                “Has this cookie gone moldy or something, it tastes…fuzzy? *looks at box: ‘Now with real lion in every bite!’* Ewwww…”

                1. Little Bobby Tables

                  At a previous job, somebody brought octopus cookies back from Japan. I don’t think the octopus was very fresh either, probably dried going by how the cookies tasted.

        2. Incantanto

          Pre or post sale? I’d genuinely have to report it as bribery if we were still deciding on contract choice.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch

            Industry dependent…

            This isn’t the government, it’s private sector and no contracts are given out. I can switch vendors on a whim. I also have a ton of junk drawer treasures from the years.

            It sits funny with me classifying novelty items and snacks as bribes.

            But many in the medical world stopped being allowed swag from pharmaceutical reps over the years. So I get that’s a thing.

    2. Elizabeth West

      Or if you’re a writer seeking representation, don’t do this to agents or publishers.

      Part of submission guidelines and job application requirements is to see how well you can follow directions. If you circumvent those, a hiring manager can imagine you going around their instructions when you’re on the job and think you’ll be hard to work with (agents too).

      Besides, would you really WANT to work for a boss who’s easily bribed?

      1. Falling Diphthong

        Hiring manager/agent, etc: “Look, I have standards, but those standards pretty much turn to mush before your basic $6 box of drug store chocolates. Especially if it’s around 3 pm.”

    3. Dagny

      Kids think they work for college applications because their guidance counselors, parents, and internet tell them that it works. This happens because people do not understand how college admissions works and thinks that it will literally be them or 20 identical candidates.

      It is torture to get people to understand the concept of “institutional need,” and that a university or corporate office needs a talented student or employee, not a one-time potted orchid source.

      1. Ego Chamber

        Seriously. If your megarich parents aren’t willing to build a new campus library, just gtfo with that “cute gimmick to stand out from the crowd” noise.

  2. Ginger

    I know someone who delivered a tray of homemade brownies to a hiring manager. She didn’t understand why every one of her friends told her it was bad idea.

    I literally face-palmed when she told me. So, so bad in so many ways.

    1. Observer

      Well, I do know of ONE place where that worked – but the applicant was applying for the role of cook, and so was bringing in some work product.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        That’s more like a portfolio, though.

        (A job interviewing bakers would be delicious. The best part of wedding planning by far was cake tastings. Howe else does one show that they are an awesome cupcake-maker?)

        1. Amy Farrah Fowler

          Ironically, I was nonplussed by the baker that our venue recommended. I set an appointment and specifically said that I wanted to try their spice cake, but when I showed up, there was no spice cake! They told me that it’s “the same as the carrot cake, but without the carrot”. How on earth should I imagine that? They thought they had it “in the bag” because they were the preferred baker for the venue, but NOPE!

          We ended up having a tasting with a woman who did cakes on her own (not a shop), and she was LOVELY. I’ve ordered from her for other events since then.

          1. Environmental Compliance

            That is the exact reason why we chose a venue who didn’t have any catering requirements! We had a friend that was forced to use only the caterer that the venue ‘hosted’, and they weren’t awful….but they weren’t great, either.

            We walked out of one appointment where they were confused that we’d want to try some of the cake flavors offered. Uh, isn’t that the point of this appointment…?

            (Sorry for going off-track on cake tasting!!)

            1. The Original K.

              My friend is vegan and had this problem – her venue did not do well by her in terms of tasty vegan options.

              1. Pomona Sprout

                Yeah, vegan baking is a challenging endeavor. I know this because my daughter (who is nowhere near vegan or even vegetarian) is allergic to eggs and has tried many vegan baking recipes over the years in search of tasty treats she can safely eat. Baking a cake without eggs is freaking hard, man! I just hope she can find a really good vegan baker if she and her boyfriend end up getting married, so they can have a cake she can actually eat.

            2. Amy Farrah Fowler

              Yeah, Cake tasting is definitely a rabbit-hole. LOL

              The venue we used didn’t have “requirements”, but would provide recommendations, and if you wanted to use someone else that was fine. Pretty much the only “limitation” was “Please do not put things that are on fire (lanterns, candles, etc) in trees for safety reasons”. Everything else was fair game. They were extremely accommodating.

      2. sheworkshardforthemoney

        I did that when I applied for a baker position. I brought in several kinds of cookies because the restaurant wanted made from scratch desserts, I got the job.

    2. Snark

      I never understand people who, when told by their entire social circle that an idea is a bad one, just forge forward. No! It must be the children who are wrong!

      1. Falling Diphthong

        It was one of those Miles Vorkosigan lines that is hilarious in situ, but exactly why you would never want to work with Miles in real life. Everyone I love and trust and whose opinion I value is telling me this; I guess I’m right and they’re all wrong.

        1. Awful Annie

          Miles Vorkosigan delivered homemade brownies to the Cetagandan empire…?

          (When I took up my current job, I did describe it to some people as feeling like the Dendarii accountant desperately trying to keep the money circling.)

            1. Gazebo Slayer

              +10000

              (I seem to remember hearing that a fan made butter bug finger puppets and showed them to Lois McMaster Bujold, to her great amusement.)

          1. Dr Wizard, PhD

            I absolutely love the accountant’s reaction when Miles suggests ‘creative accounting’ to her. You can imagine the tone of voice, the raised eyebrows … and then when she gets really into it it’s hilarious. (‘Yeah, I finally get to do Naughty Accounting!’)

            I am also loving these references.

        2. Hapless Bureaucrat

          I often think the most exhausting part of those Miles Vorkosigan types must be the copycats.

          For every one teenage admiral of a mercenary fleet, you end up with at least a dozen Barrayaran officers in line for a court martial. And they’re all confused because it worked for HIM.

          1. Naomi

            The real reason Miles’ exploits are mostly classified: because Illyan thought “One is enough.”

      2. Allison

        I had the opposite problem when I was in college. I was surrounded by people giving me garbage, outdated advice on how to find a job (“you need to print out 100 copies of your resume, and go around the city handing them out to companies until you’re all out, then do the same thing the next day” or “apply to literally every job you see”) and when I’d tell them I wasn’t going to do that, they’d insist I’d never get a job if I didn’t, because I was a political science major and I wasn’t allowed to be picky.

        My mistake, in hindsight, was being honest. I should have just nodded, and pretended I was totally gonna do it.

  3. Camille McKenzie

    Here’s a good question.
    What do you think of sending a “Thank You” note after an interview?

    My mother–and other job search tip sources–always insisted on it, for the same “make yourself stand out” reason and I always have.

    The card’s style is very plain and simple and so is my message–“Thank you for the interview opportunity, I look forward to working with your company, etc.”

    Is this common courtesy or another gimmick that backfires on someone?

    1. Amber Rose

      That’s pretty common courtesy I think. Except its usually an email. Written notes tend to end up in the garbage I think.

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler

        Also, if you send it in the mail, it may arrive after decisions have been made, so definitely send by email. Also, it’s not just a “thank you”, it’s more of a “follow-up” where you can re-iterate your interest based on the things discussed in the interview.

    2. Coffee Bean

      Alison has done a few posts on them. But in general great idea, but more typically done over email and more effective when referencing something in the interview that stood out to you. This not only makes it easier for the employer to receive but also cements the idea that you have been thoughtful about the interview and would like to proceed.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Written cards are archaic and don’t make it there fast enough anymore due to emails and fast decision making.

      Thank you letters are a show of manners and tradition. They’re not gimmicks.

      1. Arctic

        That really depends on the industry, I think.
        If it’s government (at least state and local) or some traditional law firms then written cards are the way to go. Decisions aren’t made that quickly and it tends to be looked on more highly.
        Other industries like marketing or much of the tech field (not all) you might as well tell them you ride a dinosaur to work.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          Ah and their mail rooms are to be trusted, I presume. Cards get tossed in the junk mail in places I’m hiring for. The only thing that comes in card envelopes are hokey advertising so they self select out.

            1. The Man, Becky Lynch

              Do you also then get the advertisements and catalogs?

              Reason 436 why I’m not suited for any business with a mail room anyways. I only want what pertains to business. If it’s not an invoice, check or notice from the government, etc, it’s junk.

        2. Not All

          Hard “no” to paper thank you notes at federal government level. Email is definitely the way to go.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        Which is a shame, because many years I ago I invested in personalized notecards on beautiful card stock. It took me almost 20 years to go through one box. Granted, I’m glad I have them (I had two boxes) because they’re great for many reasons, but I stopped using them for interview thank-yous in 2004.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch

          I use fancy thank you cards to send people who let me stay with them or for gifts received. I’m a huge fan of greeting cards still as well but that’s a different kettle of fish.

          I could see them used to give your staff occasional personalized thank yous.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Same here. I have some nice discontinued cards from way back in the day when my folks ran a Hallmark shop, and some stuff I bought more recently on clearance. I use them for personal thank-yous.

          1. The Original K.

            Ditto. I have a big stockpile of cards (basically when I see a card or pack of cards that I like, I buy it) and I use those for more personal things. If you hosted me for a weekend, you’e getting one of those cards with a little gift card in it.

    4. Emi.

      Agree about email, and you can also make it less generic, especially by mentioning something specific you learned in the interview.

    5. Environmental Compliance

      A thank you note really should be considered more as a ‘follow up’ note – you follow up, say thank you, put something vaguely meaningful that you picked up from the interview. IE:

      “Hello again (interviewer – send one to each interviewer if you can),

      Thank you for your time today – I appreciated learning more about (topic discussed during interview). I especially found (topic) interesting, as I have previously (tie in your prior experience here). I look forward to speaking with you further about this position.

      Thanks again,
      Your Name”

      I’ve always sent a thank you follow-up via email using this general script.

    6. Arctic

      I think this site is always pro follow-up cards (although I think AAM doesn’t like to think of them as “thank you” cards.)

    7. kristinyc

      I had a candidate overnight a written thank you note after a phone interview. She hadn’t been the strongest candidate anyway, and then I just felt bad that she spent $23 to send me a note that was nice but wasn’t going to make her a better candidate. As someone who hires – I prefer a thank you email, sent either later that day or the next day. I don’t necessarily consider it a deal breaker to not send one, but if I have several equally strong candidates who would move to the next round, it does make a difference! Or, if someone is the strongest candidate but doesn’t send a thank you, it doesn’t make them less strong.

      Likewise – if I’m interviewing for a job I really want, I always do a nice customized thank you/follow up email. If I’m lukewarm about it, I do a generic “thanks for taking the time to speak with me” (because even if I don’t want THIS job, our paths may cross someday or there may be something else I do want at the company down the road). If I hated the interviewer and would never work for/with them or their company, I don’t bother with a thank you. So – as a hiring manager, not getting a thank you does kind of indicate lack of interest to me.

    8. Been There

      Except if you are applying for a job in fundraising at a nonprofit! Then please do send a handwritten thank you note….for a fundraiser, writing thank you notes is a BIG part of the job!

    9. hayling

      Actually, it’s neither. A good thank-you note is actually a “follow up” email. Google “thank you note” on this site and you’ll see more of Alison’s take on it. It’s to “show that you digested everything you learned in that meeting, and conclude that you’re still enthusiastic about the position.

  4. NerdyKris

    Now I’m just imagining someone giving chocolate to the hiring manager at a chocolate factory.

    “I’m sorry, are you aware of what we make here?”

    1. Amber Rose

      Not sure if that would be funnier with the company’s own chocolate, or a competitor’s chocolate.

    2. kristinyc

      I work at Girl Scouts and someone sent our CEO cookies. In January (so, uh, during Girl Scout cookie season). Uhhh… thanks?

    3. Drew

      Depending on the manufacturer, there could be worse ideas.

      Imagine being a manager at Godiva and getting a call from the front desk. “Hey, boss, there’s some lady on a horse who says she’s here for you. She looks cold.”

  5. Arctic

    I get that these gimmicks are dumb. But if I send a lottery ticket and it’s a big winner I better get that job and better be unfirable!!

    1. Arctic

      In fact, maybe that’s the explanation for all of those horrible employees who are mysteriously “unfireable” that come up here…

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      If it’s a big winner, then the hiring managers spot is probably going to be magically vacant as well.

      Note to self, if you want your bosses job, try buying them a lottery ticket. How’s that for gifting up, yikes!

    3. Rainbow Roses

      You’re probably joking but you’d have *less* of a chance of getting hired if the ticket is a winner. There’s no way to prove it’s not bribery.

      1. Rob aka Mediancat

        — depends when the date of the drawing is. Someone capable of rigging a lottery probably doesn’t need to be sending gifts to a hiring manager.

  6. Observer

    I think it’s also worth pointing out that the gifts can also trigger some questions about your ethics. In some jobs that could be a really big problem. If the position is a decision making one, or on the influences decisions, that’s going to worry a lot of managers.

    1. Public Sector Manager

      Huge plus to this!

      I work as a lawyer in my state’s government, and if a job applicant sends any gift, regardless of whether it’s chocolate or a used, dirty shoe, it has to be reported to my boss (our deputy agency head) and HR as a potential bribe in violation of civil service rules.

      That alone will kill your immediate job prospects. And seriously make us question the job applicant’s ethics.

      1. Hapless Bureaucrat

        At the very least, it’d make me question their understanding of government employment and the hiring process.

        In my state, a candy bar would be considered nominal value and okay to accept (the shoe… would require parsing). But even if I wanted to take the candy bar into consideration, it’s not accounted-for in the scoring methods at all. And HR’s not gonna accept “yeah I realize this guy has fewer of the preferred quals than candidate B, but he sent me a Payday! We should totally interview him instead.”

      2. Chip

        “whether it’s chocolate or a used, dirty shoe”

        Don’t dismiss the shoe. A used, dirty shoe worn by Michael Jordan in an NBA game can be worth big bucks.

  7. Emi.

    I think George Lucas did the shoe thing with his original Star Wars script. But, dude, your resume is not a Star Wars script. Even a first draft.

    1. Arctic

      My resume is very similar to the script for Phantom Menace both exceedingly boring and nonsensical.

      1. Drew

        Doesn’t seem to understand the background, full of unexplained holes, contains sentences not speakable by normal human mouths… story checks out.

    2. Vicky Austin

      I think in the arts and entertainment, some gimmicks might work in your favor because it shows you are creative. But in most industries, it would stand out in a bad way.

  8. Ops manager

    I wonder if this sort of stuff use to be more common, before people applied on-line.

    I wonder because after I graduated college my parents had a fit I wouldn’t try any of it – they thought it meant I wasn’t serious, and wouldn’t do what it takes. Truly, I was just way too embarrassing, but I didn’t know at the time it wouldn’t be received well. I feel like some of this is bad advice from parents

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Back when jobs were scarce and people were desperate, gumption got you further. Now we have set procedures and aren’t allowed to take bribes or incentives in a lot of professions!

      1. GreyjoyGardens

        I think it was, and while stupid gimmicks (like the old, dirty shoe, EW!) were always stupid, “clever” designed resumes and gumption were more common and more accepted. It was *good* to walk in to a company with a resume, or just fax your resume over to a company you wanted to work for even if they weren’t advertising (that worked for me!).

        *Why* this worked was because advertising for a job meant putting in an ad in the newspaper or trade journals, and those were expensive. Pawing through stacks and stacks of paper resumes and playing phone-tag with applicants was frustrating and time-consuming. Having a “bird in the hand” – who walked in or cold-called or faxed – who was an okay if not great fit saved a lot of time and trouble and money.

        Now that everything is online, and people can be reached by email (thus no phone tag), it costs nothing to have a job posting on one’s website or on Craigslist, etc. etc. – there is no need for gumption or gimmicks and they have become annoying. Times change and dad’s or grandma’s advice is as outdated as “put the baby to sleep on his stomach.”

        1. Jadelyn

          Minor side note, job postings on CL actually do cost. As do postings almost everywhere except one’s own careers page on the business’s own website. And the cost can get up there…LinkedIn, for example, is wildly expensive. Monster’s pretty pricey as well – up to $300ish for a 30 day posting. We get a bulk rate on our contract and I think that brings it down to like…$185 or somewhere around there? But we buy around a hundred per year, so. Still not cheap.

          However, it’s far easier to post, even though you generally do still need to devote a budget to it – a lot of ATS’s have one-click push to external sites if you configure them to hook up to your accounts on those sites, so that eliminates a lot of the “ugh this is a hassle, let’s just hire this guy who walked in and saved us all that effort”.

        2. The Man, Becky Lynch

          I think a lot of it is due to company size as well. You can’t get to Jeff Bazos or Mark Cuban like the old timey well known business man who was okay at the idea that Johnny Gumption waltzed on in ready to take any job you throw at him.

          The bigger the company, the crazier the maze is and more set procedure. Also the labor laws and labor unions started rolling out the red tape.

          Recruiting is still expensive these days but it’s EASY! And you have more control.

          Lot’s of companies now want fit. Whereas it wasn’t as necessary before when sure I’ll hire you right now, sure you can even volunteer for a few free days of labor, no laws to stop that and if I don’t like you, I tell you to scram. Nope. Now if you’re hired, letting you go can be a real sticky thing.

    2. Amber Rose

      When I was a kid, my mom got a resume printed on a soup can. The experience and stuff was the “nutritional info” and the skills were the ingredients or something like that. I remember that she was impressed and liked it. In a giant stack of printed resumes, the flashy ones were more noticeable. But that was a long time ago. I don’t even know if we had a home computer back then, and internet use wasn’t common for another few years.

      The funniest part of that story to me is that it makes me feel old, but I’m actually pretty young. Technology just moves that fast.

        1. Amber Rose

          Not sure! I know he at least got the interview. I think they may have hired someone who interviewed better though. A flashy resume only got you in the door, it didn’t make up for a lack of interviewing skills.

      1. Antilles

        The funniest part of that story to me is that it makes me feel old, but I’m actually pretty young. Technology just moves that fast.
        Yep. I’m only in my 30’s and I clearly remember my pre-school teacher being stunned when my dad mentioned that our family owned our own computer in the late 80’s. Like we were the Rockefellers or something because we had an Intel 386.
        In fact, I’ve heard that a few years before that, it was so rare to own a computer that my parents would have friends come to their house just to look at the computer because a significant fraction of their entire extended middle-class social network had never actually *seen* a home computer before.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          Maybe it was just because we were all geeks, but a few of my friends and I had home computers back in the early 80s. Like Atari 400/800s, VIC-20s, and Apple IIs.

          1. Autumnheart

            I honestly would have considered someone who had a home computer to be pretty damn well-off. They cost $4K in today’s money, and that was for the cheapest one. Most people were most definitely not in a position to drop four grand on an electronic device. Same with the Ataris. If you had one of those, you had money.

            1. Andraste's Knicker Weasels

              Or, less commonly, you saved and saved and saved and sacrificed to get one because you were a sci-fi fanatic and were (correctly) sure that computers were The Future and determined that your kids were gonna know this stuff ASAP.

              Thanks, mom <3<3<3<3

        2. Amber Rose

          I distinctly remember learning about email and thinking it was cool, and my mom saying it was little more than a gimmick because it only worked if the other person had an email, and hardly anyone even had a computer let alone internet. And my games were all on multiple hard disks.

          It really wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like another age.

          1. londonedit

            I got my first mobile phone in 1999 – I was 17 and had just passed my driving test, and and because I lived in a rural area my parents wanted me to be able to call someone if I broke down on a country lane. At the time only two of my school friends had phones, and I remember sitting with them one day talking about how weird the ‘text message’ feature was. Why would you want to send someone a text message (at that time texts had a tiny character limit, and it used to cost 25p to send and 25p to receive each text) when you could just call them? We just couldn’t understand how it could possibly catch on.

    3. Antilles

      I don’t know about ‘more common’, but I’d definitely guess that the concept originated before on-line applications, way back when the most common way to apply for a job was physically stopping by to apply. At that point, bringing a box of cookies would be vaguely analogous to the old rule about “always bring a gift when you visit someone’s house”.

    4. Leela

      I was taught in high school to use brightly colored paper and put stupid icons/clip art on my resume to make it “stand out”. I can’t imagine it made me stand out in a good way (they forced us to send these out as homework), and it’s worthless advice when people aren’t literally flipping through paper resumes anymore.

      My parents also kept insisting I do things like this, and refusing to believe me when I said that it could only hurt my chances.

      1. dunstvangeet

        Also, that brightly colored paper that looks good now may not look as good when they photocopy that resume 5 times to distribute to the hiring team.

        1. CynicallySweet

          +100. We once got a resume that was on black paper with white ink. It was actually pretty good, but the guy didn’t stand a chance b/c at the time we still had paper files and copying it would have blown through our toner. Plus you couldn’t take notes on the sheet – which was apparently an AFFRONT to one of the interviewers

  9. Don't send live animals

    Many years ago, someone sent a live male betta fish in a glass fishbowl to the museum where I worked as part of their application. “Tired of fishing for the right candidate?” The fish was purple and hot pink and there were matching purple and pink ribbons tied around the collar of the bowl. I remember the receptionist had to spend the day figuring out where to buy fish food, how to care for it, how to clean the bowl, etc. The next morning we came in and there was water all over the carpet in the reception area. The cleaning crew had moved the bowl to clean the Barcelona table it was on and when they set it back down, the fishbowl cracked. (Thankfully, the table wasn’t damaged and the fish survived.) I remember the fish being around for about a week; I wonder what happened to it. The candidate, as far as I know, was not brought in for an interview.

    1. Legal Rugby

      oh, i cant imagine this. I was mad when my admin agreed to host a beta fish from the biology department because of the amount of time she (and our work studies) spend discussing it. It’s also a pain when she expects us to care as much about the research fish as we do our own pets at home, or wants to know if we want to take it home over the weekend. I had to have a conversation with her about the difference between the research fish, and our pets, and the fact this is not a 2nd grade classroom.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      I’m relieved the fish was at least cared for. Many would just sigh and flush the creature. I’m too starry eyed and choose to believe that fish was re-homed and lived happily ever after having gone missing within a week.

      1. Don't send live animals

        Yes, it was cared for! We had a museum-wide naming contest for it. I also remember the receptionist having chopsticks to put in the water for the fish to chase around for “exercise.” And the bowl was cleaned at least once because it was in the bathroom, but had to have something between it and the mirror. Male bettas are very aggressive, so if it saw its reflection in the mirror it would have tried to attack it and maybe run into the side of the bowl. I’m guessing it was discretely re-homed to a staff member.

        I suppose the gimmick worked in a way because that was a good 16 years ago and I still remember a lot of the details clearly!

    3. YouGottaThrowtheWholeJobAway

      I feel this applies not only to the working world but all of life. Never surprise anyone with a live animal they were not expecting and explicitly interested in receiving at that time. BUT ESPECIALLY IN PROFESSIONAL LIFE. Can you imagine if it had died in transit?

    4. Zennish

      Obviously, the candidate just didn’t stand out enough. They should have sent a box of kittens instead, with a note that said “I’m not kitten around, hire me!” I heard somewhere from somebody that this works every time….

      1. Zennish

        And yes, I’m kidding, it’s a horrifying idea. Please don’t send me hate comments… or kittens.

      2. Jadelyn

        This is the one exception – please do feel free to send me kittens. It can only improve my workday.

    5. LizM

      I’m trying to imagine how mad I’d be if someone sent me a live animal out of the blue.

      At a minimum, I’d seriously question their judgment and they would not get an interview. Either they don’t care about how a living creature is treated (because how can you guarantee that the person receiving it will actually feed it, clean it’s cage, etc.) and/or you have no regard for my time, because now you’ve added an additional chore to my day in terms of caring for the animal.

      1. Don't send live animals

        Exactly! It added a bunch of work for the receptionist, not to mention clearly distracted a large portion of the staff who went to go see it, voted on a name, etc. The museum was in the downtown of a major city so it wasn’t like there was a pet shop that was easy to get to. It was for a special events position so there’s also the issue of the candidate thinking it was disposable — like a party favor or a unique centerpiece or something.

        At the time, I remembered wondering if they were applying to several positions how expensive it must have been if they sent fish to all of them. (I was entry level, not making much money so the thought of paying for something like that seemed really extravagant to me.) It’s not like you could drop it in the mail; it had to be hand delivered. The fish bowl was not small either, it was about the size of a volley ball (spherical, not flat on the sides) and thick glass. Plus the rocks in the bottom, the exotic fish, and the fancy ribbons!

        1. Kivrin

          My grandmother attended a wedding where the bride had seen this neat idea to have goldfish swimming around between the stems in clear vases for the centerpieces of the tables. Whoever created this idea did not have in mind a July outdoor wedding in Sacramento. Luckily for the bride, some of her friends who got to the reception early removed all the dead goldfish floating in the vases before most of the guests got there.

      2. the gold digger

        When my husband’s mother sent us a potted Meyer lemon tree, which required eight hours of sun a day and a temperature no lower than 68 degrees, which really doesn’t work in a 90-year old house in the upper Midwest, I got really cranky.

        “She might as well have given us a puppy!” I snapped to my husband.

  10. Krabby

    We had a candidate send his application through snail mail, and it included a fidget spinner with his name professionally etched on it. Our website and job listings all clearly state that it is against company policy to accept job applications that come in from anywhere but our website, plus we are tech company that focuses on transitioning people off of paper communications. I had to shred his application without looking at it. That poor guy spent a ton of money on a cool toy and a funny story for our head of Engineering.

    I also had someone send their application with a beautiful pot of orchids. After putting them in our kitchen so they wouldn’t go to waste (because again, immediate shredder for snail mail applications), I realized I was allergic to the flowers after hives started springing up all over my arms.

    Gimmicks DO NOT work.

    1. Kathleen_A

      That’s interesting that you’re allergic to orchids because (or so I’m told by my sister, who is married to a guy who is wonderful in every way except that he’s pretty much allergic to The Entire Outdoors) orchids are usually the only flowers that people who are allergic to flowers can tolerate. The reason is, they don’t shoot their pollen into the air. You can certainly have a reaction from touching their little pollen producer-thingies, though.

      Nobody’s ever sent me chocolates or flowers, but I have received multi-page (and by “multi,” I mean 7-10 pages) resumes, and at least one of these multi-page resumes was printed on fancy paper with a gigantic pink-rose header. It was ridiculous. It looked like the sort of paper used for letters that start, “My own dearest love -“

      1. Pippa

        I once encountered an academic resume that was 30 (THIRTY) pages. Even by our standards, that’s ridiculous. But at least it was printed on ordinary paper!

        1. Kathleen_A

          Thirty pages is…well, it’s just so clueless. But yeah, at least it didn’t look as though it was an inordinately long love-letter. What we have here are two different kinds of cluelessness, I think.

          1. delta cat

            I’ve been told that in some academic fields, very long is normal; so 30 pages would be a bit much but not outrageous if publications are listed. I work in a masters-level profession where doctorates are rare. I tend to side-eye anything more than two pages, three tops, but I’ve seen what comes in for the department where everyone has a Ph,D. and … woof. I get tired just looking at them.

            1. Fishsticks

              I used to help doctors with their resumes and they routinely went over 50-60 pages for the more senior doctors since it was also a medical school and they listed every presentation, publication and event they’ve ever spoken at.

      2. Jadelyn

        The current record-holder in my office is 11 pages. I shudder to imagine the day that record gets broken.

      3. Krabby

        That’s really interesting! I didn’t know that. I have a ton of weird allergies, and it was in an awkward bag thing inside a pot so I had to touch the flower a lot more than I normally would, so that could have been it.

    2. PB

      Argh, why do people act like flowers are hypoallergenic? If you want to annoy me, put flowers near me.

  11. Dz

    I remember a story about a female journalist who spent the last of her money fedexing her resume to a bunch of people at a broadcasting company, and successfully got the job with her gumption. But that had to have been like 30+ years ago. I wish I could remember who it was. Anyway, stories like these are still circulating, giving people the wrong idea about how to get hired.

    1. Observer

      Well, fed-exing your resume in the days of predominantly physical resumes made some sense. Personal gifts to the hiring manager? Nope.

      1. Dz

        Well, there was a level of gimmickry as well, because IIRC she sent it to like, everyone in the company.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Journalism is it’s own beast as well. I can see this going over if you want to be the quirky on-air personality at some medium media market.

      Everyone has the “I came here with $25 in my pocket and built an empire!!” story out there though. Such spin. And it’s sad when people use it as an idea to try out themselves. Doh.

      1. Gazebo Slayer

        Survivorship bias. We hear about the few people who succeeded doing things like this; we don’t hear about the many who failed.

    3. Akcipitrokulo

      When I was first jobsearching, I went around handing out physical CVs and applications. That was when the school was proud of having its own sinclair spectrum.

    4. GreyjoyGardens

      Gumption did work, to an extent, back in the day before everything was on line, and it was more expensive and troublesome to place an ad (which had to be paid for) and sort through paper resumes. Then, it could be a real boon to have the right person walk in or send their resume unsolicited.

      But times have changed and gumption doesn’t work anymore. You apply for what’s posted in the manner requested, no gimmicks.

      1. Dz

        I’m a woman, and this story is about a woman trying to break into a male-dominated field (thus her gender is relevant), and I was hoping my description would help someone remember specifically which famous female journalist I was talking about. But you can needlessly police my feminist creds if you want.

  12. Legal Rugby

    I live in a town where connections are still the name of the game for most hiring positions. I was getting a graduate assistant for the next year, and we try to conduct the process as much like hiring as possible because for a lot of the students at that school, GA positions were the first time they had had a job.

    One of the four students I invited to a in person interview was related to the secretary of the CEO of a local trucking company that I’ve since come to find out is a big deal around here. He called me (before the interview) to tell me that if I could do him a favor and take care of his secretary’s kid, he would drop off some t-shirts and coozies. I almost eliminated her then, just because it frustrated and annoyed me (I’m from out of town, and most of my collegues thought this was normal/acceptable).

    I ended up hiring the kid because she blew the other three out of the water in person. Turns out she hadn’t known her mom had done that; she had a learning disability that affected her reading/writing skills and her mom just assumed she was incapable of taking care of herself or holding down a real job – however, she was a whiz with numbers and excel, and very open to feedback. I had her for two years, and we worked on interviewing skills, writing skills, and how to leave your mom in the dark about your job interviews.

    Also, we never got the tshirts or the coozies!~

    1. Elizabeth West

      Yay for her, and OMG I hope she managed to set some boundaries with her mum. That’s Marie Barone-level interference right there.

    2. Falling Diphthong

      That’s an incredibly low standard for bribery. Who the heck is so short on T-shirts that they would consider the opportunity to own a genuine trucking company T as an irresistible incentive?

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Wtf marketing material used as bribery angers me on so many levels. That’s just a cruddy advertising/sales pitch cloaked in a plea for favoritism.

      I’ll glad that she got the job on her own merits and was given more tools to continue to slay on her own without the fail-boat do gooders in her life.

        1. Krabby

          Lol, this so reminds me of Mission to Zyxx (podcast). It’s literally a running joke that all there is to give away as swag is koozies.

          Side note, someone in my office’s marketing team suggested koozies a few years ago. Our CEO shut him down before he could follow through. Then he got fired the next year for ordering 1,000 of those bouncy-ball-connected-to-a-ping-pong-paddle-with-string games, branded with our logo, without approval. We couldn’t even give them away as a joke because the string connecting the ball to the boards was too fragile and would snap as soon as you tried to play. The “No Gimmicks” rule goes both ways, haha.

    4. GreyjoyGardens

      That poor kid – I’m glad it was a happy ending for her. And who is so craving of company swag that this can be used as a bribe?!

    5. Observer

      Poor kid! Having your mother SO sure that you are too incompetent to hold down a job must be incredibly demoralizing!

  13. The elephant in the room

    Something that stuck out to me in one of these letters was the fact that Forbes recommended the chocolate. I’d have thought they would know better….

    1. Clay on my apron

      And that’s why I would give some of these candidates the benefit of the doubt. They’re not thinking this idiocy up on their own.

      This type of thing is really uncommon in my part of the world. I’ve only seen it done once. My dreadful ex-boss, who had little sense of professional norms, posted a pic on social media of the pizza that had been delivered to their office with the sender’s CV/résumé attached. She was thrilled – he made a great impression. So it works. On certain types of people.

    2. Jadelyn

      Forbes? …oh no, I bet it was that one woman. Liz something? She writes the most ridiculously out-of-touch articles advising applicants to do all kinds of stupid crap, like “pain letters” and what have you. And she always presents herself as the Grand High Vizier Authority on All Things HR, but I have yet to meet a single other HR person who doesn’t actively roll their eyes at the mention of her name, if they recognize it at all. I occasionally hate-read her articles…

  14. Naomi

    Borderline case: gimmicks that are related to the candidate’s work?

    Recently there was a post on LinkedIn praising a guy who made an “augmented reality” version of his resume. (The LinkedIn post showed basically an animated video; I’m not sure if what he sent to employers was more interactive.) On the one hand, he was applying for AR jobs, so this was arguably a work sample. On the other hand, it’s much less convenient to read than a nice boring PDF, and if you send both resumes, the AR one seems extraneous.

    If he had put equal effort into making a different AR demo and included a link to it on his (standard format) resume, I’d think that was fine. But that’s not the sort of thing that gets you trending on LinkedIn.

    1. Autumnheart

      I think portfolios are different than, say, sending someone a Google Cardboard and a chip with their resume on it. A portfolio is intended to display your skills, and typically there’s a link to a (normal!) resume that can be downloaded. If someone sent a CD of their portfolio in lieu of their resume, that’d be Danger Level: Gumption.

  15. Ankle Grooni

    I recently saw something on Pinterest that had tips to getting an interview. It said something along the lines of cold calling the company you apply to and say that you are replying to their message about scheduling an interview. Basically, you try to bamboozle your way into an interview and hope no one figures it out.

    How, in heaven’s way does anyone think this will work?

    I didn’t click on the rest of the link because I didn’t want to keep getting horrible job hunting advice showing up on my news feed but I was so tempted just to see what other horrible words of wisdom were being passed down.

    1. Czhorat

      Yes. You’re calling about the interview. For the non-existent job opening that exactly fits your experience. Which they’ll assume they’d forgotten about.

      Any organization sufficiently institutionally scatter-brained to fall for this is not one for which I’d want to work.

      1. Naomi

        Yeah, even if this works it’s a red flag that the organization has no idea who they invited for an interview!

      2. Blunder of Fate

        I got a job that way – but accidentally. I was new to the city and had given my resume to the local chapter of my professional organization, which had a system of distributing them to firms that were hiring. I got a phone message from one of the firms – let’s call them “Smith Group” – wanting to schedule an interview, but the end of the message was cut off so I didn’t have their number (this was in the days before I had caller ID.) I looked in the phone book (yeah it was that long ago) and mistakenly called back “Smith Associates” instead. I said I was returning their call about scheduling an interview time – and they didn’t even seem confused about it, and we scheduled it. The next day the guy from Smith Group called again, and I realized my mistake, and we scheduled an interview there too. Both interviews went well, even though I admitted to Smith Associates what had happened. I got offers from both, and ended up at the accidental one.

        1. Moose

          Ha, what a great how-you-got-the-job story. How did the job end up going? Did they seem disorganized or was it a good place to work?

          1. Blunder of Fate

            It was a good place to work. They weren’t too disorganized – at least not any more than I was! I think maybe the guy I talked to when I called did know it was a case of mistaken identity – he just decided to roll with it and it worked out.

      3. anonymous 5

        It’s like that telemarketing scam where “Steve” or “Rachel” or some other first-name-only caller “calls back about that $250000 small business loan…”

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch

      Curious enough, my boss was impressed by a cold caller and unaware it’s generally unacceptable to call hiring companies about job postings.

      I only heard tale someone called but I was out of my office and they didn’t leave a voicemail. My boss asked in passing since the front desk told him they called and they had forwarded it to me.

    3. Falling Diphthong

      Even Don Draper inserted an actual job interview and a booze-filled lunch in there. (He then showed up the next morning bright and chipper claiming that Roger had offered him the job, confident that Roger had no memory of anything that happened past the appetizers.)

    4. Leela

      I would blacklist this candidate immediately for trying to lie their way into a job. Why would I want to hire someone who opens communication with us by lying? Especially about something traceable?

    5. GreyjoyGardens

      There’s a similar gimmick that I’ve seen touted – pretend to be a friend of the Big Boss so that you can get past the gatekeepers. Lie if you have to!

      No, not going to work on anyone remotely clued in. Also, most bosses rightly look down on candidates who are rude and/or dismissive of their staff.

      1. Tau

        Because obviously when you’re applying for jobs, what you really want is to be mistaken for a scammer using social engineering techniques, right? Which is to say, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s gotten training on fending off this exact tactic in the past.

      2. Gazebo Slayer

        Ah, the old sleazy telemarketer trick of “getting past the gatekeeper.” When I was a receptionist, I took delight in shutting down those kinds of tactics cold.

    1. Rusty Shackelford

      Okay, but you’d have to know when I had eaten the chocolate, because obviously you’d need to keep that little tidbit a secret until then.

      1. Not Maeby But Surely

        That’s why you always leave a note:
        “Please call within 12 hours of eating the chocolate to schedule my interview. I promise it will be worth your time!”

  16. Incantanto

    I don’t know if its common in the US, but we have strict rules on bribery here. Things like chocolates or wine would probably be skirting close to a bribery report being required.

    1. London Calling

      UK here and so do we. Where I work we have to complete an annual conflict of interest register and declare all gifts over £ 100

    2. Kathleen_A

      I think – unless it’s an extraordinary bottle of wine or an even more extraordinary box of chocolates – that these kinds of gifts would fall under the “bribery” threshold at most places, except perhaps government offices. That doesn’t mean they aren’t at least somewhat icky, though, because they definitely are.

      1. Observer

        Government offices or places that have government contracts. I had to go through the training that vendors who want Federal contracts have to go through, and in some cases $20-25 is enough to trigger alerts. They pretty much say that you shouldn’t let anyone get you more than a coffee and donut or pizza.

    3. Rez123

      For us small gifts wouldn’t go under bribery. But sending thank you notes would be considered over the top and a bit too brown nosey. I’ve learned that americans really love thank you notes after events, interviews and gifts. Very hot topic on a wedding site I’m on. I find this very interesting :)

      1. Kathleen_A

        Interesting. I don’t quite understand why a thank-you note could be considered brown-nosey. Certainly you can brown-nose in a thank-you note by gushing about the company or the people who interviewed you. But you certainly don’t have to gush in a thank-you note, and I in fact would say that you shouldn’t. All thank-you notes are not alike.

  17. Willis

    My eyes were reading faster than my brain and I thought that Slate headline referenced someone who “sent a box with a foot in it.” Which would be terrifying, but hey – they’d definitely notice you.

    1. Rob aka Mediancat

      Position Requested: Disemboweller for serial killer and/or hit man.

      Have own surgical knives, axes, and chainsaw.

      Severed limbs available upon request.

    2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      Many moons ago I managed a seasonal tchotchke shop in the local mall, the kind of place that’s only open for three months. Before us, the space had hosted a shoe store. After us, when we were packing up, I hid the left-behind mannequin feet in the boxes of returning-to-the-warehouse merchandise.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood

      Is that Rocket applying? (Guardians of the Galaxy has a bit of shtick where he “needed” a fellow prisoner’s prosthetic leg.)

    4. Little Bobby Tables

      Had a similar idea myself. The first thing that came to mind when I read the shoe story was, “At least she didn’t steal a page from Six Feet Under and include a severed foot in the shoe.”

  18. esra

    Oh bamboo and chocolate applicant. I was sitting near the front of the office when that happened, we didn’t really have a reception area, so she had an audience. I think she may have been trying to make a connection with the plant because we were an environmental nonprofit, but man. It cost her an interview.

  19. Cat wrangler

    It wouldn’t occur to me to send gifts to a potential employer – it’s not the ‘done thing’ in my book and just inviting derision. I haven’t even really worked in industries where external bodies send in gifts apart from the temp agencies gifting branded items on occasions!

  20. Wendy

    I remember reading about a candidate for a marketing position who tracked down their interviewer’s personal instagram and got some of their photos printed on marshmallows. I can’t remember any of the other details but I do remember how creepy I thought it was.

    1. Marthooh

      What? What? What? That would come off as more of a threat than a bribe: “Have a marshmallow… why yes, that is your cat! … I don’t know why you’re upset, though it certainly would be a shame if someone ate Fluffy all up, hmmmm, wouldn’t it?”

    2. Gazebo Slayer

      *creepy cheerful voice* “I’m Marshie! Fluffy Puff Marshmallows! Keep some in your pocket for *spooky noises* SECRET EATING!”

    3. Mephyle

      That is so stalkery. Candidates would make a better impression giving marshmallows printed with their own photos; a sort of delicious* graphic cover letter.
      (*Except, I hate marshmallows.)

  21. Be Positive

    I once received a shot glass (give me a shot) and a plush doll animal slippers (foot in the door) from the same supplier on two separate occasions

    That made me not want to buy from them

    1. I would've loved the shot glass

      Did this supplier sell branded items? Keychains, pens, etc? Of course, it would be more useful if the supplier picked out items you would actually order but that would only make sense.

      1. Shad

        Yeah. I could see *one* sample from a supplier who gives out that kind of punny swag—I still remember the deck of cards emblazoned “don’t gamble with your company’s security” that my dad brought back from a conference years ago.
        But it needs to be just a little more thought out.

  22. VegetableLasagna

    I once got a job application for a retail position that had phrasing in it like “I watch customers LIKE A HAWK” and “I am very skilled with money”.
    I called him in for an interview because I wanted to see if he was that out of touch with reality, or if he maybe had bad advice. Turns out he was waaaaaaaay out of touch with reality, because he casually asked during the interview how much weed I smoked and would I rat him out to the cops. Then he finished the interview by shaking my hand and telling me he could start that week. I told him we wouldn’t be calling him back.

    1. Greg

      Are you sure you didn’t interview Jason from “The Good Place”? Did he drop numerous references to Duvall County and Blake Bortles?

  23. Moose

    I’m a little sad that the person who received a framed headshot of an applicant didn’t make it into this. That is my favorite trying-to-stand-out story.

  24. Old Cynic

    One company I worked for in the early 90s was recruiting for an HR Manager. They hired the candidate who, after her interview, sent a gift basket of muffins from a local bakery.

  25. Alianne

    Some guy has been sending my office his resume every few months for a year. It’s brightly colored, has links to all his social media, and includes a headshot, business cards, and a long personal letter about how he’s had a rough few years but is now ready to work hard and prove himself, and here’s a link to his website and a personal video he’s made to elaborate…just reading the thing is exhausting. If he’s trying to excite sympathy or a feeling of support for his can-do spirit, it didn’t take. He just sounds groveling and overeager.

    (Also, don’t link to your Facebook. Especially not if it’s public and you like to drunk-post about your ex on weekends. Boss apparently got quite the eyeful.)

  26. Vampire Manager

    There is an article floating around LinkedIn that mentions someone creating a custom box a donuts with their resume inside, and pretending to be a Postmates delivery person, dropping them off at various recruiters. Numerous recruiters commented on the thread, saying how much it would stand out and what a great, innovative idea it was. I was so irritated with it.

  27. Grand Mouse

    I missed the thread on the lottery ticket but that would be a huge disqualification for me. I’m personally against it because the odds are so low that you’re wasting your money. If I spend money, I some kind of return on it. So the message of the lotto ticket to me is “I have a very low chance of working out and you’re taking a real gamble on me”

  28. anon with no name because I can't think of one to stick with.....

    The unfortunate thing with a lot of these gimmicks and other gumption tactics is that it’s often parents/teachers pushing it so if you try to refuse there might be trouble from the parents about how you’re not trying hard enough – even when the person is an adult it can be hard to go against what you’re parents are saying when you live with them. Then there’s the career centers that make these kind of suggestions and worse.

    1. That Girl From Quinn's House

      My parents used to tell me to “get off the computer and GO BUY A NEWSPAPER!” to look for jobs. During the recession.

      Sure that’s going to work.

      1. Phil

        Anyone who’s ever played The Sims knows that the newspaper only gives one job per day, and the computer gives three.

  29. Phil

    Well, I mean, at least it wasn’t an actual severed foot they were trying to “get in the door.”

  30. ssssssssssssssssssss

    This kind of attention seeking advice has been around! Years (20+ ago) ago in the Saturday paper, there was a weekly column with job seeking and career advice. I read it regularly and I vividly remember an article praising “out of the box” thinking to catch recruiters’ attention. One Australian brought in a plastic leg because he came to America “chasing a pair of legs.” It reportedly worked. There was the fellow who put his resume on a wine bottle. Reportedly worked.

    I saw a job posting years later for the Lung Association and they wanted a passionate cover letter as to why you wanted to work there. Remembering that article and the plastic leg, I almost tried to find a way to fit my letter into the shape of a pair of lungs. I changed my mind after some thought.

  31. His Girl Thursday

    My company flew in a candidate from another state for an interview, and she brought along a box of chocolates that were from a chocolatier in her home town as a thank you. She asked the receptionist to share them with the team as she was leaving. We had already decided to hire her, so it didn’t sway us one way or another, but we appreciated the gesture!

  32. Jennifer

    We have two grammar snobs in another online community I frequent. People just ignore them or say something snarky back and it has died down a lot. Snark may not be the best way to go at work but ignoring them is a great idea.

    I use phrasing that I know is grammatically incorrect all the time. I change tenses in the middle of the same comment. I end sentences with propositions. I just think it’s weird to speak like the Queen of England in everyday, casual conversation. It doesn’t mean I don’t understand grammar.

  33. suebe has a cat named ZuZu

    Back in the mid-80’s I worked for a company that sold word processors in NYC. I managed the marketing support team, and we had an opening for a new marketing support representative to work with sales to conduct product demonstrations, customer training and account support. I was flooded with paper resumes and was narrowing down the potential candidates for interviews.

    One candidate, who on paper did not possess any close job qualifications, kept sending me his resume with “clever” cover notes. He finally sent a nail taped to a postcard with a note saying something like “please don’t nail the door shut for me” or something along those lines. That was it. I needed to meet this guy.

    Guy comes in and he is drop dead GORGEOUS! Movie star handsome. All the female heads in the office were turning. [Disclosure: I am female/hetero] I was silently laughing because my male manager used to comment on the appearance of each female candidate I interviewed, and he looked like he was about to bust when he saw this guy walk in. We start the interview, and it was a disaster for the candidate, although he didn’t realize it at the time. He spent about 10 minutes badmouthing his current boss and job, lit a cigarette after I did (yeah, I know, it was the 80’s), and leaned back in his chair. He was so snarky I had trouble not laughing. And he thought he was so clever that his silly nail gimmick got him an interview.

    When the interview was over, I walked him out of the office and made sure my manager saw him again. After he left, I told my manager that he was the best candidate ever and I was ready to make him in offer after he spoke with him. I let him simmer over that for a while (we were good friends and had rose up the ranks together) then ‘fessed up and told him the whole story. Great laughs.

    1. suebe has a cat named ZuZu

      I need to add that this was the first and only time I have ever done something like this and I was in my late 20’s at the time. But it was funny.

  34. Greg

    I’ve heard Alison make this point before, but she apparently needs to keep re-upping it because people keep doing stupid crap like this.

    Here’s what bothers me the most: You shouldn’t be relying on gimmicks, period. But you especially shouldn’t be relying on gimmicks that you heard about from someone else. The only thing worse than being schlocky is being schlocky AND unoriginal.

  35. Jessica

    I hope the poor person isn’t a regular reader of yours, but years ago, we had someone who first (!) sent a box with a balloon inside (it had a note attached to the string about why they were a great candidate.) Second (!) I think they sent a plant, or some other weird gift. But the amazing finale was an entire sheet cake with their resume photo printed into the icing. It was amazing. (We were convinced it was poisoned, since the hiring manager hadn’t been responding).

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