13.9 million Americans are currently looking for work, according to BLS statistics. It goes without saying, then, that making a positive impression with potential employers is of utmost importance to job seekers. Despite good intentions, however, the reality of these efforts sometimes falls short of the goal. While it’s clear that many of us have made a résumé mistake at one time or another in our job-searching experiences, as well as a few blunders during the interview itself — some mistakes are more, ah, memorable than others. Then again, some of them may not turn out to be mistakes at all. Let’s weigh in on results from a just-released CareerBuilder study of more than 2,600 employers nationwide — revealing the most unusual résumés they’ve seen seeing.
Resume reviews: Faster than you (should) brush your teeth
Turns out that nearly half (45 percent) of human resource managers said they spend, on average, less than one minute reviewing an application. Less than one single minute! While this comes as n surprise to those with the responsibility of hiring, it is quite the shock for many job seekers who think you’re spending hours poring over the intricate résumé details they worked so hard to perfect.
Not to fear, however: In that less than one minute’s time, human resource managers can retain quite a lot of the absurdities that come across their desk. When asked to recall the most memorable or unusual résumés they’ve gotten, human resource managers and hiring managers shared the following gems.
Employers’ 15 most memorable résumés:
1. Candidate said the more you paid him, the harder he worked.
2. Candidate was fired from different jobs, but included each one as a reference.
3. Candidate said he just wanted an opportunity to show off his new tie.
4. Candidate listed her dog as a reference.
5. Candidate listed the ability to do the moonwalk as a special skill.
6. Candidates – a husband and wife looking to job share –submitted a co-written poem.
7. Candidate included “versatile toes” as a selling point.
8. Candidate said that he would be a “good asset to the company,” but failed to include the “et” in the word “asset.”
9. Candidate’s email address on the resume had “shakinmybootie” in it.
10. Candidate included that she survived a bite from a deadly aquatic animal.
11. Candidate used first name only.
12. Candidate asked, “Would you pass up an opportunity to hire someone like this? I think not.”
13. Candidate insisted that the company pay him to interview with them because his time was valuable.
14. Candidate shipped a lemon with résumé, stating “I am not a lemon.”
15. Candidate included that he was arrested for assaulting his previous boss.
To hire — or to run?
Let’s keep in mind that while unusual résumés may be something some hiring managers guffaw over or use to perfect their free throw shot, smart recruiters and employers know that strange can sometimes lead to a successful employee. Don’t be so quick to write off a candidate who, upon further inspection, may simply be thinking outside of the normal résumé confines.
For example, maybe the candidate who included first name only was just being particularly cautious about his or her employer finding out that one of their star employees was job hunting. And the candidate who survived a bit from a deadly aquatic animal? He or she could have a fantastic sense of adventure and survivor instinct that may play well with your company culture. The candidate who wanted to show off his tie may simply have been making a genuine attempt to get your attention with humor. And the candidate who sent a lemon with the “I am not a lemon” wordplay? Clever, memorable — and probably someone you want to give a second look. In today’s extremely competitive hiring environment, a candidate who is willing to take a risk and be creative may be someone who will make the right risks at your company, brainstorm creative solutions to your business challenges, and be a huge asset to your bottom line.
That candidate who does a great moonwalk, though? While an impressive feat, to be sure, likely not one that will do much for your business (unless you are in the dance business, in which case I retract my hasty statement).*
*Also see: Candidate had shakinmybootie in email address.
And obviously, examples like No. 15 are a more serious matter altogether.
When trying to decide whether a résumé is unforgettable — or simply one you want to forget — consider the following factors:
- Is it relevant to the job?
- Is it clear and coherent?
- Is it smartly executed?
If your answers are “yes,” you should strongly reconsider tossing what some would consider a brilliant business move into the trash. Wouldn’t you rather a candidate work to get your attention, rather than blast out the same boring résumé to you and a dozen others? And hey, it’s not as if these candidates are lying to you on their résumé; if anything, they’re guilty of revealing too much.
Creativity solely for the sake of creativity isn’t always a winner, but if that creativity cleverly touches upon your company or open position, or a candidate’s skills in relation to the position at hand, you might not have such a lemon on your hands, after all.
As Rosemary Haefner (@haefner_r), vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder, points out: “In a crowded job market, a stand-out résumé can be the difference between getting the interview and being lost in the pile. But job seekers need to ask themselves if they’re standing out for the right reasons.”
So tell us — what’s the most unusual résumé or job tactic you’ve come across? Was it worth giving the candidate a second look?