We sometimes do crazy things to get jobs/get into schools in this market. I once took the train 40 minutes out of my way to help a lost Boston University admissions rep get to her destination. But that wasn’t nearly as crazy as some of these attempts:
1. Being brutally honest
This applicant sent an extremely blunt cover letter to an unnamed Wall Street bank, which included clutch quotes that I think we’ve all been tempted to include, such as:
— “The truth is I have no unbelievably special skills or genius eccentricities”
— “I am aware it is highly unusual for undergraduates from average universities like [redacted] to intern at [redacted], but nevertheless I was hoping you might make an exception.”
He got multiple offers.
2. Bringing the boss a new chair
This bold individual arrived in an office, armed with a red chair. He brought it straight to the top manager on the floor (not the HR person), put it down and said, “I brought a chair, you can have it, you’ll never see me sitting in it.” Then he left and was offered the job a few days later.
3. Writing witty (and bizarre) cover letters
After months of rejections and continued unemployment, Joey Comeau starting writing witty cover letters to dozens of companies. My favorite is a ridiculous story about trying to discover his neighbor’s Life Insurance Verification that periodically pauses to list his hirable qualities.
— Example: (After difficulty finding the information) “I came to realize how I would proceed. I began sleeping with him. JOB SKILL: I AM DEDICATED TO MY WORK”
He achieved minor internet fame and got a collection of the cover letters published into a book, Overqualified, available at Amazon. He may not have gotten any of the jobs, but he did create his own.
4. Listing unique and/or nonexistent strengths
This guy has a winning cover letter, enumerating his various strengths, such as:
— “Pinpoint accuracy: I killed a hawk once with a ninja star”
— “I got your address from google, because my internet research skills are the shit.”
I’m starting my own company right now and fully intend to hire this person, whoever he is.
5. Naming your price
This Atlanta resident lists, in creative detail, the various things he would do at different price points. My favorites:
— (Under “Things I Will do for $100”) “Tell your children which one is actually your favorite, and what the others could do to improve their standings.”
— (Under “Things I Will do for $100,000”) “Yell your name every time I wake up for the rest of my life.”
The low-hanging fruit conclusion from these outrageous applications is that it pays to be bold and unusual. I’d amend that slightly by adding that it pays to be bold, unusual, creative, and good at it. I’ve heard other examples of people trying to be blunt or honest on cover letters and it generally just sounds either desperate or aggressive, and doesn’t work. If nothing else, these kinds of applications are entertaining for the rest of us. So please, share your best stories in the comments section!