BRADENTON — Hoveround's human resources staff will never forget the shiny, red Chinese takeout box a job seeker sent them. • The candidate, who was going after an art director's position, sent the department the box with his resume inside. • It was folded into an origami bird. • "This was obviously a very creative individual," said Sam Porcelli, human resources assistant at Hoveround, a Manatee County manufacturer of power chairs. "He made a great impression on us. While he didn't get the job, because we interviewed someone earlier that day we fell in love with, we will not forget this guy. The impression was significant."
In today's job market, job seekers are doing whatever it takes to grab employers' attention.
"The search for employment is taking longer, and it is more competitive than it has been in past years," said Jason Ferrara, senior career adviser for online employment agency Career Builder. "To compensate, some candidates have turned to extreme tactics."
A survey by careerbuilder.com reported 18 percent of hiring managers are seeing more job seekers try unusual tactics to capture their attention this year compared with last year. The survey polled 2,543 hiring managers and human resource professionals. A few unusual practices included a candidate sending a resume as a wrapped present, one job seeker sending a cake designed as a business card and a candidate who handed out personalized coffee cups.
In response to Hoveround's advertised art director position that was filled in May, Porcelli said another candidate shipped a framed example of an artwork she created for a corporate client.
Her resume was taped to the back of the frame.
Differentiate yourself with creative tactics
Porcelli said creativity done in good taste can go a long way to get job seekers noticed.
"If you're going to differentiate yourself, you almost have to see more people who do things like that," Porcelli said. "Frankly, it indicates a level of creativity and awareness that you know by far puts them ahead of the pack. They'll at least get seen."
And it's not just more creativity employers are seeing.
Several local employers say candidates are simply adding more information about themselves in resumes, doing more research on companies and being more formal in how they deliver their resumes.
"I have seen some professional-level people that will reference their Web site," said Melissa Bowen, human resources manager at Dentsply International, a manufacturer of dental products and instruments.
The Web sites Bowen has seen include resumes, bios and portfolios of work.
"If the person's qualified, that catches my attention and I'll take the time to peruse their site," Bowen said.
For candidates who land an interview, Bowen researches the candidate to ask more specific questions about his or her work history and goals for Dentsply.
"It enables me to dig deeper into a candidate," Bowen said.
Ryan Moore, chief executive officer of Moore Employer Solutions, an employee leasing firm in Bradenton, said some candidates attach professional headshots to their resumes.
"I've seen a lot of photographs, which I hadn't seen before," Moore said. "It seems they're trying to put a face with a resume, which is kind of unique."
Sally Hill, spokeswoman for the Suncoast Workforce Board, said more job seekers seem to be doing their homework these days when applying for positions.
"We're finding that candidates are conducting research about companies before they apply and incorporate information that's current and relevant in their cover letter," Hill said. "In addition, they're using key words about the open positions. In general that is a good way to get the employers' attention and focus on the job requirements."
Every little bit helps today's job seekers
Every little bit helps job seekers at this point. The U.S. Labor Department reported 601,000 people filed initial jobless claims for the week ending June 6.
Lisa Krouse, vice president of human resources for FCCI Insurance in Lakewood Ranch east of Sarasota, said she has noticed more people volunteering as a way to network.
"I see a lot more volunteerism so that networking is leveraged while at the same time they continue to hone their skills and are contributing to the community," Krouse said. "It's a creative way to look for opportunities for jobs."
Bob Beck, president of Staffing Professionals in Lakewood Ranch, heard of a candidate sending a shoe to an employer with a note that said, "Hoping to get my foot in the door."
But Beck said creativity is not the only approach job candidates need. Sometimes it's just a matter of exuding enthusiasm and professionalism when meeting or speaking with employers.
"If they make an effort to actually stop at the office with their resume and show an interest, we remember those individuals," Beck said. "And, in fact, in some cases we may put them ahead of someone else who may have had equal skills because they took the extra initiative."