A reader writes:
I have applied for a job I would love to have. In attempts to stand out to the hiring manager, I sent my resume in with two bars of chocolate, a dark chocolate and a milk chocolate. I had read a Forbes article on creative ways to get a job interview, and one of the suggestions was to send chocolate (another I was toying with was to send your resume in a bottle, like a “message in a bottle”). Plus, I know the person is a woman and there is only a small percentage of women whom would not appreciate a bar, or two, of chocolate after lunch.
The next Monday, I sent HR my resume and cover letter, not mentioning the chocolate. That was three weeks ago. The job posting expired a week ago. I have tried calling HR, but I have yet to get ahold of anyone. Is my only option to sit and wait?
Yeah, although I would actually assume you’re not getting called and move on. That’s my advice with every job application, but it’s especially true here.
Forbes, I’m sorry to say, steered you wrong. Or rather, their columnist did. They might as well have told you to send a suspicious looking powder with your application.
Gimmicks like these hurt, not help, your chances. After all, think about it from the hiring manager’s perspective: This kind of thing makes it look like you don’t think you can stand on your qualifications and merit, like you don’t understand normal professional boundaries, and like you think you can bribe your way into a job. And it comes across as … well, a little cheesy.
What’s more, let’s say that you find the rare company who responds to gimmicks (turning off all the rest in the process). Guess what happens when you screen for that sort of employer? It doesn’t stop at the job offer — you’ll be working for someone who can’t separate flash from merit, which really sucks when it comes to raises, promotions, and assignments. Do you really want to work somewhere where those things go to whoever is the flashiest or schmoozes the most with the boss, rather than to the people who have earned them?
Look, I get that you want to stand out amid a sea of other candidates. But the way you do that is by (a) being a highly qualified candidate, (b) writing a great cover letter and having a strong resume, and (c) being friendly, responsive, thoughtful, and enthusiastic. In other words, the path to standing out doesn’t run through the Hershey’s counter.
(Your experience, by the way, is why I get so pissed off about self-proclaimed “career experts” giving out crappy advice like this. They’re directly harming people’s careers and ability to make a living, and it’s BS.)
Also: In general, it’s a good idea not to assume things about people based on what sex they are.