If you want a creative job in a competitive industry, sometimes the traditional resume and cover letter combo just doesn't cut it.
To get the attention of a hiring manager at a top agency, you'll need something that highlights your assets, proves your intense interest in the agency, and differentiates you from a crowd of people trying to do the exact same thing -- all without seeming too over-the-top, gimmicky, or creepy.
No sweat, right?
For your inspiration and amusement, we've put together a list of seven creative approaches used by real job seekers in the marketing and advertising industries. While flashy stunts alone aren't likely to land you the job, they just might help you get your foot in the door. Check out the marketing stunts below.
7 Creative Stunts People Used to Land Their Marketing Dream Jobs
1. Creating a Video Resume
Video resumes aren't new, but they're still fairly rare in the job-seeking world. But, back in 2012, this strategy was even more unique and non-traditional. At this point, one European created a detailed and well-edited video resume which listed all of his qualifications, skills, accomplishments and out-of-office hobbies.
Aside from just adapting a resume bullets into video form, the candidate also added a touch of humor, such as videos of him working out at the gym, and edits embellishing some of his skills.
This candidate nicely highlights all of the key factors that make him unique in a short and sweet video. Not only is the content fun to watch, but it also teaches you nearly everything you need to know about the man.
Another great takeaway is that this man identified a new and unique way to present himself and his creative background. Sometimes, it's beneficial to consider a less-traditional application strategy that will present you in a better way than a standard cover letter or CV.
2. Giving Out Candy Bar Resumes
Applying for a job can feel more sour than sweet, but according to one Redditor, you can actually leverage delicious candy to get a job.
In 2013, a Reddit user who goes by elilanger posted a photo of a candy bar that his friend Nick gave to a company he was interviewing with. When the interviewer looked at the back of the candy bar, the health and nutrition facts were actually replaced by the candidate's skills and experience. According to the Reddit thread, Nick got the job because of the creative candy bar resume.
Image Credit: Reddit
This candy bar resume a creative way to subtly add a very memorable touch of extra effort to a job application or interview experience. A hiring manager might find it funny, delicious, and creative and it will be hard for them to forget you as they're making their decision.
3. Making a Lego Ad
To get attention from an ad agency she was applying to, an Imgur user who goes by Pastlightspeed made a LEGO version of herself and a series of LEGO-themed ads that showcased her skills and experience. For example, one ad noted how many pieces her lego character had, as well as her actual educational background.
Image Credit: Imgur
Then, another ad showed the LEGO doll and gave brief details about her as it would about any other LEGO character.
Image Credit: Imgur
According to the Imgur user, her creative advertisement-based resume earned her a job at an agency.
In this example, the candidate created content that a company, like an advertising agency would want to see when making a hiring decision. Rather than waiting for the company to ask her for her portfolio, this candidate made an ad to demonstrate her design and copy skills, as well as her creativity.
4. Auctioning Yourself on eBay
In 2011, a UK job-seeker named Josh Butler posted an eBay listing with his resume in the product description area, his expected salary where the price is usually shown, and notes about how he planned to work hard for the company that hired him. The listing was simply titled, "JOSH BUTLER WANTS A JOB."
According to Butler, the listing actually resulted in a number of job interviews.
While this stunt took place over eight years ago, you can still take a note from the candidate by similarly finding creative ways to leverage today's more prominent online platforms for your own job search.
5. Writing a Cover Letter Rap
Writing a cover letter can feel daunting, tricky, and even dull. But, when one job applicant named Chase Zreet applied for a copy writer position at Sprite, he wrote a rap and created a rap video in place of a cover letter.
With lyrics like, "Can I -- Can I write for Sprite? My lines are nice and my scripts are tight," Zreet shows off his creativity, love of Sprite, and copywriting skills directly related to the brand he's applying to work for.
Because Zreet raps about how he's followed Sprite, his skills, and his accomplishments, he smoothly answers all of the questions that the average cover letter would but in a much more memorable way.
If you're applying for a job in a creative field, odds are that your hiring manager might be looking for memorable application assets that show off your creative range. Brainstorming unique content like this could demonstrate how tactical and creative you are while making you stand out in the job application pool.
6. Posing as the "Fearless Girl" Statue
Recently, State Street embraced female entrepreneurs by placing a statue of a brave girl and positioning it so it stared in the eyes of Wall Street's bull statue. This represented female empowerment in a field once dominated by men. The statue was titled "Fearless Girl."
The "Fearless Girl" statue was not only motivational, but it also inspired a successful stunt from one female job candidate. The candidate painted herself gold, wore a gold dress, and was photographed staring up at the McCann Bristol offices.
She then posted the images as well as a description of why she wanted to work at the company on social media. These posts got attention, and retweets, from the company, which ultimately hired her.
Here's a Twitter post where McCann gushes about how the woman was one of their best applicants:
Is this the best job application ever? Adorned in gold, fearless advertising graduate Jade Delaney recreates #FearlessGirl outside our offices #FearlessBristolGirl @McCann_WW @Campaignmag pic.twitter.com/11HW5lCFGl— McCann Bristol (@McCann_Bristol) May 9, 2018
7. Pretending to be a Prospective Client
August Laustsen, a young art director from Denmark seeking an agency gig in Sweden, was having difficulty landing an interview. Despite sending his resume to all the big agencies in Stockholm, he couldn't seem to even get a call back. Instead of throwing in the towel, Lausten devised a sneaky and brilliant way to get some agency attention.
"The thing is, when you’re looking for a job in another country, it's impossible to get through if you don't have any connections," Lausten said to Adweek. "None of the CDs [creative directors] knew me, or any of the work that I had done, so I knew I had to take it a step further to get their attention."
Lausten contacted a number of Swedish agencies pretending to be the marketing director of a firm looking to hire a new agency. He called his fictional firm EMERIH (Yep, that's "Hire Me" spelled backwards), and set up a website revealing his true intentions as a job seeker.
8. Brewing a Custom Beer Resume
If there was ever a foolproof formula for ensuring your resume doesn't end up at the bottom of the pile, it's probably this:
Resume + Beer = "Resum-ale"
Looking to start his job search off with something memorable (and tasty), graphic designer Brennan Gleason decided to brew up a custom beer and design the packaging himself. Each bottle in the four-pack was printed with a portion of his resume, as well as a QR-code to view his full resume online.
"As I was nearing the end of University, the time approached where I needed to start getting my name out there," Gleason wrote on Behance. "I wanted a resume that would both show off my work, but more importantly who I was and what I loved. I brewed up a nice Blonde Ale, and while that was fermenting I set out to create a packaging design that would reflect my personal identity."
Image Credit: Brennan Gleason
9. Personally Delivering Donuts
When 25-year-old Lithuanian marketer Lukas Yla moved to San Francisco, he knew he'd have to do something unconventional to break into the extremely competitive marketing and tech scene.
His solution? Dress up as a Postmates delivery courier to personally deliver donuts to the companies he admired -- with his resume attached, of course. In October 2016, Yla made over 40 donut deliveries across the Bay Area, dropping off treat-filled boxes emblazoned with some catchy copy: "Most resumes end up in the trash. Mine -- in your belly."
Yla admits the sugary stunt was "a bit odd," but it ended up earning Yla some much-deserved viral attention. More importantly, the move scored Yla multiple interviews (although according to his LinkedIn he's still on the search for the perfect marketing gig).
Image via Adweek
10. Buying a Billboard
After Pasha Stocking was laid off from her job as a marketing and sales director in Connecticut back in 2009, she took all the usual steps to find a new job: sending resumes to prospective employers, going to job fairs, and even registering with temp agencies. After toughing it out in a harsh job market for eight months without any big leads, she knew it was time for something big.
Stocking took $2000 out of her savings and purchased a massive billboard overlooking a busy highway in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She kept everything straightforward and uncomplicated: just a picture of herself, a link to her website, and copy that plainly spelled out her ultimate objective -- "HIRE ME!"
While the billboard didn't end up getting Stocking any offers she seriously considered, it did lead her to start her own print advertising company, specializing in -- you guessed it -- billboards.
Image Credit: The New York Times
11. Hacking an Agency's File-Sharing System to Deliver a Resume
As the Chief Creative Officer at 72andSunny, Glenn Cole has witnessed his fair share of stunts from eager agency job seekers. But what has really stood out to him over the years?
"I've had a couple of people hack personal accounts to get my attention, which I find really clever," Cold told Fast Company. In one instance, a prospective candidate hacked the agency's internal file-sharing service and sent an email containing their resume to every creative director at 72andSunny. The email appeared to be sent from Cole himself.
While the bid for attention impressed Cole, the candidate ultimately wasn't offered a job (although Cole says they're still on the agency's radar for future positions).
Disclaimer: We don't recommend hacking a prospective employer to get attention.
12. Writing a "Hire Me" Song
With a Marketing degree from Bentley University and several unpaid internships under his belt, Alec Biedrzycki still wasn't getting job offers in his field. So he picked up his guitar and wrote a song about it.
"Hire Me" is a three-minute music video Biedrzycki created back in 2009 to use in place of a traditional resume and cover letter. While alternative video resumes are more common today, they were still relatively unheard of when he started sending his song out to employers.
Did the video really help Biedrzycki break into the industry? "I ... was jobless and discouraged post-graduation due to the 2008 market crash," Biedrzycki said. "My career didn't really start until I launched this [video] in 2009. Connections were made, interviews were set up and I eventually landed a job at an agency later that year. Launching this made me feel like I could pursue a career in marketing, even if the odds were against me."
Today, Biedrzycki is a Principal Tech Partner Marketing Manager at HubSpot.
13. Buying Google Ads for Advertising Executives' Names
When Alec Brownstein was searching for a new job in 2010, he stumbled upon an unlikely opportunity for self-promotion.
"I was doing a little bit of research on who I wanted to work for, and of course I was using Google, and I noticed when I Googled their names, that there were no sponsored links at the top, no ads there," Brownstein said to CBS News. "And as someone who Googles myself sort of embarrassingly frequently, I realized if someone were to put someone at the top of my result, I would notice it."
So Brownstein went ahead and purchased the top result for "Ian Reichenthal," a creative director at Young and Rubicam. It cost him 15 cents.
Sure enough, Reichenthal saw the ad after Googling himself, called Brownstein, and ended up hiring him.
Tips for a Memorable Job Application
The main goal of any job application, cover letter, or hiring-related asset is to standout from the competition. Regardless of what you submit to a hiring manager, make sure it's both appropriate for the job you're applying for and extremely memorable.
Want to learn more about creating a memorable job application? Here from a person who landed their dream job in this post.
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in April of 2017, but was updated in November 2019 for comprehensiveness.