No Rules, Just Write

 resume tshirt

This summer, my in-box almost crashed after I advertised an HR position.


Never again, I resolved, would I slog through such a deluge. I quickly implemented several application tracking systems (ATS) to help manage the resume flow.  When candidates  tried to email or fax applications, I stubbornly showed them “the hand” and redirected them to apply online.   

Fast forward several months. We have a high profile, hard-to-fill position. The resumes have sloowwwwwllly trickled in, and none have had me jumping up and down. (Have you seen me jumping up and down? If not, you got to see it!!)  Some resumes were lackluster, some atrocious, a few adequate but not inspiring.

Then today, out of the blue, a perfect candidate dropped off a resume to the front desk. The resume quickily passed hands and made its way to my my office.  Glancing over the document with my highly practiced (cough, cough) eye, I saw:

  •  Flawless resume. No typos, errors or formatting issues.
  • A beautiful, natural writing style that made me froth at the mouth with envy.
  • Cover letter painstakingly customized to the position.
  • Well established connection to our nonprofit mission and purpose.

I took notice. I phoned the candidate fourteen minutes into her drive home; and later that afternoon, she came back for a first interview.

The lesson to my job-searching friends is that sometimes it’s okay to break the rules. I must stress:  I really, really want all my applications to come through my ATS. But I also really, really want to fill the position. If the perfect candidate breaks the “rules” to drop a perfect resume under my nose, believe me, I will set the rules aside and take notice. After all, the outcome is more important than the means designed to achieve the end. Especially when the resume and cover letter flow like silk, with no jarring errors to distract me from the message that she/he is a perfect match for the job.

In this economy, it’s worth considering doing something different. Mail your resume. Drop it off. Overnight it. Put it on a Tshirt or billboard. 

None of this will work with a crappy resume. But if you a the perfect candidate with a top notch resume, the chances are in your favor that you might be noticed.


Photos by  SOCIALisBETTER’s and Ari V

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