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1. Breast-shaped Cupcake
Several days after interviewing a young woman for an open position, I received a “thank you” card. It read:
“Thank you so much for considering me as a candidate to fill the position. Please accept this gift as a token of my appreciation and look forward to speaking with you soon.”
I proceeded to open the small box which accompanied note and found a cupcake in the shape of a woman’s breast. I called the interviewee to let her know her token had confused me.
Embarrassingly, she explained that I had received the cupcake intended for her husband.
She withdrew her application.
Lyman A. Montgomery, Lyman Montgomery Success Network
2. Origami Eagle
I applied for a job that was “detail oriented.”
I sent my resume along with a highly complex origami eagle I had made from a folded square of paper [pictured above].
I got an interview, and then a second interview, and then I got the job!
Benjamin John Coleman, Origami Bonsai
3. Vial of Visine
One of the most memorable things sent to me from a job seeker was a vial of Visine attached to his resume.
I received a ton of resumes for an open position and I did indeed get red eyes looking though all the resumes.
The Visine was a clever differentiator that made that candidate stand out. Because of that I brought him in for an interview.
Tedd Rodman, Aveksa
4. Autographed New England Patriots Helmet
Nicest gift I’ve received was a full sized New England Patriots Helmet with QB Tom Brady’s signature.
The gentleman wasn’t even a candidate. Obviously I gave him an hour on the phone talking about his career and the best way to tackle going about a job search … The gentleman worked for one of the baseball card companies. So sport memorabilia was something he had plenty of access to, and in turn used it to his advantage for networking.
He had been given my name as someone he should contact, hence he sent the helmet as a “foot in the door.”
John W. Ferneborg, The Ferneborg Group
5. Railroad Spikes
Once knew a young man named Spike who wanted a job in the entertainment publicity market.
His first mailing included actual railroad spikes painted silver. That was impressive.
Where he blew it was in the follow-up. He sent huge sponges with a note that read, “In case my first mailing got you too excited.” You can imagine how my then-boss, a woman, felt about that.
Spike was erased from her databank and has never been heard from again.
Tom Kidd, Pres Pak Public Relations
6. Newborn Baby Pictures
One guy sent me pictures of his newborn baby. Wasn’t sure if he was a proud papa or just trying to trick me into hiring him.
Rich Matteo, @CornOntheJob
7. Big Packet of Beef Jerky
Funniest [gift] was big packet of beef jerky… very odd gift, but luckily I do love me some beef jerky!
This was from a candidate that I had a nice meeting with for a search. It was on a Saturday and after the interview he was taking his son to his local state fair. We had joked earlier in the interview that you could always find someone selling great beef jerky and the latest wonder mops. Being witty, he sent me a few packs of jerky.
It gave me a big chuckle!
John W. Ferneborg, The Ferneborg Group
8. Caricature Thank You Card
Had an accurate caricature portrait as a TY [thank you] card. The caricature thank you card is on my profile, it was pretty cool.
9. Resume in Playboy Magazine Centerfold Format
A female applicant sent a resume in a format like the Playboy Magazine: Height, Weight, Measurements, Most Likes, Least Likes, etc. The whole thing except without the photo.
Under “biggest turn-ons”, she said that she liked intelligent people.
She misspelled intelligent.
The whole thing was classic. I kept it to this day. It was written on a typewriter at a time just before computers came into the workplace.
Rich Arzaga, Cornerstone Wealth Management, Inc.
10. Picture of a Key
A candidate once sent me a picture of a key with the caption Thanks for opening that door for me. I thought it was simple but smart.
Duane Roberts, @DuaneRoberts
11. Balloons, Flowers, and a Cake
I have balloons and flowers and a cake this morning.
12. Bag of Mixed Nuts
Once, we had a completely unqualified candidate that was determined to interview for one of our jobs.
After she showed up at our office a few times without an appointment, and after being told repeatedly (very nicely, I might add) that she was not a good fit, the corporate HR department finally had to get in touch with her and tell her to stop.
She sent us a bag of mixed nuts with a note that said “I’m not nuts…I just really want to work for you!” Clever, but still doesn’t give you the skills I’m looking for.
This was definitely the most memorable thing I’ve received…but not in a good way.
13. Basket of Chocolates and a Bottle of Vodka
Had a candidate interviewing for a management level IT spot.
His mother sent me a gorgeous basket with chocolates and a bottle of vodka with a note that said “Thank you for helping Ralph with his job hunt. You will need this before it’s over.” I did, he didn’t get the job and was high maintenance.
I sent his mother a thank you note and said I was sorry he did not get the offer.
She sent a note back that said, “me too”.
Sandra McCartt, @SandraMcCartt
The only physical thing besides flowers/cards was logo-related like sweatshirt/hat/bags/mugs.
Shannon Myers, @slcmyers
16. Bag of Fried Pork
A bag of fried pork rinds with a note saying he’d crunch all our problems away.
Jane Perdue, @thehrgoddess
17. Handmade Card
This might not be unique but I considered it a “treasure”.
A candidate sent me a handmade card with her beautiful handwriting expressing her heartfelt thoughts and appreciation for believing in her and securing for her a job that she desired. I haven’t seen such personalized cards, better still being handwritten, in years since the advent of emails and social media.
I felt so pleased and proud – it really made my day and wiped away my earlier frustrations. I was so proud that I showed it to my colleagues – just to share my little joy…
Ellen Cheong, JonDavidson Group
18. Wine Filter
One job hunter … sent a wine filter with a note about not having to Filter any more candidates.
John Sumser, @JohnSumser
19. Dog Biscuits
I was recruiting creatives for an advertising group within the Ralston Purina Pet Product Company.
A resume accompanied some dog biscuits which were uniquely designed and packaged —demonstrating this particular candidate’s take on how dog biscuits could be marketed.
20. Baby Bottle
I owned a company with my wife. We advertised in the NY Times looking for a copywriter.
The ad read: “Mommy/Daddy track agency looking for a copywriter.”
The successful candidate sent us a baby bottle.
Josh Moritz, Creative Partners
21. Large Cakes
My most memorable of all gifts was at an interview with a Controller for a cake company.
He brought me 4 large beautiful cakes as a gift. I brought them back to the office and my team was loving this guy for the generosity and great flavors!
John W. Ferneborg, The Ferneborg Group
22. Branded Applications
Applications fully branded to the company (meaning they look and feel like a company marketing document [from the interviewer's company]. These applications stand out and have 90+% interview rates).
23. Mini-Fuller Brush
A successful candidate was a Fuller Brush sales person who wanted to work in advertising.
He wrote a great letter and included a mini-fuller brush as a thank you for reading his letter.
Josh Moritz, Creative Partners
24. Actual Paper Resume in an Actual Envelope
A candidate sent me an actual paper resume in an actual envelope and sent it through the regular mail. Weird.:)
Tracey Cress, digital concepts incorporated
25. Brighton Watch
I have received flowers, Starbucks gift cards and once I received a Brighton watch from a job seeker. These were all after I placed them in a job.
Stacy Pursell, The VET Recruiter
26. Resume with a Cover Letter with Three Drawings
While in college, I sent out a resume with a cover letter of me with three drawings as a Clark Kent-looking photographer, one with a notepad and a hat with a press pass in the hat-band (very ’40s Clark Kent) and with fingers flying over a TYPEWRITER’s keyboard (gives you an idea of the era).
An artist friend drew it, I MIMEOGRAPHED the resume and cover.
Not one response.
Two years into my journalism career, I did a newspaper (4 page tab size) with the lead story of me looking for work and my work illustration (writing and photos).
Again, not one response out of 500 sent out. Sent out about the same number for the drawing cover letter.
A short time later, I had an interview for a music writer in Texas. The publisher said he wanted someone creative and my plain resume wasn’t creative. He pulled out my newspaper and the cover sheet he had kept. He said, “You need to be as creative as these people.” I asked him if he had even read the name on the material he was showing, He said no. I said, “Why didn’t you respond when I sent you that material?”
I never got the music writer position.
Richard Kelleher, Marketing Sociologist
One applicant brought in home made — and delicious! — cookies when applying for a position.
She followed up by saying she hoped we liked the cookies (as baking was listed under Activities in her resume), because she’s half as good at making cookies as she would be at being a Marketing Manager.
She didn’t ultimately get the job, but her effort was positively noticed and helped to get her an interview.
Sara Sutton Fell, FlexJobs
28. Resume in a Chinese Food Delivery Box
I had a candidate send me their resume in a Chinese food delivery box – they folded the resume in the shape of a fortune cookie – they were applying for a marketing job and wanted to show how ‘clever' they were.
I have to say it stood out in uniqueness but the resume substance did not live up to the clever packaging.
Lisa A. Doorly, Portescap
29. GI Joe Action Figure
I got a GI Joe action figure from a candidate proclaiming to be “The fighter of clean and usable code (Java)”.
Darryl Dioso, Resource Management Solutions Group
30. Designer Candle
My niche is the creative world, so my “gifts” are eccentric! The nicest logical type of gift was a gorgeous designer candle sent Fed Ex overnight by a candidate I had just placed.
Suzanne Levison, @619Suzanne
31. Tea-bagged Resume
I once had a resume sent to me with a tea bag stapled to it. There was a note attached saying something like “take the time to make yourself a cup of tea before you read this. This will be the most important document you read all day.”
The guy was very arrogant, both on the phone and on paper and did not get the job. Also, the fact that the tea bag was stapled meant it was unusable, it ripped when I tried to get it off!
Samantha Lacey, Omni RMS
32. Something to hang on the wall
In my former life as a recruiter, I did receive gifts as far and wide as candy, flowers and cigars to dinner and show tickets. However, one thing I’ll clue you and your readers in on was something I learned for my own “chances to be memorable” (which is why you send something anyway) in my growth as a career expert.
I’ve now made a big impact by sending to folks who I want to stay in the short-term memory of something they can hang on their wall.
That includes my picture, my book, and if they were someone I met, a picture of me actually with them. People hang up these shadow boxes as if they were an award or something, which not only keeps me in front of them, but also allows them to speak of me when someone asks “What’s that?”
The trick for job seekers is to come up with something similarly wall-worthy that has class and appeal that will keep that person top-of-mind.
Darrell W. Gurney, CareerGuy
33. Threatening Letters
The most extreme item I've ever seen sent was actually multiple items, from a man who'd heard about an opening for a marketing and PR person at a local charity and decided to demonstrate his expertise at grabbing people's attention.
He went to the charity's website and found the names and business contact info for everyone on their board, the people he figured would be making the final decision on the hiring. Then, cutting out letters from a newspaper, he sent each board member a series of letters.
The first had just his first name “John.”
The second read “John Smith.'
Then “John Smith Is,” “John Smith Is Going,” “John Smith Is Out to Going to,” and “John Smith Is Going to Blow.”
Then apparently thinking he was clever enough to avoid creating a problem message, the next letter added two words rather than one. It read: “John Smith Is Going to Blow You Away!”
Which is when the police showed up at his door. Before he had the chance to send out the next letter with his resume that explained just how his expertise was in fact going to blow everyone away.
Barry Maher, barrymaher.com
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I originally published a version of this article on Noomii.com: 27 Wackiest Gifts Sent By Job Seekers To Recruiters.