Published September 27, 2013
After six months of sending the traditional cover letter and resume didn’t yield any job opportunities, Matthew Epstein decided to get a little more personal with his job-hunting tactics and sent a cardboard cutout of himself in his underwear to prospective employers.
The 26-year old sent five life-size cardboard figures to Google’s (GOOG) headquarters a little over a year ago, and the cutouts had information directing the web giant to his website, Googlepleasehire.me, that shows his video resume.
The video features Epstein, in boxers and donna a fake mustache, begging execs for 15 minutes of their time for an interview. The video went viral and has received more than one million views on YouTube, and landed Epstein interviews at companies across the country including Amazon (AMZN), Pepsi (PEP) and yes, Google.
“I couldn’t even get a ‘No’ back on my resumes,” he says. “I was bummed out and decided to spend a majority of my savings to prove to myself that I am good at marketing. I had an idea for an all-in type play.”
He spent nearly $5,000 on his job-search push, and even hired propeller planes to circle Google’s headquarters on the day he launched his site but called them off as his video had gone viral immediately. And while Epstein didn’t get hired at Google, the video did land him his current role as head of marketing at benefits, at payroll and human resources outsourcing company Zenifits.
“I looked at it as less of a resume, and more about a project I could put everything into,” he says. “I think for a lot of people, what stops them from doing something different is being scared of what other people will say or do. Ninety-five percent of the challenge and doing something creative is having the courage to put it out there.”
Epstein’s dramatic move worked, but hiring and human resources experts warn non-traditional applications and resumes only work in certain circumstances.
Creative attempts to get noticed don’t work across the board, says Jeff Wald, co-founder of Work Market, a professional transaction market startup.
Resumes that showcase visual skills and creativity may work for certain jobs in marketing, public relations or graphic design, he says, but catchy or over-the-top campaigns may not strike the right chord with a company. “On the whole, they can be a negative. Sometimes those things are just annoying, [especially] if you are just about getting noticed. For me, someone coming in with some kitschy thing, gets thrown in the garbage.”
When looking to fill a position, Wald says he would much rather see a candidate present well, speak intelligently and put forth the right credentials that align with the position.
“In certain industries, you may require a visual resume, but I think that is a vast minority,” he says. “I don’t care what you look like or if you can do something silly or goofy.”
Tommy Dimmel*, a 30-year-old graphic designer from Kansas City, Mo., is hoping his video resume elicits the right attention with hiring managers. Dimmel’s video features him rapping, mugging and displaying his design skills, in a video he made and wrote himself.
Dimmel is looking for a creative marketing job, and has just starting to send out his link to potential employers as an online portfolio.
“I feel I want to be more challenged at this point in my career—I do music, video, photography…it would be great to be utilized for my multi-faceted abilities,” Dimmel says.
Any negative reaction from a company to his video resume would help him weed out companies that wouldn’t be the right fit. “If people see this and thought I was nuts or stupid, I wouldn’t want to work there.”
Nimesh Gupta, 31, found a company he wanted to work for and used its own product to showcase the value he would bring. The former lawyer-turned-entrepreneur used ClearSlide’s tool to make creative slideshows and created his own that displayed his credentials. It worked, and he is now the manager of Strategic Alliances at the Silicon Valley-based startup.
“I was able to present [my skills] to the company in real time during my first interview,” Gupta says. “It was a collection of what I had done, as well as a customer testimonial from people in the valley who were using the product, and what was working for them, and what could be improved in the platform.”
Gupta says the he recognized the fast-paced startup world ClearSlide operates in and knew he would have to think out-of-the-box to get noticed.
“The talent that people are looking for think very differently, and can speak to the actual product they company that you are interviewing for is actually selling,” he says.
Carol Carpenter, ClearSlide’s chief marketing officer, was on the hiring team that interviewed Gupta and was the first to see his pitch. He lucked out on another level too with his digital presentation, she says, as the startup is paperless.
“The talent pool in Silicon valley is very tight for both hiring and job seeking,” she says. “We are a high-momentum, high-growth company and we don’t want people who color in the lines. It’s almost like, ‘ok, you are average.’ We want people who color outside the lines.”
*Dimmel is the cousin of FOX Business Network employee