Want to Get Hired? Be Memorable.
There is a lot of great, useful advice out there about how to get hired. Spending time on your resume, researching the company, dressing sharp...they're all important. But there's one piece of advice that I feel like has personally helped me the most in my hiring experiences that I don't see often enough in articles about getting a job — be memorable. (See also: Stupid Things to Put in Your Cover Letter)
When I say be memorable, don't take this as an excuse to be ridiculous ("Yes, this is a bright purple suit with a red shirt; thank you for noticing!"), brash ("You will hire me — I am more talented than the entire cast of Glee"), or other kinds of stupid ("Thanks for interviewing me; I brought you roses"). Those examples might be a little over the top, but I think (or, at least, very strongly hope) that you get the gist.
What I mean by memorable is providing information that sticks out in people's minds without overshadowing your qualifications or making you seem, uh, crazy. Let me give you an example from my own experience. When I was in high school, my summer job was working at a small amusement park. I performed in shows, ran rides, and did my share of cleaning bathrooms, but I also regularly performed as Cinderella (yes, I know I'm a brunette — trust me, the thing kids care about the most is a pretty dress). Before I garnered enough professional experience to bump it off my resume, I always included my work at the amusement park. And at the first few "adult" job interviews I ever had, every single person I spoke with brought up Cinderella — often in the context of "when we saw that, we knew we had to bring you in."
While the amusement park hasn't been park of my resume for several years, there are other ways I've made an effort to be memorable. On most resumes I've sent out — I'm a firm believer in editing your resume for each job you're applying for — I've included a "special skills" section. I typically use this section to highlight a mix of skills that could be useful for the job, such as "conversational Italian," and skills that are interesting or unique, such as "puppet construction and manipulation" or "cake decorating." Don't overload the section with a laundry list of hobbies, just pick a couple of interesting skills that could stick out in a hiring manager's mind.
Another technique that I had a lot of success with when I was freelancing full-time was playing with the subject line of emails. When I wrote ones like "Writer Available for Web Copy Job," my hear-back rate was pretty low. But after I changed my line to "Professional and Spunky Writer Available for Web Copy Job," responses shot up — and they'd often cite how unusual it was to see "spunky" as part of the response.
Tricks like this aren't magic bullets, and they definitely aren't a replacement for hard work, preparation, and a good attitude. But they can be what separates you from the rest of the job hunters.
What do you think? Do you have something you use to make yourself memorable when applying for jobs? If so, what?