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VOL. 39 | NO. 7 | Friday, February 13, 2015

Being creative (bending rules) might get you the job

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It should be no surprise that applying online can be a long, difficult process. You’re often left wondering if anyone has read your resume, or if they even know you exist at all.

Earlier this week, I read a story of a creative job seeker who found work passing out resumes in a train station. This inspirational tale reminded me of my own job search years ago.

While attending graduate school, I lived in Los Angeles. I was interested in the apparel industry and wanted to work at Gap’s headquarters in San Francisco. I checked with my school’s career resources department to learn Gap’s recruiters weren’t on the schedule for a campus visit.

Although this was disappointing, I didn’t give up. Instead, I started researching. It took some digging on the Internet, but I found an alternative. Gap’s recruiters would be visiting another L.A.-based MBA program. I discovered when and where they’d be giving their presentation. I printed driving directions and a map of the campus.

Before setting out on my own, I approached one of my classmates with the idea of going together. Initially, she was a bit hesitant. After all, we might be breaking rules on this little adventure. I remember thinking, “What’s the worst that can happen? They might kick us out of the campus, but we don’t even go to school there.”

So, we put on our best business suits, printed our resumes and took off. We excitedly sat in the room waiting with the other students, who all seemed much more relaxed. We were a bit overdressed for the occasion, as many of the students were wearing jeans. Attending this event was a huge accomplishment for us, and possibly just another day for them.

The two recruiters gave a full presentation about what it’s like to work for Gap. At the end, they stood at the front of the classroom and offered to meet anyone who was interested to stay after. My friend and I quickly jumped up and were first in line.

As we introduced ourselves, we each immediately revealed our true school identity. There must have been a ripple of surprise and irritation from all of the other students lined up behind us.

The recruiters, however, were incredibly impressed.

They invited us to visit Gap’s headquarters in San Francisco. They gave us a tour, set up informational interviews for us and took us to dinner. We both learned a tremendous amount and formed connections that we stayed in touch with as we completed our MBA programs. Looking back, this experience was an incredibly valuable one.

If you’re running into obstacles applying online, consider thinking outside the typical online application box. I’m not suggesting you break any laws or even any rules. But doing things just a little differently can get you noticed. And getting noticed can often help to get you hired.

Angela Copeland is CEO/founder of Copeland Coaching, CopelandCoaching.com, and author of “Breaking The Rules & Getting The Job.” She also hosts the Copeland Coaching Podcast on iTunes. You can follow Copeland Coaching on Twitter (@CopelandCoach) and Facebook (facebook.com/CopelandCoaching).

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