I found this "unsuccessful application" response during my morning routine which involves what 10+ years ago would be referred to as "reading the newspaper.” Now, I barely even have a chance to open my eyes completely before I'm bombarded with an insurmountable number of Tweets, Status Updates, Notifications, Vines, Blog Posts, Emails, and whatever else the Internet has decided to conjure as I slept. As for my "newspaper" of choice, I choose the proclaimed "Front Page of the Internet" known as reddit, which is where I found half of my inspiration for this post (the image above). The other half came from a great candidate I met a few months ago whose approach to standing out was just on the fringe of being "too much.”
YES, I JUST GOOGLED THE WORD "GOLDILOCKS"
Only because I didn't want to spell it incorrectly. I rarely reference stories from my pre-Kindergarten days, but when I do, it makes sense in the end, so stay with me here. I was going to try and use the word Goldilocks in a new and clever way, but apparently, I'm quite late to that party. The Goldilocks Principle is a coined term used across many disciplines including psychology, economics, engineering, and biology.
According to Wikipedia: The Goldilocks principle states that something must fall within certain margins, as opposed to reaching extremes. When the effects of the principle are observed, it is known as the Goldilocks effect.
The letter that the applicant sent garnering the response pictured at the beginning of my post is a perfect example of an extreme. Although it was clever, funny, downright ridiculous, and most definitely stood out, it was way too far "out there" for the prospective employer to take action on. The applicant got their attention and scared them away all within a few sentences.
GETTING YOUR PORRIDGE TO THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE
'm not going to Google porridge. Just know that I'm a bit unclear on what it is. I'm guessing it's some extremely delicious type of oatmeal worth sacrificing your life for at the risk of battling hungry bears. If someone offered me porridge and protection from bears, I would be all over it.
SO CLOSE YET SO FAR...
If my first two years of recruiting have shown me anything, it is that there are a ton of variables that all depend on said Goldilocks Principle. Our clients are looking for the perfect candidate, and conversely, candidates are looking for the perfect employer. Even as I'm writing this, I'm realizing that this topic warrants more than just a single post. So for now, I'll try to give a few examples of what I mean by too much, too little, and just enough.
Too Cold = Just sending your resume; no body or context.
Too Hot = A multiple page cover letter addressed to "Hiring Manager.”
Just Right = A short e-mail addressing any instructions given in the job ad along with a resume and an uncomfortably short pitch highlighting aspects of your profile that directly appeal to the specific employer, job and contact at said employer.
Too Cold = No follow up at all
Too Hot = Following up more than twice without a response
Just Right = Some people might argue what the ideal number of times is. If you're not engaged with the employer in any conversation and it's the first contact, I would suggest shuffling between methods of contact. If it's a question of follow up after you've engaged with someone from the company, asking them what an appropriate time to follow up would be the best route.
Too Cold = No research, no prepared questions
Too Hot = Over-preparing to the point of exhaustion
Just Right = Research the company at a 10,000 level, seek to understand what its position is about, but leave the majority of the questions for the interview, research whom you are meeting with, and most importantly, cater your approach to the interview as if you were in their shoes. There are many stakeholders in the interview process, all with different agendas.
Too Cold = No thank you note or attempt to communicate anything to anyone
Too Hot = A thank you note outlining why you are superior to all the other candidates and that any decision beside you would be business madness. You shouldn't really have to tell anyone you're awesome. They'll know.
Just Right = A quick note copying all parties present at the meeting (and your recruiter if applicable) thanking them for their time, expressing your genuine interest in meeting again. Depending on how it's done, it can also be a good time to reiterate or address something that came to mind but was not brought up. That's a fringe tactic and borders on being too hot. Proceed with caution.
I'm always interested in learning about new approaches to standing out and would love to hear about methods that you've found to work the best.
On a final note, a big thanks to Kaori Furue again for reviewing and editing this post before I sent it off to the Interwebs.