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In today’s society, it’s not enough to have a college degree, a good GPA, internships, and work experience on your resume to land your ideal job. To be frank, all of that PLUS your two minors and your oddly long list of “expertise,” (since you’ve only had a couple professional years of working experience under your belt), won’t get you much more than an entry-level position at a place you thought you’d never work at.

Unfortunately that dreaded saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” is becoming undeniably true. For everyone who is sick of this because a) you don’t know anyone who will land you an awesome job, b) because YOU deserve that job over that person who landed the job who knew someone, or c) because you currently have that unsatisfying job; you may be thinking of taking some “risks” when submitting your next application. While, you ARE trying to catch people’s attention, remember you want to do so in a way that will shed positive light on your application.

Please don’t be fooled, the audacious kid who submitted this cover letter for a Wall Street internship IS the exception. It’s not every day that a wisecracker submits a gem like this to a prestigious investment bank and gets ten other competing companies vying for him to carry out his unpaid internship under them. More likely than not, yours will get deleted, ignored, or even mocked.

Here are some things that you should think twice about before investing in or sticking your neck (and reputation) out before doing to get that coveted role you have been pining over your entire professional working life.

  • Renting a billboard, posting your picture and contact information on it, to scream at all passerby’s, “HIRE ME!”
  • Writing a cover letter so “gutsy” that it is borderline offensive; you may make such a (negative) impression on the company that you inadvertently blacklist yourself
  • Deciding to be the “odd man out” and mailing in your application because you want to stand out; you will stand out for about five seconds and then you will be recycled
  • Putting your picture on your resume: while I have heard mixed reviews on this idea, it’s best to include your LinkedIn profile or website instead of including your headshot (which you took in your bathroom- yes, we can tell)
  • Going to the physical office location with doughnuts and coffee. Why don’t more people think of that?! Oh yes, because a) most legitimate places have security, b) would YOU eat food from a complete and desperate stranger? And, c) what if a prospective employer got sick from the food?! Talk about a leaving a bad taste in their mouth!

The key to getting hired is being yourself (just not the creepy, really desperate for a job self) and to also customize your cover letter and resume to the position you’re applying to. Sometimes it does take a little risk to get the reward, but evaluate how much you’re willing to put on the line for a job that you may not even get. Bottom line, at the end of the day, how comfortable would you honestly be with driving past your face on a billboard?

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