3 minute read

Follow-Up Letter Follies

Creativity Goes Over The Top And Out The Door

Job Seeker's Story

Jorge was interviewing for an Account Executive position at a marketing firm where the competition was fierce. He left the first interview feeling very positive and decided that he would win the job by standing out with a memorable follow-up strategy. Jorge went to a local discount retail store and bought a pair of black business shoes in a whopping size 13. He left one shoe in the box and had it couriered to the interviewer with a note that said, “I'd do anything to get my foot in the door.

Time passed and Jorge did not receive a return call or a second interview, which surprised him. When he followed up he was told that someone else was selected. He could not help but ask what the interviewer thought of the shoe. The interviewer responded, “We expect something new and creative at a marketing company of our caliber. Frankly, we've seen the shoe gimmick before, and were unimpressed and rather disappointed with the shoddy display of marketing strategy you obviously possess.

Job Seeker's Stumble

Jorge targeted a cutting-edge marketing firm with a dated strategy that just made his presentation come across as stale and gimmicky. Without it, he might have literally been a “shoe in” for the job. Although there is truly a place for out-of-the-box approaches to follow up, it is critical to ensure you are choosing one that is not dated, overused, or inappropriate for the position or company that you have targeted.

Job Seeker's New Strategy

In most situations, a professional follow-up letter that allows you to sell your strengths and make up for any perceived weaknesses from the interview is most appropriate. However, there are strategies you can use to make a positive impression beyond the letter:

  • • Include a few reference letters that demonstrate your strengths for the position.
  • • Write a white paper or report that further demonstrates your expertise in the area of your targeted position or that shows how you would handle a challenge the company is facing.
  • • Provide a sample of your work and/or a link to a Web portfolio on the Internet.

Though a creative follow-up may seem to be a great idea to stand out from the crowd, it is important to make sure you are making the right choice. Be sure to:

  • Know Your Target: If you do not have a sense of the employer's personality and how he will appreciate a creative follow-up, then it is best to avoid one.
  • Gauge Appropriateness: Do not be creative for creativity's sake. If you are not in a creative industry, then a creative follow-up is probably not your best bet.
  • Apply a Fresh Approach: When you opt for creativity, strive to be flawless, innovative, and unique in your effort. Do not think that using colored paper or a colored font is enough. Additionally, gag-like gimmicks are not appropriate for professional positions.

Consider a few examples of how creativity has been used effectively by job seekers:

  • • A Sales Executive and Advertising Professional for the surf-wear industry used her desktop publishing software to create a full-color custom label to wrap around a bar of surf wax manufactured by the company. She sent the bar to the interviewer with a follow-up letter talking about “customizing service to each client.”
  • • A Mural Artist created a custom work of art, scanned it into the computer, mapped it out as a puzzle, super-imposed a creative version of her résumé that placed one topic area per puzzle section, printed it in full-color, mounted it on foam backing, and cut out the pieces. Along with the puzzle she included an uncut puzzle and a letter stressing that she could put all the pieces together in this role.
  • • A Web Designer demonstrated his grasp of design techniques the company was not using by creating a mock-up of a new service Web page and including the URL to the page in his follow-up letter.
  • • A Marketing Director created a sample marketing plan for the company, highlighting some of her ideas, and included it with the follow-up letter.
  • • An Interior Designer created a 3D mock-up of a room design for her prospective client.
  • • A Dietician brought a booklet of sample nutrition plans she had created for previous clients.

When in doubt, go for a follow-up strategy that is productive and effective instead of creative just for creativity's sake, because more often than not, creativity will do more harm than good.

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesJob Search, Job Interview Questions, & Job Interview TipsFollow-Up Letter Follies - Creativity Goes Over The Top And Out The Door, Do Not Shoot Yourself In The Foot