13 Creative Stunts People Used to Land Their Marketing Dream Jobs

In the competitive world of marketing, sometimes you need more than a stellar resume and finely-tuned cover letter to land your dream job – you need a way to truly stand out from the sea of qualified candidates. As we look ahead to the job market of 2024, creative and memorable application strategies are becoming more important than ever for ambitious marketers eager to get their foot in the door.

Over the past few years, we‘ve seen some incredibly clever and effective approaches from job seekers who know how to harness their marketing skills to become their own best advertisement. From utilizing cutting-edge technology to staging viral-worthy publicity stunts, these outside-the-box thinkers have proven the power of a well-executed creative application.

To inspire your own job search strategy, we‘ve rounded up 12 of the most brilliant and successful real-world examples from recent years. While the specific tactics may not be one-size-fits-all, there are valuable lessons any marketer can apply to help them get noticed by their dream employer.

  1. The Hyper-Targeted Google Ad
    Back in 2010, Alec Brownstein had the genius idea to buy Google ads targeting the names of top creative directors at agencies he wanted to work for. When the execs inevitably Googled themselves, they saw Brownstein‘s tailored message: "Hey, [creative director‘s name]: Googling yourself is a lot of fun. Hiring me is fun, too." At a cost of just 15 cents per click, Brownstein landed interviews and ultimately a job.

In 2024, a modern spin on this could be creating a dynamic landing page or interactive experience personalised with the hiring manager‘s name and optimized to show up in search. It‘s a great way to demonstrate your digital marketing chops while catching their attention.

  1. The Interactive Video Cover Letter
    Video resumes and cover letters have become increasingly common, but in 2021, one TikTok creator took it to the next level. Katie Sipos created an interactive "Choose Your Own Adventure" style video application for a social media role at TikTok. Viewers could click through to watch different segments highlighting her experience, creativity, and passion for the platform. The innovative storytelling approach was a perfect match for the brand and helped Sipos get an interview.

When crafting your own video pitch, think about how you can tap into your target company‘s medium and aesthetic. If you‘re applying for a YouTube marketing gig, perhaps an expertly-edited vlog with hidden Easter eggs leading to your portfolio site. Applying to a gaming company? Create your resume in a custom video game. The key is showcasing your skills in a way that feels organic and relevant.

  1. The Publicity Stunt Resume Drop
    To grab attention for his 2019 internship applications, Aussie marketing student Graham Allgood staged a dramatic stunt. Dressed in a full suit, he zip-lined across a busy Melbourne plaza to hand-deliver his resume to the major companies based there. A crowd quickly formed and videos of the spectacle went viral, ultimately catching the attention of the head of marketing at the company Allgood was targeting. He landed a highly competitive slot in their internship program.

Obviously, not everyone has access to a zip-line in the middle of a city, but the underlying principle holds true: if you can find a way to create a real-world "publicity moment" that gets people talking (and posting on social), you have a much higher chance of getting on a hiring manager‘s radar. Just make sure your big, bold gesture is brand-appropriate and doesn‘t veer into PR-stunt-gone-wrong territory.

  1. The Company Culture "Shrine"
    Want to work for a company you love and know inside-out? Follow the lead of Emily Knittlesand make your passion crystal clear. To apply for a design role at her favorite makeup brand Glossier, Knittle decked out her portfolio with photos of her posing with Glossier products, showing off her collection, and even wearing outfits inspired by the brand‘s aesthetic. She made sure to highlight relevant projects like the Instagram filters and product mock-ups she‘d created on her own time, just for fun. The hiring team was wowed by her authentic enthusiasm and skills, and brought her on board.

The lesson here is "show, don‘t tell." It‘s one thing to express your admiration for a company in a cover letter, but it‘s far more powerful to demonstrate that passion through your own actions and creations. Build an app prototype inspired by the company‘s offerings, write thought leadership content on their area of focus, or create fan art that shows your understanding of their brand. What can you add to your portfolio that screams "I‘m already living and breathing your mission"?

  1. The Perfectly-Targeted "Pain Point" Proposal
    One of the most effective angles for any job application is to show how you can solve a real, immediate problem for the company. That‘s what Ankita Mishra did when applying for a marketing role at Zomato, an Indian restaurant search and delivery platform. Mishra noticed that while Zomato was a market leader, it was missing opportunities to engage users and drive revenue through digital marketing. So, she put together a detailed proposal outlining the campaigns and tactics she would implement in her first 30 days on the job, from a gamified referral program to a UGC contest. By speaking directly to the company‘s pain points and showcasing her relevant skills, Mishra became an obvious choice for the role.

To make this work for you, put on your detective hat and dig deep into the company‘s current challenges and untapped opportunities. Scour their website and marketing channels, read press coverage and reviews, talk to current or past employees if you can. Then, build your application around a specific, actionable plan for how you would tackle those issues and drive meaningful results. The more you can back up your ideas with data, examples, and a clear timeline, the better.

  1. The Viral Job Plea Blowout
    In 2020, during the height of the pandemic unemployment crunch, writer and performer Pasha Grozdov posted a truly epic edition of David Letterman-style "Top 10" lists throughout his social media, each one pleading for writing jobs at mega-brands like Disney, Spotify, and Adobe. The self-deprecating and pop-culture-savvy posts quickly took off, with major figures like Dan Levy and Jennifer Garner sharing Grozdov‘s links. Spurred by the surge of organic buzz and support, brands started to take notice. Grozdov eventually accepted a high-profile job on the writing staff at The Late Show.

Of course, it‘s extremely difficult to orchestrate something "going viral," even for seasoned marketers. But Grozdov‘s stunt illustrates the power of using humor, timeliness, and existing fandoms or popular formats to drastically expand the reach of your "hire me" message. Post your resume on TikTok set to a trending audio clip, start an advice podcast where you analyze the marketing of your dream companies, or kick off a social media challenge related to your job search. The goal is to make your application feel more like an event that people want to engage with and share.

  1. The Print Media Throwback
    While digital strategies tend to generate the most buzz, one 2022 grad student used the power of old-fashioned print media to catch the eye of top firms. Vivian Lee bought a full-page placement in the Harvard Crimson and designed it to mimic the iconic 1958 ad from Bill Bernbach seeking copywriters for his new agency DDB. Lee‘s version announced she was seeking an advertising job at a company that shared Bernbach‘s famous devotion to creativity. The ad quickly spread throughout the industry, both online and through word-of-mouth. Lee‘s gut understanding of advertising history and willingness to put serious skin in the game ultimately led to offers from multiple world-renowned agencies.

For your own print-media play, consider alumni magazines if you‘re a recent grad, local newspapers in a company‘s headquarters city, or niche publications aimed at your target industry. If a full-page ad is beyond your budget, you can always start small with a classified placement and amplify it through your social channels. The main thing is to have a concept that feels knowing and relevant, not just a gimmick.

  1. The "Hire My Friend" Twist
    Applying for the same role as a friend or former colleague can feel awkward – but one 2021 marketing candidate found a way to turn that potentially uncomfortable situation into a win-win. When Danny Riceto learned he and a close friend were finalists for the same position, he took the unconventional step of recommending her for the role in his final interview. He told the hiring manager that while he felt confident in his own abilities, he believed his friend was the ideal person for the job based on her unique blend of skills and experience. Impressed by Riceto‘s selflessness, strategic thinking, and ability to put the company‘s needs first, the interviewer ended up finding a way to hire both him and his friend.

Pulling this off requires careful context and delivery – you never want to sound like you‘re trivializing your own candidacy. But if you approach it from a place of genuine belief in your peer‘s abilities and deep understanding of what the role demands, expressing support for a fellow applicant can be a powerful demonstration of your judgment, teamwork, and commitment to results. It shows you‘re the kind of person who lifts up your colleagues and prioritizes collective success over personal gain.

  1. The Immersive VR Portfolio
    As virtual and augmented reality tech takes off, pioneering job seekers are finding ways to turn the traditional portfolio review into a cutting-edge immersive experience. Multimedia designer Rahul Parikh built a VR "gallery" showcasing 3D models of his past projects and mockups of dream assignments. He then sent customized VR headsets pre-loaded with the experience to the top companies on his wish list. Hiring managers were able to "step inside" Parikh‘s work and explore his skills in a firsthand, memorable way that simply couldn‘t be matched by a flat portfolio site. Several companies reached out to learn more, and Parikh ultimately accepted his dream job.

Not a VR expert? You can still take advantage of interactive formats to breathe new life into your portfolio. Build a chatbot that walks viewers through your projects, create an AI avatar "host" to narrate your work, or design an online scavenger hunt that leads hiring managers to your best samples. The key is to lean into your specific skillset and craft an experience that tells a compelling story while putting your talents front and center.

  1. The Reverse Job Posting
    We‘ve all seen the "seeking missed connection" personal ads that hopeless romantics place in the newspaper. In 2022, copywriter Helena Yoon put a professional spin on that trope with a poetic "reverse job posting" in the style of a classic lovelorn classifieds ad. Instead of promoting her own qualifications, Yoon wrote an ode to her dream employer, pouring her heart out about all the qualities she was seeking in a workplace relationship, from creative chemistry to long-term commitment. The charming, lighthearted tone and artful subversion of the job ad format helped the post go viral on LinkedIn. It caught the attention of Yoon‘s top-choice agency, and she‘s now happily employed as a senior copywriter.

Pulling off something like this requires a deft touch – in the wrong hands, it could easily come off as corny or try-hard. But if you have a way with words and a clear sense of your own voice, putting a playful twist on a classic format can be a great way to showcase your copywriting chops while injecting some much-needed fun and personality into the often soul-crushing application process. The best way to figure out your own take is to consume tons of the type of writing you want to do – ad copy, sitcom scripts, stand-up comedy, etc. – and start to experiment with how you could apply that style to your job search.

As these examples show, there‘s no one "right" way to build a stand-out job application. The strongest approaches tend to be highly individualized – they tap into the candidate‘s unique personality, skills, and understanding of their target company or industry.

But there are a few universal principles we can draw from these success stories:

  1. Show, don‘t just tell. Anyone can claim to be a digital marketing whiz or brand devotee in a cover letter. It‘s far more powerful to show your abilities and passion in action, whether that‘s through a targeted writing sample, inspired design mockup, or active engagement with the company‘s products and community.

  2. Do your homework. The most memorable applications demonstrate deep insight into the company‘s needs, challenges, and culture. Investing time up front to research the organization inside and out will help you craft a laser-focused pitch that feels truly personalized and relevant.

  3. Think beyond the resume. In a sea of identical PDF attachments, alternative formats can be a great way to instantly differentiate yourself. Interactive websites, clever physical mailers, and social media stunts are all fair game – just make sure the medium complements your message and feels organic to the company‘s style and your own skills.

  4. Take calculated risks. Fortune favors the bold – to a point. While big, outside-the-box ideas can yield major payoffs, it‘s important to carefully consider your specific audience and err on the side of tastefulness. You want to be remembered for your creativity and gumption, not because you made the hiring manager uncomfortable.

  5. Be authentically you. At the end of the day, the goal isn‘t just to get your foot in the door, but to land in a role and company that‘s genuinely a good fit. Infusing your personality, humor, and perspective into your application will help potential employers get a real sense of what you‘d be like to work with day to day. And if it‘s not a match, that‘s valuable information to have before you sign an offer letter.

Of course, a creative application is no substitute for genuine qualifications, relevant experience, and rock-solid examples of your ability to drive results. No amount of meme-savvy or guerrilla marketing tactics will make up for a thin resume or lack of required skills.

But in a highly competitive landscape with increasingly remote and automated hiring processes, finding ways to form real human connections and demonstrate your unique value-add is more crucial than ever. So don‘t be afraid to let your imagination run wild as you brainstorm unconventional approaches – your dream job could be just one viral stunt or well-placed Google ad away.