HR & Management

8 CVs that garnered widespread viral success

9 min read

30 April 2015

The average time it take for a recruiter to decide whether to hire someone based on a CV is five to seven seconds. This has led to millennials getting creative with their resumes in order to land their dream internships and jobs. The possibilities are endless!

This has been shown by the numerous CVs that have gone viral around the world.

Of course, it’s not always pretty. For example, the CV of Benedict Le Gauche caught the attention of the media for all the wrong reasons. He described previous jobs as “for the greater part, boring and drudgerous and disheartening”.

Le Gauche claimed a past colleague had “cadaverous skin and a desperate smell” and admitted he had a “devil-may-care attitude to punctuality”, not to mention that he “withered on the publishing vine and hit the bottle”.

When done right, however, CVs have the potential of grabbing the CEO’s immediate attention. This was the case when Nina Mufleh sent a CV to Airbnb and managed to capture the attention of both the CEO and CMO.

After proving unsuccessful in contacting the company, she Mufleh decided to create a resume that mirrored Airbnb’s website.

“I actually thought, I haven’t done everything I can,” she said, admitting that none of her prospective interviews had turned into a job offer. “I’ve done the same multiple times, but I haven’t tried new approaches.”

Perhaps more interestingly, was the fact she omitted all talk of previous experience and focused solely on how she could improve the company. Through various slideshows, she showcased her knowledge of the travel industry by proposing new possible avenues Airbnb could take to drive growth.

Innovative resumes are increasingly becoming a growing trend, as has been highlighted by previous CVs that became viral successes.

Arguably one of the most talked-about CVs has been Philippe Dubost’s Amazon account inspired resume. Dubost, a web product manager, wanted to work for Amazon. He built a website that looked like one of its product pages.

The page went viral, pushing the limits of Dubost’s server capacity. He had to fix his contact form after the number of submissions exceeded the cap for his free account with online form-builder Wufoo.

He also got 150 job offers and garnered over 1m hits in only eight days.

UCD graduate Jordan McDonnell, who worked as a financial analyst in the Netherlands, saw similar success. With his contract running up he decided to get out of the world of accounting and join the creative industry instead.

Due to his lack of experience, McDonnell ventured beyond the normal paper or email approach.

“Applying standard CVs to marketing companies and social media companies, they automatically discount me because of my background,” he said. “So I tried to do something that reflected their industry.”

Entitled “This is NOT my resume“, McDonnell uploaded his resume to the slideshow-sharing website SlideShare, where it began to attract attention. Nine days after it was uploaded, it had already attracted 92,000 views.

Donnell admitted he was “baffled” by how his presentation had taken off, and said contact has also come from other job-hunters expressing their admiration.

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And rather than needing to send his alternative CV to prospective employers, the employers came knocking on his door without further prompt – with response from companies of varying sizes from as far away as the US, and three rounds of interviews already completed that week.

Then there’s UPenn student Alice Lee who skipped four classes in order to create a website called “Dear Instagram – With Love, Alice“.

A marketing major, she previously took a semester off to work for Foursquare. She has also interned at Microsoft. The tech community was impressed by her creativity and motivation. Instagram investor Chris Sacca tweeted: “I’ve never met @byalicelee. But, when I see hustle like this, I am sure I will, eventually.”

Although she wasn’t offered a position at Instagram, she did speak with co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom on the phone. It also garnered her an internship with Path.

Landing a job was extra sweet for one New Yorker – who sent in his resume disguised as a candy bar. Nick Begley’s skills were printed under the “ingredients” section of the wrapper, stretched around a “standard Nestle Crunch”.

Instead of calories the bar listed his education level, MBA, and instead of vitamin counts, the bar’s label claimed Begley had 110 per cent work ethic, among others.

This approach saw him get offered two jobs in three months.

“It right after the downturn in 2009, so I needed to do something to differentiate myself, especially in marketing, where so many people were looking for jobs,” Begley said.

The chocolate bar went viral when a friend of his posted a photo on Reddit.

“People are either going to love or hate it,” Begley said. “My focus was to find an organization that would embrace it because if they weren’t open to that kind of out-of-the-box thinking, that wouldn’t be a company that I would fit in well with anyways.”

Graeme Anthony’s online resume, made in 2010, had the added feature of being interactive. Using the power of YouTube he created six videos meant to show off his experience and talents. Anthony sent the video strictly to employers and had a job lined up before the video went public. But after its public release, business sites and commentators began to praise him. 

In the end, he received so many job offers that he started his own freelance business instead.

“It brings me to life in a completely new way,” he said. “It shows off my personality in a way a paper CV can’t. It’s got the wow factor.” After the first introductory video segment, viewers can choose to browse through segments such as “portfolio”

And who could forget designer Robby Leonardi’s video game resume? With Super Mario Brothers used as a theme, the interactive CV featured a red caped character that jumps, swims and races through the various sections of skills, interests, job timeline and published work.

Last but not least, Alec Brownstein’s approach was just as effective, but costed the least.

As a senior copywriter Brownstein admitted he googled himself “embarrassingly frequent”.

“Everybody googles themselves,” he said. “Even if they don’t admit it. I wanted to invade that secret, egotistical moment when [the creative directors I admired] were most vulnerable.”

Brownstein “placed bids on the names” of all the creative directors he admired on Google Adwords. His theory was that he surely couldn’t be the only one to Google himself. After a few months, he had received calls from all of the target names, save one.