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Resume with a side of cookies: Standing out in the job market

With the unemployment rate hovering at around 7.7 percent, the stiff competition is encouraging creativity in applicants wanting to stand out. Job applicant Dawn Siff talks about her unique way of promoting herself, and she and Thrillist CEO Adam Rich advise TODAY viewers on how to get noticed.

With more than 12 million Americans unemployed, job candidates are struggling to stand out – so much that some are going to extreme lengths to present creative -- and sometimes outlandish -- resumes.

There’s the husband in Sylvania, Ohio who last summer paid for an electronic billboard ad touting his wife’s qualifications (imploring, “Please Hire My Wife”). Designer Melissa Washin delicately sewed her resume into fabric, sized like resume paper, when she was in college. In Paris, Philippe Dubost's resume, a mock-up of an Amazon item for sale, went viral.

For some employers, resumes with flair have the desired effect. Ada Famulari, who runs the internship program at the TODAY Show, said she sees hundreds of resumes throughout the year – when a fat envelope stuffed with cookies arrived on her desk, it was at the top of the pile.

“It bypassed my pile of resumes,” Famulari said. “I opened up the envelope and found a resume for an internship. And I thought, ‘Wow. You know it could have taken me a week to get to that resume but it moved to the front immediately.’ ”  

Dubost, who created the Amazon ad, appears to have had success with his unorthodox resume, which links to his LinkedIn profile, lists his fastest marathon time (3:22) and, if you click on the “Add to wedding registry” link, a cheeky pop-up warns: “Not happening.” Dubost reported on his Tumblr that his ad attracted 1.3 million unique visitors, and that he is currently negotiating for a job.

Washin, the designer-seamstress, landed her first job out of college at a global fragrance manufacturer. She is currently transitioning to Etsy, where she will be a product manufacturer. Reached by phone Thursday, Washin said she’s often been asked whether creative resumes are a good idea.

“It made sense for me as a designer to do something more creative,” she said. “But someone applying to the insurance industry, maybe it wouldn’t be a good idea to present a resume on fabric. You could do something related to that industry, maybe a little ‘Approved’ stamp, or place a resume on an insurance application form, or something a little special you can do that makes it a little relevant.”

Some career coaches don’t advise over-the-top resumes, however.

Jane Cranston, a career coach with Executive Coach NY, told NBCNews.com: “It’s like getting on a dating site and putting up a naked picture of yourself.”

Cranston added: “You could attract a lot of waste-of-time wackos.”

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Have you created an unlikely resume? Tell us about it in the comments -- and whether you were successful.