As frustrating as a job search can be, there’s always a “thrill of the hunt” aspect that gets me fired up.

What I find most exhilarating is trying to find creative and resourceful ways to get myself (or at least my name) in front of the hiring manager. Personal contact and networking are most often the keys to finding a job. Simply sending in a resume and hoping for the best usually ends with the emailed form letter rejection.

Recently, a local agency provided the perfect opportunity for some creativity.

Their listing included the line, “If you you want to do some great work, drop in for a first date.”

I couldn’t believe it. Seldom is a job posting so ripe with opportunity to stand out from the crowd. This one was going to be a piece of cake (or, more specifically, donut).

Fortunately, the ad also mentioned there are 36 employees. With the personnel count verified, I went to the best donut shop in the area, bought three dozen donuts (that’s one for everyone), and headed downtown for my first date.

When I arrived, I was greeted by a receptionist who gave me an inquisitive “hello.” I said, “Hi, my name if Face, and I’m here for our date.”

Not surprisingly, this confused her, and she asked what I meant. I told her about their ad, and that it said I should drop by for my first date. And like anyone on a first date, I wanted to make a good impression, so I brought donuts for the team.

She said she would get the hiring manager and would be right back. Before long, she returned to say he was busy and couldn’t meet with me. I was prepared for this, because they didn’t know I was coming. Their availability wasn’t guaranteed. So I started to write him a note when he appeared around the corner.

He introduced himself and started to explain that he was very busy and wouldn’t have time to meet with me. I could see the pain of guilt as he said things like, “I really wish you would have called first,” and “I’m very sorry, but I just don’t think I have time to meet.” I had him right where I wanted him.

I didn’t really think I’d get a meeting coming in cold. My goal was to get my resume in his hands, put a name to a face, and show him that I’m creative, confident, and resourceful.

After letting him squirm just a bit, I let him off the hook by telling him that it was OK. I would make myself available whenever it worked best for him. I then said, “I’ll bet that ‘first date’ line has attracted all sorts of people stopping by,” to which he responded I was the only one. Even better!

Our interaction ended with him telling me he’d look at my resume and get back to me. Sounded great to me.

A few days later, he wrote to tell me a bit more about one of the key aspects of the job that he thought I didn’t have enough of in my resume. He thanked me for the donuts and wished me the best.

My response was to thank him for that and ask if I could take him to lunch to learn more about him and talk about experiences.

I didn’t have enough specific experience for him, but I had quite a bit. But even more importantly, when I’m looking to hire someone, and I’ve hired close to 100 people in my career, if you’re resourceful enough to find an unusual way to reach me, or you are even able to figure out my personal phone or email, you can almost guarantee you’ll get the interview.

Drive, determination, creativity, confidence, and resourcefulness are all valued traits, and while anyone can say they have those things, finding an interesting way to make me aware of you illustrates those things through actions. And, it’s rare. As he said, I was the only one who actually read the ad and showed up.

While I may very well have not been the perfect fit for the job, I do have years of experience doing essentially what they do. And I illustrated I was a rare candidate. Were I him, even if I wasn’t going to hire me, I would have taken the lunch just to keep track of a person who was motivated to go to these lengths.

If you’re a hiring manager, don’t rely on the machines to scan resumes for key words. Look for the person motivated enough to make the connection. More often than not, that’s the kind of person you want on the team.