Totally unorthodox approaches to securing a job interview

eFC logo

To conclude the sepia-tinted nostalgia of Look Back on Lehman week, we'd like to draw your attention to one ex-Lehman banker's unusual but ultimately successful methods of getting seen by potential hiring managers.

They were employed by Lawrence G. McDonald, a former VP at Lehman, and are described in his book, 'A Colossal Failure of Common Sense.' He used them to secure a first job, but they could equally apply to getting any kind of job in desperate times.

1. Send out dozens of application letters and CVs to named individuals

McDonald says he spent 'hours in the library' researching the names of CEOs, CFOs and heads of human resources at various brokerage firms. He then sent 'armloads' of application letters to them.

Result: Zero.

2. Turn up at potential employers

McDonald says he then turned up at brokerage houses armed with the name of the person he wanted to see.

Result: Repelled by secretaries and security.

3. Turn up disguised as an executive late for an appointment

McDonald subsequently presented himself as an 'out-of-breath, well-dressed young exec who was simply so late for an appointment that there was no time to argue at the desk.'

Sometimes he says he, 'charged in, as if I owned the place, and headed for the boss's door.' Alternatively, he'd say he had an appointment, had travelled 200 miles to keep it and wouldn't take no for an answer.

Result: Not clear, but would be nasty if you try and rush security guards in the current climate.

4. Turn up disguised as a delivery man

After the methods above failed, McDonald got creative. He researched his target, bought a tradesman's work coat, and 'turned up on his birthday or anniversary with chocolates or flowers that had to be delivered personally.'

Alternatively, he arrived pretending to be a pizza delivery man: 'I hit the receptionist with my best Italian accent and barged straight in, quivering with urgency, as if any delay would cost the receptionist her job, not to mention mine. Once I was past the receptionist, I was able to ditch the white coat and the pizza boxes.'

Result: Often escorted out of the building. But on several occasions McDonald actually got to talk to his target, who was charmed by his chutzpah. They didn't actually give him a job, but they did give him some invaluable advice: pass regulatory exams and get some sales experience.

Based on this, McDonald passed his Series 7 and became a top pork chop salesman before getting a first job at Merrill Lynch.

Conclusion: If you're out of the market and want to get back in, or if you've never been in the market and want a first job, you'll need to be impervious to rejection, and innovative where necessary.

"Deep within me there burned an ambition so powerful I sometimes thought it might burn me up with it. I was prepared to walk through fire to get where I was going," says McDonald. He is now stoking his fires as managing director of Pangea Capital Management LP, a multi-strategy hedge fund based in Bermuda.

Popular job sectors


Search jobs

Search articles