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Jay Leno: The No. 1 thing you should do to stand out and get hired

Jay Leno isn't going to hire based on resumes.

"You can send resumes all day long and people say 'uh-huh.' They just flip through," the comedian and host of "Jay Leno's Garage" tells CNBC Make It.

If you want to get hired, "personal contact is the most important," he says. "If they see you and they go, that young man or that young woman — they had something. They impressed me when I met them. They looked me in the eye. They shook my hand. That stuff really, really counts for something."

Jay Leno, former host of NBC's  "The Tonight Show"
NBC | Getty Images
Jay Leno, former host of NBC's "The Tonight Show"

It certainly does for Leno, who once hired someone after meeting them at a fast food joint.

"I was standing in line at El Pollo Loco, a chicken place, and the guy behind me says, 'Hi, Mr. Leno,'" the former "Tonight Show" host recalls.

Leno asked what the guy did for a living only to find out that he'd just graduated and was looking for a job as a sound engineer.

"I looked at him. His name was Patrick. I said, 'Come to NBC tomorrow,'" Leno continues. "He stayed with me 20 years. He became a sound guy. Something about him looked right. That doesn't always work, but nine times out of 10, it'll get you more response than an email."

If you can't meet face-to-face, write a personal letter, says Leno: "If there's somebody you admire, be it in show business or finance or whatever, write those people a letter. Don't write it in crayon on a paper bag like a psycho. Write a proper business letter."

It will stand out more so than an email or resume. "I'm always amazed at the number of people that say, 'Well, I sent an email. I didn't get any response.' No, but if you send a handwritten letter or if you deliver it yourself," that can be more memorable, says Leno.

Even if your personal letter or face-to-face meeting doesn't land you a job, chances are, you'll get something out of it, Leno says: "I find most people like to help young people. I do.

"Whenever I meet people that want to be comedians, I'm excited for them. I sit down. I talk to them. I tell them what worked for me. What didn't work for me. And most people are willing to do that."

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