Career Search: Are Creative Resumes a Good Idea?

ByMichelle Kruse

In a competitive job market, creative resumes can be a great way to stand out. Unfortunately, they can also be a great way to annoy recruiters. Learn how to decide when getting creative is best.
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Everyone likes to think they're special. So why not communicate that to potential employers with your resume? Applicants have used Vine videos, infographics, and even candy wrappers to replace the standard CV.

In a competitive job market, creative resumes are a great way to show off your design skills and stand out from other applicants.

Unfortunately, they're also a great way to annoy recruiters who are attempting to sift through hundreds of other resumes. When it comes down to it, it really just depends on the situation.

Where Are You Applying?

Creative resumes certainly aren't for everyone. Are you applying to a graphic design firm, a funky art gallery, or an uber-hip ad agency? Then yes, they might appreciate an eye-catching, well-designed resume that reflects your unique personality. Are you applying to be a pharmacist, an accountant, or a bank manager?

Chances are, hiring managers will appreciate a traditional resume that gets straight to the point: your professional experience. Most importantly, follow instructions. If they ask for a basic resume in 12-point font, don't send them a hand-lettered masterpiece.

The Key(word) to Success

One of the biggest risks of using a creative resume isn't annoying an over-worked recruiter. Nope, it has to do with a little something called an Applicant Tracking System.

A lot of companies now use these programs to screen the first round of resumes, and it's not uncommon for flashy, complicated resumes to be disregarded before any humans even lay eyes on them. Be sure to use relevant keywords in any kind of resume you use, and try to make them easy to pick up on. It never hurts to submit a basic resume in addition to your creative resume, particularly when applying online.

Get to the Point

If you do decide to submit a creative resume, remember that it's not a total free-for-all -- you should still abide by some basic resume-writing rules.

Most importantly, information should be presented in a clear, concise, easy-to-read format. It shouldn't take recruiters five minutes to figure out your name because you wrote it in some hard-to-read font. Most people will spend no more than 60 seconds looking at a resume, so be sure that they can get the gist in that amount of time. Some other things to keep in mind:

  • Include your full name and contact information.
  • Highlight your key professional accomplishments.
  • Include dates so that recruiters have a general idea of your professional timeline.

Be Original

Don't just choose to use a creative resume because it's fun. You should have a good reason for mixing things up.

Using hot pink paper may make your resume stand out, but what does it say about your skills? Make sure you're communicating a distinctive skill set through your idea and its execution. And that means not copying other people's creative resume ideas.

If your goal is to be unique, why would you steal someone else's concept? Have you had success with a creative resume, or are you steering clear? Share your experience in the comments!

This article is reprinted by permission from, © Adicio Inc.  All rights reserved.

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