Do Creative Resumes Really Work?

Thursday, October 12th, 2017 - Resume

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Every so often a story gets picked up by the media about a job seeker that went above-and-beyond to apply for a job by creating a unique resume and sales pitch. Maybe they transformed their resume into product packaging (think candy bar wrappers or shampoo bottles), wrote a rap song, or developed a catchy video. Perhaps their resume was formatted as a product description or a customer review. While these eye-catching attempts can be impressive, do they really work?

In a small number of cases, yes. For most people, probably not. Many employers still prefer the standard resume because they are tasked with sorting through dozens (or hundreds) of applicants. A candy bar wrapper doesn’t easily scan into an ATS, and if it’s not something that automatically catches their interest, it may get lost in the shuffle.

There are several points to consider before going all out with a creative resume:

Some employers view them as gimmicky. They don’t necessarily want someone who is vying for attention; they want someone who can do the job. Unless your out-of-the-box resume is closely aligned with the company – and packed with convincing and pertinent information – you may be missing the mark. There are always exceptions and recruiters who like candidates who take risks, but many are just as happy with those who follow traditional protocol.

It must be perfect. If you’re going all out, your resume must be exceptional. Don’t waste a hiring manager’s time with a creative resume that looks impeccable but has fluff for content. Employers still want to see exactly what you have to offer, what you’ve accomplished in your career, and why you’d be a good fit for the company. Being able to create a fancy video or turn your skills into a list of ingredients may not be enough. Videos should be professional, high-quality, and free from distractions. You don’t want an employer more focused on your dog barking in the background or the college photo collage on your wall than what you’re saying.

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Not every job lends itself to creativity. If you’re applying to be an accountant or a lawyer, chances are good that you’re better off with a traditional resume. Before you start reinventing the wheel, know your audience and make sure a creative approach would be appropriate. Save the fancy resumes for jobs in entertainment, media, or design, or companies such as Google that are geared toward innovation.

Have a standard resume on hand. Even if you make a creative resume, have a standard version available. Some companies still want to see what you have to offer in a straight-forward manner that they can quickly review and enter into their database. And most likely, your creative resume is a once-and-done deal. It’s only applicable to a specific position at a specific company because it is so customized. You’ll still need something to apply to other jobs or hand out while networking.

Creative resumes do work for some people, but you must do your research and really focus on hitting key information and presenting it in a way that will grab an employer’s attention for the right reasons while also exemplifying your skills, qualifications, and potential. For the typical job seeker, a traditional resume – when properly developed – will work just fine.

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