Do Creative Resumes Really Get You The Job?


Did you hear about the guy who made his resume into a chocolate bar (and was hired). His friend posted about it on Reddit and the story went viral.  Or, that guy who applied to Amazon by turning his resume into an Amazon product page, complete with shopping cart and ads? What about this first-of-its-kind video resume on Vine, an app that enables users to create and post six-second video clips for Twitter? Amazing, right?

In this digital age where QR Code resume threaten to make your embossed paper look lame and infographics rule the web, a multitude of companies have emerged to dust off the tired and boring from text resumes. Companies such as Vizualize Meand Loft Resumes can add a graphic spin, showcase your unique skills and personality, and optimize the visual appeal of your resume, but can they get you the job?

Well, not to be a downer, but for every article or social media blip that I see on how a “creative resume landed so-and-so the job” I have personally encountered fifty recruiters who have requested a more “traditional” format. Not knowing whether to take this as a personal slight, I sought the advice of real HR pros from a variety of industries to see if a creative resume can really put you at the top of the heap.

The consensus? No. No, a creative resume will not get you the job. In fact, it may actually cost you the interview and ensure that you never get called back.

You see, most large organizations process resumes through a computer program (an applicant tracking system) so a creatively formatted resume makes no impact. In fact, if the program cannot make sense of your experience as it parses through your information and cannot display it in a neat little “boxes”, it will mostly likely just throw it out, sight unseen. Even if your resume does make it to the desktop of an HR person or recruiter, it may not get the anticipated response.

“If the information isn't presented in an easily digestible format, the job seeker will hurt his/her chance to earn an interview,” said one Human Resources & Career Transition specialist. Another HR pro commented that he see creative resumes as “a trick… used by less competitive candidate”. Ouch!

However, there are exceptions to this advice. If you are applying to a smaller company where you are sure that your resume will be going directly to the decision makers or if you are pursuing a career in a creative field, like advertising, design, or gaming, then go for it. It would make perfect sense to offer a creative take on the mundane. However, if you are looking to work in IT, Finance, etc., then it is best to stick with the tried and true resume and cover letter.


According to Allen Wang, Co-Founder at JobAware:

“In the end, it's a combination of luck and guts. If you're gutsy enough to write a really “out there” resume and you've got the luck for it to get into the right hands, you'll likely get called back. In my opinion, if you think the company culture embraces it (it's pretty obvious when they do – example: Atlassian, write something crazy. If they company sounds serious, be safe and write a typical resume.”

In other words, use your best judgment about a company and its culture. Do a little research on the firm and find out who will actually see your resume. Then, be prepared to present yourself in a variety of ways. New-school HR and Career Development Professional from HR Uncovered, Ket Nolan offers this advice:

“Having a well-designed resume makes perfect sense if you can, in the design itself; communicate your expertise in this arena.  That is why I suggest that designers and creatives have two resumes – one standard, and one with some design elements”.

He goes on the say that Content is King!  Regardless of where you apply, always start by developing an accomplishment-focused, design-free resume.  This will ensure that you are focusing first-and-foremost on excellent content and skills that speak to the job (e.g. ROI, delivery-timelines, or customer satisfaction).  This exercise will also leave you with a version of your resume that will work well with automated screening systems, a big roadblock for designed resumes.

When was the last time you spruced up your resume? How will you tweak it to give you the best chance at employment based on these findings?

Image via Flickr

What do you think?

Do Creative Resumes Really Get You The Job?

Grace Duffy is a Dallas-based Digital Strategist and blogger with a passion for connecting people through technology-- be it to a goal, a solution, or simply with one another. She is a Principal and Co-Founder of Splash Creative Media. Her personal blog can be found a She is everywhere you tweet her name (@graceduffy) To learn more about Grace, you can find all of her links and social media profiles on ... More

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1 comment

  1. Marina says:

    Few years ago I updated my résumé. I usually stick to standard format on a resume paper.

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