Do Creative Resumes Work?

Lets me be honest. Over the years in my recruitment career, I have seen thousands of resumes. One of the most common questions I am asked is “Do Creative Resumes Work?”

I appreciate that people do heavy preparation before applying for jobs, but when some people try to be too creative, I can see right through the dressed-up content. Having said that, a little enhancement or smart highlights can work wonders, but there are a few things you should avoid.

  1. Up yourself too much – It’s not that you aren’t worthy, but let your experience speak for itself. Hiring managers look for solid facts. Do not fake your job titles, descriptions, responsibilities or achievements. Putting yourself as Director in your previous job but applying for an entry-level financial analyst or calling yourself Technical Pioneer will put someone off or give you an unwanted air of arrogant. Also, don’t forget once you get to the interview room, you’ll be asked to describe what your previous jobs entailed, so be sure you have something to offer and back what you put on your resume
  2. 600+ too many – A lot of people make a resume and distribute it to every job opening they see. In reality, your resume should tweak your past jobs to highlight the applicable experiences from each for the position being applied. Just imagine if you would put the identical content to apply for a clerk position at a small family owned consulting business or a PA role for Gail Kelly, the CEO of Westpac. More importantly, if you do not hear from anyone after sending 20 CVs out, please do review your whole application process and tools. You must find out why you are getting nowhere before you completely exhaust all the suitable openings in the market.
  3. Pointless creativity – While you want your CV to stand out from the rest of the pack,  content is king and I don’t think this will ever change. Using fancy design, a combination of large and small font sizes and styles, or adding a chart isn’t as effective as simply outlining stories of your success in the past. Too many colours, fonts, graphics will only work against you. For most of my audiences, you probably are not an artist or graphic designer, nor will you be seeking employment in entertainment industry. Please showcase your artwork elsewhere.
  4. Don’t play hide and seek – Ten seconds of initial screening is more than enough to review any resume. If you make the cut, you will get the chance for another review. That’s why your core competencies and value proposition must be shown properly at the right place for the crucial first impression. Once that is done, there will be no second chances.  Also, please remember to use a reasonably large black font to make it easy to to read in general; otherwise your CV will go straight to the bin.
  5. Be consistent – If you call yourself a detail oriented person with advanced knowledge in Microsoft Word but there are spelling mistakes in your resume, you will look very foolish. Remember, do what you say and say what you do.

I hope you enjoy the above tips. If you apply them diligently, I guarantee you have moved yourself closer to the top of the pile. 

Trilingual Career Coach & Recruiter with experience across Europe and Asia Pacific. She is also a speaker for workshops on resume writing, job searching tips, and interview techniques. She travels frequently but you can stay in touch with Eleanor via

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