How Creative Should You Get With Your Resume?

How creative should you get with your resume?

After six years of recruiting, I’ve seen people submit their resumes in lots of different ways. I’ve seen them submitted online, emailed, snail mailed, sent on a flash drive, sent on a t-shirt, sent with a dress, with a shoe; the list goes on… There are a lot of articles out there talking about differentiating yourself in the hiring process and it begs the question: When submitting your resume, how creative should you really get?

Here are a few articles to get you familiar with the type of resume submissions I’m referring to:

1. 23 Cool Resumes we found on Instagram

2. 11 Crazy Stunts People Have Pulled Off to Get Hired

In terms of the first article, these are mostly nicely formatted resumes (many in infographic style) and then a few pretty out of the box ones (i.e. the origami resume).  The second article is more focused on crazy, out-of-the-box ideas, that actually worked.

Here’s my stance on creative resumes—proceed with caution:

The infographic/heavily designed resume—if you are a graphic design pro, go for it. A really cool, original resume in terms of formatting can be fun to get and catch a recruiter’s eye. However, this is only going to work if you are emailing your resume to someone. If you are applying online, chances are that your resume is going into a database and that database is looking for keywords and just the content. If your resume is in a format where the system can’t get that out, your pretty resume will turn into a bunch of jumbled letters and numbers that make absolutely no sense (and will likely be thrown out). So if you’re going to take this route, make sure you have a regular Word version as well for applying online. Trust me, I’ve seen this backfire.

The “I’m-going-to-send-my-resume-printed-on-something-that’s-not-paper” route—Especially recruiting for fashion jobs, this is one that pops up a lot. While the origami resume is pretty cool and would definitely get the team talking, I always wonder if it’s in a good way or bad way. When it comes to people assessing your skills (and level of professionalism and judgement) the “all press is good press” saying does not apply. I have to say, unless you do this in the most careful, specific way and align your item with the company’s culture and business, this is not a good idea. Based on all the resume t-shirts and shoes I’ve gotten, I’ll say that they will get you noticed, but not in the way you want.

The billboard/website/interactive video route—I mean… apparently this works (at least for the people in that article), but I’ve never seen it work firsthand. I know taking risks does pay off, but in my mind, when a company asks for you to submit a resume in a certain way, submit it in that way. To get it seen, network!

If you really feel you must submit a super creative, out-of-the-box resume, here are a few parameters:

Make sure it’s brand appropriate—Submitting your creative hack to Google or a portfolio of your work to a fashion house probably is brand-appropriate. However, look beyond that. Is what you created a brand-fit? In the fashion/retail world, it’s important that not only do you have the technical skills to create something, but also that it feels in line with what you’d be asked to create on the job.

Make sure it is really, really good—Doing this is a risky move, so if you are going to take the risk, my advice is to give it 110 percent. Anything less, is likely going to work against you, not for you (i.e. a video resume that does not look professionally-filmed/edited). Don’t get sloppy here.

Also apply the traditional way—Being creative is good, but following directions is also pretty important to lots of employers. Make sure in addition to your creative application, you apply in the way the company is asking you to.

So, bottom line… I think under most circumstances these tactics will get you some attention—but not always the kind you want. When it comes to put extra effort into applications, I’d recommend putting it into skill-building and networking. For most jobs, no matter how cool your application is, you still need the skills to do the job, and a good endorsement weighs the most out of anything (and is the safest!).


This article was originally published on The Prepary

Jaime Petkanics

Jaime Petkanics is the writer behind, an online resource which provides advice on all aspects of the job search. A former recruiter, Jaime answers questions ranging from how to write a great resume, to how to answer interview questions, and everything in between.