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Traditional vs. creative resume?

There seems to be a trend, especially in the startup community, around a more creative resume than the traditional black and white one-pager you hand in to a massive HR department. I like the creative resume idea, but I wonder how applicable it is across the board when applying to jobs. Curious what hiring execs think of the creative resume? And if anyone uses a creative resume versus the more traditional formatting preferences?


10 Replies

Robinson Greig
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Robinson Greig Entrepreneur
User Experience Designer at Catalant Technologies
I switched to a 'creative' resume after my first internship in college. I never saw much of a difference in its effectiveness, and have since gone without a resume at all (leaning entirely on personal connections to find new gigs). I primarily work with startups, however, where personal recommendations trump just about any hiring tool.
Dorothy Waldt
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Dorothy Waldt Entrepreneur
Managing Director at DWC
I recommend sticking with a more traditional format. At the end of the day, a potential employers decide who they'd like to meet based on the responsibilities held and accomplishments achieved throughout a person's career. Creative resumes may look nice but can be a distraction to the reader plus you run the risk of turning a person off because their ideas of creative don't match yours.
Patty DeDominic
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Patty DeDominic Advisor
Chief Catalyst, Managing Partner at DeDominic & Associates (Also Chief Catalyst for Maui Mastermind and Exec Coach)
Joey Creative resumes are great for designers, writers, marketers and other creative people. I think the more important aspect of presenting yourself is a great cover letter and your key worded vitals on a resume which accurately shows your accomplishments, experience, education and potential. And put time into clarifying your ideal next job and investing in an upgraded personal/ professional network and Linked In. Good luck. Patty De Cell [removed to protect privacy]
Judi Wunderlich
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Judi Wunderlich Advisor
★ Co-Founder/VP at WunderLand ★ (judi@wunderlandgroup.com)
Creative or unusual resumes can work, but you still need a plain, traditional format for most positions. The problem with the unusual ones is that you risk possibly turning off the person who receives/reviews it, AND if the company uses an ATS (applicant tracking system), they need a plain text version to capture your information/skills. You just have to use good judgement and do a little research on your target to make sure they will appreciate the unusual.
Joshua Cole
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Joshua Cole Entrepreneur
Experienced leader in Financial Management, Customer Service, Consumer Collections
It all depends on the company. If its a start-up and you're fresh out of school I would go creative with elements of a traditional resume. Before you submit any resume; research the company and tailor it to what you believe they expect or looking for in a candidate.
Scott Crowe
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Scott Crowe Entrepreneur
Lead Recruiter at Canva
When you are considering what type of resume to put together, you should be considering your end market. I would place the emphasis on what will get you to the next stage. In the initial recruiter/HR screen, they are simply looking for enough to warrant the phone call. Don't rule yourself out on paper!

In terms of creative CV's I would say from personal experience that they are likely to get you further in the initial phase of the screening process, however, you need the capabilities to back it up later on in the process.
Charlie Anderson
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Charlie Anderson Entrepreneur
Boom Lab: Training, Mentoring, Consulting, Amazing.
I consider an applicant's resume to be their very first deliverable to our company. As with any other communication piece, it needs to demonstrate knowledge of the audience, clearly communicate the key messages, and hopefully achieve the desired outcome. The look and feel matters, too. If a candidate submits the same resume as everyone else, I'll assume they know the rules, follow them, and at least in this instance aren't thinking too strongly for themselves. But on the other hand, an over-designed resume makes me think the candidate insists on being different and is likely not to play nicely in the same sandbox as everyone else. Somewhere in the middle is the candidate who thinks critically about standards and forms, makes small changes that represent them professionally, and isn't afraid of calculated risks to deliver a high-quality product. That's the guy for me.
Taj Sateesh
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Taj Sateesh Entrepreneur
CEO at Sphinx Resources--The Preferred Recruitment Partners in Hi-Technology R&D & Manufacturing
It all depends for what sort of positions you are requesting resumes for Joey.

If it's for typical technical positions, then the traditional resume would be the best fit.......since the focus for such positions would be on the CONTENT & NOT the presentation & style.
In case you are hiring for positions like sales, creative designers, advertising, etc, then the creative resume would be 'nice-to-have'......since the presentation matters a lot along with the content. However, that doesn't really replace the traditional resumes.

Dorothy has a point when she mentioned 'Creative resumes may look nice but can be a distraction to the reader plus you run the risk of turning a person off because their ideas of creative don't match yours'. I face this situation quite often.....skipping creative resumes in-toto when I have other choices & look into them ONLY otherwise.

TS
Amy Vernon
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Amy Vernon Advisor
Audience Development. Community, content & product. Prize-winning journalist & writer. Connector of people & ideas.
Depends on the company. What I find works best is a simple, straightforward resume that's easy to read and bullet-points the best stuff you have.

Too many "creative" resumes bury the lede (news-speak), and it's hard to find it. If you're a designer or artist applying for a job, the creative resume may make more sense. But even the occasional creative resume that makes headlines does so because it very clearly outlines *why* this person is a good fit.

Looking good without getting to the point is annoying more than it is helpful.
Kathy Keating
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Kathy Keating Advisor
VP Software Engineering at AUTOPAY
It's more important to clearly articulate your SARs (Situation->Action->Outcome) on your resume. Your outcomes should be clearly quantifiable (e.g. increased traffic 20%, lowered defect rate 30%, etc).

As for creativity, I see a lot of really poorly formatted resumes and these do tell me something about the person. Its important to format your resume well, get rid of spelling/grammatical errors, make it clearly readable and use fonts/whitespace well. This is where creativity can come in.
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