Everyone wants to stand out as the ideal candidate in this oversaturated job market and some may be considering taking a chance on an unconventional or creative resume. When done correctly in the appropriate manner a creative resume can set you apart by highlighting your ability to think outside the box, your innovative spirit, and your willingness to take a risk – all qualities that may appeal to a hiring manager. Before you take a chance on a non-traditional resume make sure that your efforts will be appreciated by doing your research on the company to which you are applying in order to ensure that your attempt is suitable.
If you ask any hiring manager, I can bet that each and every one will have a story about the job candidate that stood out in a good way and the candidate that stood out in a bad way. All will have encountered a valiant effort by a creative applicant, the majority of which will have crashed and burned in the attempt. There are far fewer success stories in submitting a nontraditional resume than there are failures. The reason? Many who take a shot at standing out have no idea what they need to do to stand out in the first place. Their attempt reeks of desperation and overzealousness. They do succeed in standing out from the crowd, only not in the way they were hoping. Don’t be the candidate that becomes the laugh of the day for the HR office.
There are some guidelines you should follow if you are thinking about using a non-traditional resume.
Creativity counts for creative jobs. Graphic design, artists, marketing, advertising, website design – these are all occupations where a creative applicant would be better received then say, banking, medical, or engineering. However, I did hear about an individual who applied at a pizza restaurant with their resume printed inside of a pizza box. So, I guess there are exceptions for every rule.
A creative resume won’t disguise a lack of substance. Have you heard the saying, “It’s like putting lipstick on a pig.”? You can dress it up all you want but it’s still a pig. The same holds true for your resume. It doesn’t matter how much creativity you pour into your resume; if the content is weak, it won’t matter.
It’s all in the presentation. Simply submitting a creative resume is not enough; it needs to be a well thought out effort. No hiring manager will appreciate being ambushed in the parking lot and having a resume thrust at them; you think it shows your take charge attitude, they think it shows you’re a stalker. How about your resume on a cake? Perfect if you are applying at a bakery, not so perfect elsewhere.
Here are a few examples I found online of candidates taking a risk when applying for a job:
- Hand delivering a goldfish in a bowl with resume information on the bowl.
- Writing a resume on butcher paper in crayon.
- Sending a life size photo of themselves.
- Taking out a billboard that says – Hire Me!
- Walking around with a t-shirt on that says hire me with information listed.
- A resume written on the sides of a box (to show how they can think outside the box).
- Attaching a resume to a shoe – to get their foot in the door.
What works for one candidate won’t necessarily work for another, and what is appreciated by one hiring manager may not be well received by other hiring managers. It’s hard to know your audience and impossible to know what tactic will work and what won’t. When a creative resume is successful at landing a candidate a job they may be quick to attribute the success to their unconventional efforts in applying for the job. But even after getting the attention of the hiring manager it still comes down to your skills and experience. The resume gets you the interview – you get yourself the job.
A creative resume can make a hiring manager sit up and take notice.
Taking an avant-garde approach to your resume requires confidence that you need to back up authenticity.
by Megan Koehler