Creative Resumes (With Examples)

By Chris Kolmar - Nov. 25, 2020
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When most people hear the term “resume,” they picture a neat, single page typed resume that lists skills and experience in bullet-point form. While this format of explaining one’s professional abilities is the most common, many people choose to use a creative resume instead.

Creative resumes allow candidates the room to customize their profile in a way that paints a vivid and enticing picture of them. It encourages more free-thought and puts an applicant’s skills on display before ever walking into an interview.

What Is a Creative Resume?

Creative resumes utilize the space for catching an employer’s eye by being unconventional while still getting across the information about their professional profile. This can differ from the traditional text style resume dramatically.

The purpose of a creative resume is to showcase your personality and summarize your skills in a way that makes you stand out from the crowd of your competition for a position. Creating a creative resume can be especially useful for people who work in the arts who depend primarily on showing their abilities, rather than be just another candidate who tells.

How Creative Resumes Work

How a creative resume works vary based upon the person creating it. The whole point of choosing the alternative option of a creative resume in place of a classic one is to display what makes you a distinctive candidate. You have to tailor the resume to portray your skills accurately. It emphasizes an applicant’s creativity and demonstrates that they’re up to the task of handling the job.

A creative resume can be something as simple as implementing color patterns, bold text boxes, or playing around with spacing and margins. Even doing minor changes to the typical format of a resume will make a hiring manager remember you. If you’re looking for a reference about where to start, do some research into examples of creative resumes.

People who work in the arts may also incorporate their niche into the performance of their skills. For example, if you work as a video editor, a more impactful structure could be in the form of editing together clips from your reel into a video resume. This shows a potential employer clearly that you’re qualified and resourceful.

Alternatively, for people who work in a field like website coding, a strong presentation could be coding a resume website. This will draw a hiring manager into what you have to say because your experience jumps off the page more than if they were reading from a list of hard skills.

Pros of Creative Resumes

There are a few key benefits to opting for a creative resume for a job seeker.

  1. Clearly demonstrates your skills. While traditional resumes commonly use a skills section to make note of your strong suits in the industry, a creative resume puts this on display in a very blatant way. It gets right to the point of where your experience level is and makes it a lot easier for a potential employer to see if you’re a good candidate for the position they’re looking to fill.

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  2. It makes your resume stand out. It’s difficult to make yourself appear unique when there are a lot of other people competing for the same role. Even if you have the skills to fulfill the duties of a particular job successfully, this information can easily get lost in the chaos of many applicants. Using a creative resume lessens the chances that you’ll be overlooked when words on the pages of resumes begin to blend together for a hiring manager.

  3. It gives a positive first impression. Before ever reading a word about your background, your resume’s look will influence a hiring manager. This may not even be intentional on the employer’s part, but rather, human instinct to gather first impressions from what we see. Creative resumes tend to be more visually attractive than the standard words on a page. This can positively impact a potential employer’s perception of you before getting to your qualifications.

  4. Highlights your creativity. Your resume is an opportunity to make an impression on a possible employer that could boost your career. If you’re involved in a vocation based in the arts, like writing or design, hiring managers in your field will be the most interested in applicants who capture their attention with creativity. Curating a nontraditional resume to fit your field is a great way to highlight your creative ideas.

Cons of Creative Resumes

Even though using a creative format for your resume can have some compelling pros, it can also present some challenges.

  1. Some employers don’t appreciate it. While the goal of a creative resume is to wow a hiring manager, sometimes this reaction of surprise won’t be a positive one. Creative resumes are growing increasingly popular in artistic positions. However, a lot of jobs still want a traditional resume for applicants they’re considering.

    In many industries, presenting a creative resume in hopes of landing a position would be considered unprofessional.

  2. It neglects to account for buzzwords. Keywords are an essential consideration to make when deciding how you’d like to format your resume. A creative resume can present limitations in terms of including keywords. This means that although your creative resume may be very innovative, it probably won’t pass a company’s Applicant Tracking System (ATS), which is the test that scans resumes for skills required to work in a specific position.

    The ATS cannot work with anything other than typed, word-based resumes, making it difficult to surpass if your creative resume is in another form.

  3. It can seem like overkill. Creative resumes can definitely be attention grabbers, but once this objective is achieved, many employers may view extra graphics or color in it as overkill. While you want to have a hiring manager’s focus, you don’t want it to be on how outrageous your resume is. Being nontraditional can have pay-offs, but it can quickly become overdramatic.

Is Using a Creative Resume Worth It?

Deciding whether to format your resume traditionally or creatively can be challenging for many job-seekers. It doesn’t have to be a difficult decision, though. You should consider the position you’re seeking, your experience level, and what’s appropriate for the industry you work in.

For someone whose job and skills are based mainly in visual arts that can be more easily shown than told, making a creative resume may be worth it.

Alternatively, a person whose career is in administration probably won’t receive many interviews calls from going the non-traditional route.

You should also think about if your abilities are strong enough to be showcased in such an unconventional way. If you’re a recent graduate in graphic design without any professional experience in the field, a creative resume that accomplishes the goal of informing an employer about you may be a more difficult task to achieve.

Examples of Creative Resumes

  1. A unique layout. The layout of a resume might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re thinking about how to get creative. However, if you work in a job that leans towards more traditional styles, this can be a great way to capture attention without compromising professionalism. Play around with where your resume sections go on the page, how large certain texts are, and where colorful patterns can fit in.

    If you don’t like something, you can always go back and change it. But, you might stumble across a look for your resume that’s showstopping.

  2. Video resume. A video resume can mean a few different things. For people who work in film, it will act as more of a reel to show all the work they’ve done thus far in their career. However, for people working outside of film looking to record a video resume for a different job, it can function a little differently.

    In this situation, the applicant will record themselves speaking about their skills, experience, and passion for their work. A video resume in this context is used to develop a personal connection with the audience, almost like a pre-interview speech without any questions.

  3. Implement unique graphics. Consider what graphics you could use to take your resume to the next level. The graphics that you choose to implement in your resume should be relevant to your career and the job you’re applying for.

    For example, an employee who works as a video game designer may want to structure their resume in this same style. Either by implementing levels for different sections, displaying pictures of characters from past work, or finding any other unique way to tell their professional story while incorporating the creativity of their job.

  4. Infographic resume. You can take the use of graphics within your resume a step further by structuring it around being an infographic. Infographics are a subset of creative resumes in which the candidate demonstrates their past accomplishments and abilities using detailed and informative graphics.

    Infographic resumes often have a more appealing and fun tone to them. It’s brighter and more innovative than a simple text resume. This kind of creative resume aims to get the information across in a more visually pleasing way.

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Chris Kolmar


Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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