Recently I exchanged emails with a friend managing a new hire process for his company. “I’ve looked at enough resumes the last few weeks to last me a lifetime,” he wrote. Any candidate applying for a job in today’s market has to compete with up to hundreds of other applicants. How can job seekers possibly capture a recruiter’s attention when all resumes look the same?
While there are plenty of subtle ways to make a resume stand out, some job seekers have gone above and beyond active verbs, quantifiable achievements, and proper resume keyword selections. Here are six of the most creative resumes to ever make headlines—and what you should learn from them.
1. The job: A position with Google.
The resume: The candidate, Eric, laid out his qualifications and experience to look like Google search results.
The result? Eric didn’t get the Google job he sought, but his resume’s creative formatting did land him an interview and quite a bit of online recognition!
The lesson? According to Business Insider, the job he applied for was in Google’s marketing division. However, his resume featured the skills and experiences of a design professional. Having an eye-catching resume format is important, but tailoring each application you submit is crucial.
Enlist the help of Jobscan with the tailoring process—our resume analysis tool identifies the important keywords in a job description for you to help you optimize your resume!
2. The job: An internal position at Zappos.
The resume: A red velvet cake professionally made to reflect one of Zappos’ core values: “be adventurous, creative, and open-minded.”
The result? The edible resume Pua, a Zappos customer loyalty team rep, sent in place of paper worked: she was selected for the position.
The lesson? As many an event organizer will tell you, food does make a difference in getting people excited about something. However, the cake resume likely worked in large part because of the applicant’s existing knowledge of the company’s values and her familiarity with internal staff. Researching employers you want to work for is a key part of the job search process.
3. The job: The applicant’s first position following college.
The resume: The candidate, Melissa, printed her resume on white fabric and sewed copies to a variety of patterned fabrics.
The result? Using the fabric resumes did indeed land Melissa the job she was pursuing.
The lesson? Melissa chose this creative resume format because she wanted it to “really represent not only my design skills, but my affection for sewing and including handmade elements.” This thought process shows excellent awareness of what prospective employers in her industry were looking for. Just be sure that when creating and submitting resumes, you focus more on what an employer needs rather than your personal goals.
4. The jobs: Positions with various marketing firms.
The resume: A chocolate bar with the candidate’s profile information as “ingredients” and “nutrition facts.”
The result? The candidate, Nick, was offered two jobs in three months because of his sweet resume choice.
The lesson? This candidate clearly knew his target industry well, demonstrating his knowledge that marketing extends past products and into more intangible concepts like productivity. If you do use a non-traditional resume, make sure it’s appropriate for the job you’re seeking. “Think about the best way to highlight your skills for the position, and don’t hide a lack of experience behind a cool, out-of-the-box format,” writes HR pro Angela Smith at The Muse.
5. The job: Any full-time position job seeker Kelly could use to support her family.
The resume: A t-shirt with the candidate’s resume on the front and cover letter on the reverse side.
The result? Although the story of Kelly’s resume t-shirt was covered on major news networks, there’s a lack of follow-up reporting. Her bold job seeking strategy was highlighted in 2008.
The lesson? When an applicant uses an off-the-beaten-path resume and it goes viral, she or he may not receive the type of recognition they intended. The Today Show didn’t pull punches on the topic: “trying a crazy trick to get attention may even hurt your chances of landing a really good job, with an employer you want to work for.” If you want to use a creative resume, think carefully about how it will come across. A shirt emblazoned with “I need a job!” conveys desperation for any job, when what employers really want is someone who would be a great fit for a specific role.
6. The job: Work in computer programming.
The resume: An interactive, animated resume taking inspiration from Super Mario Brothers!
The result? The candidate, Robby, created a finished resume product so strikingly different and of such high quality that news coverage centered around showcasing the work itself. “We’re pretty sure…he landed a job offer or 50,” according to Forbes.
The lesson? If you’re considering a creative resume, don’t just go for the zaniest idea you can come up with—come up with an idea that clearly showcases your strengths.
Creative resumes can be effective when used thoughtfully. Just make sure yours is right for your target industry, skills, and the specific job you want!