After submitting resume after resume and hearing nothing back, you might be considering a daring new approach. Maybe it’s time to ditch that trusty Microsoft Word resume template in favor of a bold, creative resume that won’t be missed and can’t be ignored.
Before you spend your weekend crafting your resume into a pizza box like Zvina Luke, be sure you know when an outside-the-box resume will bring positive attention and when it will eliminate you from consideration.
Creative Resumes are for Creative Industries
“This is the reason I love being a graphic designer,” writes Luke on her pizza box resume web page. “Our resume doesn’t have to be formal, and shouldn’t be limited in a piece of paper, in fact the more out of the box it is the better.”
A graphic designer’s qualifications include their design aesthetics, ideas, and ability to create. Whether they’re building something like Luke above or showing off their design chops like the examples below, the resume format is an extension of the resume itself.
If your creative resume doesn’t align with your position or industry, it could be dismissed as a gimmicky stunt.
Creative Resume vs. Applicant Tracking System
Even a talented graphic designer could design themselves right out of consideration without an understanding of how the application process works. Many companies utilize applicant tracking systems (ATS) to filter applicants. If you’re applying for a job online, you’re probably applying through an ATS. This poses a problem for anyone uploading a custom resume.
These examples of creative resumes by graphic designers Linda Yuki Nakanishi, Harrison Carter Watkins, and Hagan Blount will impress other artists and are effective in the right context, but they might not be ATS-friendly resumes. ATS scan the text of your resume for recognizable sections including your name, contact information, work experience, and hard skills. If the ATS can’t properly parse your resume, the hiring manager won’t find you when they search their pool of applicants.
Jobscan’s resume scanner parses your resume the same way an ATS would. Upload your custom creative resume to get a better understanding of how your resume looks through the eyes of an ATS.
Account for Company Size
Most large companies, including 99% of Fortune 500 companies, use an ATS. If a company uses an ATS, it is likely that the hiring manager will view the ATS applicant report generated from your resume rather than the original resume file you uploaded.
Furthermore, if you manage to hand-deliver an unconventional resume to a large company that uses an ATS, you risk the company rejecting your resume for not following protocol. If they accept your application, an employee might have to manually enter the information from your resume into the ATS. Neither scenario helps you get hired.
Small companies (under 50 employees) are less likely to use ATS and hiring managers are more accessible. A job seeker’s crafty resume is more likely to be seen and appreciated in a smaller environment.
Going Viral Isn’t the Goal, Employment Is
Earning attention for your creative resume might help open some doors, but going viral doesn’t guarantee a successful job search. Creative resumes and bold job hunting tactics provide good fodder for social media, blogs, and news outlets, but you still have to present yourself as the most qualified candidate for the job in order to turn 15 minutes of fame into a job offer.
Back in October 2016, a young marketing professional went viral for his daring strategy of posing as a Postmates delivery person and hand-delivering donuts that contained his resume to dozens of top Silicon Valley ad and tech firm CEOs. He was rewarded with at least 10 interviews, received public praise from some of the CEOs, and was covered by countless media outlets. But none of the news stories ended in a job offer.
You might be willing to do anything to get your foot in the door, but you’re better off sticking with convention unless your industry specifically rewards creative ambition. Your time will be better spent optimizing your resume. In most situations, tailoring your skills and experience to the job you want will help you stand out from the crowd more than any gimmick.
Read more about resume formats.