You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
While you may think of this adage while preparing for your next interview, how often do you think about it when submitting your CV or resume to a potential client or employer?
The average length of time someone will look at your resume is about 5-8 seconds. That means you need a way to grab their attention quickly. Now, imagine competing with hundreds of other applicants for that same opportunity. As you might have guessed, the chances of getting noticed are reduced even more.
So how do you tackle this problem? How do you get your resume to stand out above all the rest? One way is by submitting a creative resume.
What Is a Creative Resume
A creative resume is one that steps away from the traditional, text-only resume and instead adds creative elements into the mix. This can be anything from interactivity, videos, infographics, and even things like custom chocolates and candy wrappers – although I don’t recommend those last two.
With a creative resume, the sky is the limit; you’re only capped by your imagination. Well, that and whether or not you really want that job.
Many recruiters and potential clients and employers may not appreciate a creative resume. If the important details get lost in the design, it’s not going to fare well for you. In fact, if you’re going to use a creative resume, it’s important to understand where they’ll work, and more importantly, where they won’t.
That said, you need to tailor your resume to the type of job you want. For example, you’re likely not going to send a creative resume if you’re applying for a job as a court clerk or a delivery driver. However, if you’re applying for the Creative Lead position at the local publishing house, it might just be the perfect opportunity to show off your design skills.
So with that in mind, let’s take a look at some examples of creative resume designs to help give you an idea of what’s out there, and what can be done. We’ll also give you some guidance on which industries will work best for a particular design choice.
Creative Resume Examples
Unique Resume / Joe Kelso
This unique resume, created by Joe Kelso in 2007, will surely turn heads. When asked about it in an interview, Joe revealed that it was his secret weapon to getting noticed. In fact, it was so effective that he was often called in for interviews in which he wasn’t a perfect match.
Industry: Media. Entertainment. Design.
Interactive & Fun / Robby Leonardi
If you’re looking for a fun resume idea, check out Robby Leonardi’s interactive resume. Robby’s resume, which looks a lot like a video game, takes you on a journey through his experiences by allowing you to control the player using your mouse or keyboard. When you make it to the end of the game, you’re rewarded with an opportunity to send Robby a message.
Industry: Animation. Design. Game / Web Development.
Simple Creative / Chen Zhi Liang
Infographics are all the rage these days, and it’s no surprise that they made their way into the resume design space. In this simple creative CV, Chen Zhi Liang makes use of them to highlight his skills, and I think he nailed it.
Industry: Design. Development.
Amazing / Joseph Acena
Another resume that uses infographics to highlight skills and other areas of interest is this amazing resume by Joseph Acena. The only issue I have with this one is related to the placement of the contact information – it’s a little hard to spot – but otherwise this is a brilliant looking resume.
Industry: Education. Publishing.
Artistic / María Camila Soto
María Camila Soto shows off her skills and her personality with her artistic resume. There’s just something about the hand-drawn look that I love.
Industry: Design. Art. Illustration.
Interesting / Gloria Edith Escalera Manzano
Gloria’s resume is the most interesting resume on the list. Although she created it for a school project, she clearly gave it a lot of thought, and I think she has something special here.
Industry: Design. Art. Illustration. Children’s Book Publishing.
Beautiful / Stuart Mayhew
This beautiful resume by Stuart Mayhew uses a single accent color to highlight the important bits of information. The font choice is also brilliant. Many people forgot how important readability is when they focus too much on the flashy design elements. Stuart clearly did not.
Industry: Design. Marketing.
Designer / Anton Yermolov
Anton Yermolov created this elegant designer resume in which he also uses infographics to highlight his skills. This simple design reminds me of something I might see in a magazine, and it certainly caught my attention.
Industry: Design. Development. Print Media.
Creative Marketing / Mathew Lynch
Although there’s not much room for, well anything, Mathew Lynch sure knows how to ask for what he wants! With his creative marketing resume, there’s no question about what he’s after. The fantastic typography alone will surely draw some attention.
Industry: Publishing. Development. Design.
Awesome / Jimmy Raheriarisoa
Jimmy Raheriarisoa’s awesome resume is two-color, noir perfection! It’s simple, elegant, fun, and best of all… his skills are up-front-and-center. I’d call him in for an interview in a heartbeat.
Industry: Publishing. Media. Art. Entertainment.
Innovative / Paula Del Mas
This innovative resume comes from Paula Del Mas, which she created as a way to promote her skills as a graphic designer. Technically more of a portfolio than a resume, Paula spent a lot of time designing this thing. She looked at every aspect of this book, including cover design and font selection, and put into it only things that would highlight her abilities.
Industry: Design. Publishing.
Creative / Lim Zhiyang
Lim Zhiyang uses infographics to highlight his skills and general interests in this fantastically fun and creative resume. A resume like this is great when you have skills, but not a lot of experience.
Industry: Design. Development. Illustration.
Cool / Francesco Rivieccio
Francesco’s cool resume gives us a look at the anatomy of a creative professional. His resume highlights his skills in a way that I’ve not seen before. If I were recruiting for new creative talent, Francesco would make it on the list, for sure!
Industry: Design. Illustration. Publishing. Gaming.
Creative / Allison Brunton
This creative resume by Allison Brunton reminds me of a technicolor version of Jimmy Raheriarisoa’s resume (#10). The important information is easy-to-find and the use of infographics brings things together nicely.
Industry: Design. Creative Arts.
Creative Genius / Rebecca Fisk
When I first saw Rebecca Fisk’s creative cv I was immediately reminded of those old Pantone color-chips from back in the day. While I’m not sure how practical of a cv this is, it’ll absolutely make a lasting first impression.
Industry: Creative. Design.
Creative Resume Design Tips
Now that you’ve seen some creative resume examples, you might decide to make one of your own. Before you do, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Choose legible fonts. One of the most important tips is font selection. Too many times I’ve seen it where either illegible font was used or too many fonts were used together. The basic rule here is keep it simple, keep it clean. Don’t select crazy fonts just because they’re available.
- Keep your contact information easy-to-spot. This should go without saying, but when your contact information is more difficult to find than the ark of the covenant, no one – not even Indiana Jones – will find you. If you want people to contact you, make sure you make it easy for them to do so: don’t hide your contact information behind a terrible design.
- Include important information, but keep it brief. If the average read-time is about 6-8 seconds to determine whether or not you’ll be getting a call, then imagine how much time is spent reading the rest of your resume. That said, keep it clear and concise. Don’t include irrelevant information, and don’t use big words when smaller ones will do.
- Let your personality show. Be creative. Let your resume speak to your personality. While my own resume isn’t exactly “creative” – I use a traditional style – my personality still comes through. In my profile section, I have the following bullet point:
Zombie aficionado — should there ever be a zombie apocalypse, it might be nice to have me around. Just sayin’.
- Use infographics to highlight your skills. Infographics can play a huge part in making a resume stand out, but it’s important to understand what infographics are, and how to make them work. Otherwise, you run the risk of having your resume look like a photo collage put together by a second-grader.
Creative Resume Templates
If you’re not keen on designing your own creative resume, you might consider starting with a template. A word of caution, though… with a template, you run the risk of not being original. However, resume templates do offer a good starting point.
Here are a few to help get you started:
the TRUE SCOUT
$99.00 USD: Get it here
This template offers a nice balance between traditional and creative. The important information is easy-to-spot, and the color and font selection are spot on.
Resume Template by Abdullah Al Mamun
Free: Get it here
This is another simple design being offered as a free download by Abdullah Al Mamu. The design comes in four colors and can easily be customized to meet your needs. If you’re looking for something free and simple, this is your best bet.
Clean CV Resume
Flat Resume with Infographics
$12 USD: Get it here
If you’re looking for an entry-level infographics format, this one by Creative Graphics is simple, flat, and fully customizable. However, you’ll need Adobe Illustrator for this one.
$15 USD: Get it here
A solid choice in my book is this one by Whitegraphic. It features both a light and dark style, and it uses free fonts and comes in two formats: .psd and .ai.
There are tons of templates online. Some are free, some are not. The best advice I can give, go with what speaks to you and your personality. Just keep in mind where it is you’re sending it.
Creative resumes aren’t for everyone, and they’re certainly not for every type of job – but they do have their place, and they can be an effective tool when you’re looking for new opportunities. Just keep things tame!
Bottom line: just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Creative resumes do have the potential to get you noticed, but you want to make sure that you’re being noticed in a good way, and for the right reasons.
About the Author
Tammy Coron is an independent creative professional and the host of Roundabout: Creative Chaos. She’s also the co-founder of Day Of The Indie, the organizer behind Indie DevStock, and the founder of Just Write Code. Find out more at TammyCoron.com.