The question, “How creative can I be with my résumé” and “How much is too much” comes up quite often in my conversations with students. As much I’d like to give a simple answer – it’s just not that black and white. Just as there are differences in thought regarding “standard” résumés, the same holds true for résumés that are thought to be outside of the box. A good example of an ongoing résumé debate has to do with the objective statement. Some hiring managers and recruiters like them and others not so much. Will everyone ever agree completely on what makes the perfect résumé? Probably not, but I can offer some basic tips when deciding how unique and creative you want to be with your résumé:
1. First and foremost, think about your industry. While a unique looking résumé might make sense for a Graphic Design job, it most likely will not appeal to someone in the Finance industry.
2. Ok, so you thought about the industry, now you have to consider the specific company. You can tell a lot from a company’s website. Start by researching the company online and looking for indicators that they are unique in some way. Is it a large company with very specific policies and a full Human Resources Department, or a local startup design company looking for fresh ideas? Gauge the culture of the company by doing research and seeking out possible contacts (alumni perhaps) to determine what helps get you in the door.
3. Why pick one? In this I mean, why pick one version of your résumé? Consider sending in two versions of your résumé. If you are emailing it to a contact at a company, give the reader the option to choose which one they’d like to look at. The time and effort you put into submitting your credentials will definitely stand out too.
4. Keep it clean and professional; it doesn’t matter the industry – you still need to come across as an individual with good character and an employee that others want to work with.
5. But really, how creative can you get? Here are some examples from job seekers who created unique résumés. What would you think if you received one of these?