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3 Common Blunders of Creative Resumes

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You aren’t average, so why should you apply just like everyone else?

You eat ice cream with a fork. You go skydiving on weeknights to relax after a hard day at work. You don’t fit within a box, so you’ll be damned if you’re going to submit a resume just like the other sheep… err, job candidates.

Used well, a creative resume can really give you an edge over the competition. Creative resumes show you’re an outside-the-box thinker and a creative problem-solver. These are all sought-out traits in potential employees, especially since the problems modern companies are facing seem to solicit especially creative solutions.

Feeling pretty good about yourself and your creative resume? Don’t get too complacent. The truth is, for all the benefits creative resumes afford, they have just as many pitfalls. Truly creative resumes are a new frontier, and we all know those come with as many risks as rewards.

Knowing the major blunders will keep you from making the wrong impression. So here are some common traps less-savvy job seekers fall into when getting creative with their resume:

1. Forgetting your industry

Despite what the internet might tell you, creative resumes aren’t the right fit for every position. If you make a stellar infographic resume to get a job in the visual arts field, you’re well on your way to career bliss. Using this type of resume shows off your job-specific skills in both a creative and practical way. It makes sense.

But submitting a beautiful infographic resume for a job as an accountant will probably be less effective. It might be visually striking, but how many accountants do you know who need graphic design skills to crunch numbers? Forgetting to tailor your creative approach to your industry means hiring managers are more likely to roll their eyes, when you actually want them to be blown away.

2. Thinking creativity will mask sloppiness

You’re truly impressed with your idea of making a video resume. You can’t imagine how the moving images of your video will fail to wow hiring managers. In fact, you’re so impressed with your own stroke of genius, you’ve put zero effort into the information about yourself and your experience you’re sharing with that manager.

Spoiler alert: hiring managers and recruiters aren’t impressed merely because you’ve thought of something creative. They’ve been around the block a few times. They’re not going to hire you on the spot just because you’ve recorded a video resume. Plenty of other job seekers have had the same stroke of genius. And those job seekers probably realized video resumes have to be just as polished and professional as their paper counterparts.

Don’t expect your flashy method of delivery will make up for a lack of content. It won’t.

3. Skimping on relevant information

Some candidates see resumes that list work experience and job titles as a thing of the past. So instead of focusing on experience, these candidates focus on their skills and accomplishments. It’s a good way to personalize your skills and make yourself more than a list of dates and titles.

So what could go wrong? Plenty! Sometimes these resumes can make your accomplishments seem out of context. It’s important for employers to know not just how you’ve achieved something, but in what setting. Without proper context—and especially if you exclude dates entirely—employers might side-eye these resumes, wondering whether you’re hiding something.

Make sure to properly ground your accomplishments in your work or educational settings. Don’t skimp on the information employers need to understand how impressive you are.

What mistakes do you notice with creative resumes? How can we avoid them?

Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video-powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

Brazen powers real-time, online events for leading organizations around the world. Our lifestyle and career blog, Brazen Life, offers fun and edgy ideas for ambitious professionals navigating the changing world of work.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1587203207 Erica Lane

    I think that the same advice holds well to freelancers and consultants when trying to land a new client or contract. People that are going to pay you to do a job even in the short term want to know that you are worth it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=548723407 Jacob Madsen

      I agree, though I rarely lead with my resume when looking for freelance work. It makes sense to send samples or mailers that demonstrate skill or accomplishments and make a resume available as needed. I generally have mine easily accessible from my website.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=906431 Jason Unger

    Hey, as long as you don’t end up like this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_aM_UiHeFM.

    Then again, he did get pretty Internet famous for his ridiculous resume.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=916574 Dana Leavy-Detrick

    Agree with Jacob that in the creative fields, it’s going to be about work samples that show what you can do. But no matter what you’re applying to, if you’re keen on using a “creative resume” (which by the way, doesn’t seem to be defined in here as anything other than an infographic), you have to remember that your first line of defense is likely to be HR. And the person in HR is looking for specifics – words, experiences, accomplishments – things they can use to sell you to the hiring manager. So they might not be impressed with creativity as much as the Creative Director, and they won’t be impressed at all if your branding message is lost in a sea of unnecessary graphics and fanciness.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1646566925 Peter LeBaux Lemeššanyi

    well written, josh :)