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Show Off Your Artistic Skills with a Creative Resume

A woman working on her resume.
Andrey Bondarets/Shutterstock

Looking for a creative job? If so, it might be time to ditch your boring old resume for one that actually shows off your skills.

Most resumes are required to meet certain mundane standards. Employers want to quickly learn about you without the distraction of a lot of bells and whistles. In creative fields, though, your resume’s design offers yet another way to show off what you can do. Why ignore this prime opportunity?

You should still use a design that suits your field and know when it’s best to stick to a more traditional format. Let’s take an in-depth look at how to use your resume to show off your creative skills in all the right ways.

When to Use a Creative Resume

You’ll only need a creative resume if you aspire to work in a creative field. And in some of those fields, a creative resume can be almost essential for getting the job.

However, what constitutes a “creative field” might surprise you. Obviously, artists and performers often benefit from using creative resumes. But so can people in seemingly traditional fields that still require creative talent, like marketing.

Consider a creative resume if your dream job involves:

  • Marketing/advertising
  • Graphic design
  • Theater/performance
  • Visual arts
  • Fashion

As you can see, creative resumes are a great choice for many industries that rely on visuals. Your resume is a visual document where you can show your ability to use images in unexpected, attention-grabbing ways.

However, the right resume choice will also depend on the type of company you’re applying to. For example, a trendy tech startup might appreciate a creative resume. But an old-school fashion house might be looking for a more traditional document. Research the company and use your judgment to decide how best to impress them.

The guidelines on a job description can also help you decide what kind of resume to use. If they specifically request something standard like a PDF with 12-point font, it’s best to stick to a traditional design. Finally, keep in mind that creative resumes might get automatically tossed by applicant tracking software.

Incorporate Some Creative Design Elements

A resume featuring icons and a photo of the job candidate.
Petr Vaclavek/Shutterstock

Once you’ve decided to make a creative resume, it’s time to get busy! Creative resumes can run the gamut from almost traditional to way out there. Some just involve adding a splash of color or an interesting infographic to a normal resume. Others totally break boundaries by looking nothing like the norm.

It’s up to you how extreme you get, but below are a few design elements you might want to experiment with:

  • Graphics and images: Symbols, infographics, photos, and other visual elements can make your resume really pop. You might want to create icons for each section of your resume to show off graphic design skills. If you’re an actor, you’ll likely want to include a professional headshot. Just make sure all graphics are high quality and don’t mess up the format of the rest of your resume. If you save your resume as a PDF, this will preserve all the formatting.
  • Color: This is a simple, but understated way to add a touch of creativity to a more traditional resume. Adding color to even the most creative designs will make it even more eye-catching. You can choose shades that reflect your personal brand, or even the colors of the company to which you’re applying. Just make sure they don’t affect the readability. For example, yellow on a white background never looks good.
  • Layout: You can use a unique layout for your entire resume. It can be designed as a map, a movie poster, a vintage ad, a social media site, and so on. If you can reflect something about the company or job description in the layout, you might just catch the eye of a busy hiring manager. For example, a resume that looks like a playbill would be perfect for a theater job.

Create a Media Resume

A Dynamic Resume Template on Prezi

If you want to take things up a notch, you can even use a format that goes beyond paper and create a version using your particular medium. However, keep in mind some hiring managers will balk at such an untraditional idea. If you go this route, it’s still a good idea to have a paper backup.

Below are a few common media forms of resumes:

  • Online: You can create an online-only resume with software like Prezi or on a resume-specific platform. This also allows you to include your portfolio along with your resume. You can then send the link to any prospective employers to showcase your skills. If sending a link isn’t practical, you can also sometimes save your resume as an image and send it that way.
  • Video: A video resume is another option, and it can be excellent when applying for positions that require public speaking. Keep it short and catchy, though—no one wants to watch a video about someone’s work accomplishments for more than a few minutes. When done well, a video resume can show off your skills better than any sheet of paper. In some fields, like acting, a video is an essential part of the job application.

What to Include on a Creative Resume

A woman editing her resume while holding a cell phone.
Jirapong Manustrong/Shutterstock

A good creative resume design can help get you an interview, but you can’t rely on design alone. No matter how you design your creative resume, the content is still what’s most important.

You need to make sure everything’s in a logical order, and that your essential information is easy to find. The creative design should enhance, not obscure, your information.

Make sure everything on your creative resume is relevant to the job you’re applying for, just like with a traditional resume. Put the most important information in a prominent place, like at the top of the page, and make sure your contact information is clear and easy to read.

And even with a creative resume, proofreading is essential. A creative design can’t hide spelling mistakes and typos. In fact, it might make them more obvious. Even the most daring and unusual resume should still be polished and professional.

Making a creative resume can help you get your dream job, but it will take longer than the more traditional formats, so try to stay focused.

Need some help updating your resume before you change its design? Here are some tips to help you get started.

Elyse Hauser Elyse Hauser
Elyse Hauser is a freelance and creative writer from the Pacific Northwest, and an MFA student at the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop. She specializes in lifestyle writing and creative nonfiction. Read Full Bio »
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