Unconventional Resumes – DON’T DO IT!

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You’ve worked hard. Your education, your experience, your skills are right in line with the job you are applying for. You’ve created a clear and concise resume that accurately reflects this, but something’s missing. How do you make your resume stand out from the 500 other applicants? You are thinking about turning your resume into an infographic. Or, maybe a video or slideshare would work. What about an online or website resume?

These non-traditional or unconventional resume formats will showcase your personality and creative skills. They will show how internet and social media savvy you are. They show your inventiveness and are visually appealing. The amount of information you can provide could even be like a first interview without having the interview.




Two reasons: Annoying and Applicant Tracking Systems



Remember the 8 second rule? The human resources person or hiring manager reviewing your resume will glance at it at for 8 seconds to determine if they want to spend more time on it. If they can’t even find your current position or your skills section in that 8 seconds because of all the creativity going on, you just got DELETED. Even if they choose to spend the 60 seconds they spend on resumes they are interested in, if your creativity makes it difficult to discern your work history or your education, out of frustration you could be DELETED as well. The judicious use of key words that apply to you and the position you are applying for will be far more effective in holding their interest. Also, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What you think is attractive, creative and colorful in your unconventional resume, another might see as tacky, garish and too informal.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Almost all large corporations and many mid-size firms use applicant tracking systems or a database to store incoming resumes and then track how that person/resume proceeds through the interview process. These systems aren’t cutting edge technology. If they can’t easily load your unconventional resume into the ATS, once again, your resume is DELETED. For instance if your education is running vertically along the side of your resume, no ATS will pick that up and you will be entered into that company’s database with no education. Certainly videos and online resumes can’t be added to an ATS, which means you aren’t going to get the interview.


Research from a staffing firm that recruits creatives found that, even in this field that one historically thought would prefer unconventional resumes, “nearly 8 in 10 or 78% of 400 advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they would rather receive traditional CVs in Word or PDF format.” This survey asked, “Which of the following resume formats do you most prefer to get from candidates applying for creative roles at your company?

The Creative Group Survey 2016 2013
Traditional (e.g., Word document, PDF) 78% 70%
Social or online profile 14% 4%
Video 3% 2%
Infographic 3% 20%
Some other format 0% 1%
Don’t know/no answer 1% 3%


Stick to a traditional resume. In this case, old-fashioned will get you the interview. Unconventional resumes could get you DELETED. For additional tips on resume preparation, read 18 Resume No-No’s.

Interested in seeing where your resume will take you?  Contact Smith Hanley Associates‘ Data Science and Analytics Executive Recruiter, Nancy Darian, at 312.589-7582 or ndarian@smithhanley.com.


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