With the current economy, it’s important for job-seekers to stand out if they want to land a job, whether that’s in the corporate world or a freelance gig. The good news is that if you’re a creative-type, there’s a ton you can do with your resume that will set you apart.
The key in creating a great resume is to make it unique. Your resume should reflect you: your skills, your personality, and your experience. Combining those in a way that will catch the eye of whoever is in charge of hiring is what this article will teach you!
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With high unemployment rates and a lagging economy, the job market is tough. There are a lot more people than there are jobs. And even when the economy is good, the best jobs still have a lot of competition. And freelancers are always competing for the best clients and the most lucrative projects, regardless of the economic situation.
Imagine yourself as the person responsible for hiring someone to fill a creative position. You have piles of plain, boring resumes sitting on your desk or in your email inbox. Sure, one of them might have used an icon here or a line there, maybe some bolder colors, but for the most part, resumes all look the same, superficially.
Then you come across a resume that’s bursting with creativity. It’s unique, it showcases the talents of the person who sent it along with their personality, and it tells you that this person is self-motivated and not afraid to take chances or do something unexpected. That person is likely going to get an interview, at least, even if their qualifications aren’t absolutely ideal.
The same thing goes for freelancers who are trying to appeal to potential clients. If your “about” or “resume” page is the same text-based affair as everyone else’s, you’re going to blend in with everyone else. But if you do something unique and different, something that represents you and your talents, you’re more likely to get a call from those prospects.
The bottom line is that while a creative resume won’t necessarily land you your dream job, it can get you a foot in the door that might not have otherwise opened for you.
The first thing you’ll need to do is a create a plain vanilla resume. This should list all the important information about your experience and career. Even though creative resumes often include lots of information not commonly found on a regular resume, you’ll still need to include at least basic information about your work experience and education, as well as your relevant skills.
From there, you’ll want to create a separate list of other skills and experience that might not be included on a standard resume. This can include things like hobbies or interests outside of your profession, as well as more creative things (like special ninja skills).
You’ve got to decide if you want your resume to exist in just the virtual world or if you also want to create print copies. To some extent, this depends on how you want to use your resume. If you’re looking for a traditional full-time job, you’ll almost certainly need print versions of your resume. If it’s mostly for landing freelance jobs, though, you can probably get away with just having it online.
Of course, you can always have your resume available in both formats. This makes particular sense if you’re on the lookout for a full-time job and are networking heavily to find one. Rather than carrying around a stack of resumes, you can just carry around business cards with the URL of your online resume. It cuts down on paper and makes it easier to give your info to people who might be able to hire you.
At the same time, having printed resumes available for those who request them is also a good idea when engaging in a traditional job search. A lot of companies (even creative ones) still want paper resumes to look through when making hiring decisions.
If you’re going to have both print and online versions of your resume, you’ll probably want to have some sort of consistent design theme between the two. This is fine, but remember that in the world of print design, there are certain conventions you’ll need to adhere to.
First you have to decide if you want to have your resumes professionally printed or if you’ll be printing them off on your own laser or inkjet printer. If the former, you’ll have a bit more leeway. Four-color printing has come down in price significantly in recent years, meaning that a full-color resume, including bleeds, won’t cost you too much as long as you’re having at least a few hundred copies printed.
If you’re going to print off your own resumes, you’ll want to check what your printer is capable of. Can it print without margins? If not, how large do the margins need to be? How does it do with big blocks of solid colors? You may want to run a few tests to see how different design elements work before committing to anything in particular.
As far as your virtual resume goes, make sure you have the technical skills to create the kind of resume you want. Also take into account context. If you’re applying for a job as a Flash designer, you’ll definitely want to create a Flash-based resume. If you’re applying for a job as a graphic designer, you’ll want to make sure your resume has plenty of good graphics work included, beyond just your portfolio.
You’ll want some kind of theme to base your resume design around. If you have a particular area of expertise or a strong interest in a particular area, then that might be the best idea for your resume. Think about how the design of the resume itself can show off what you’re capable of.
Themes can be something very general, like “grunge” or “colorful” if that’s the kind of design you like to do, or you can go more specialized. There are tons of interesting themes out there, including this one:
Using something as familiar as Facebook for your resume design shows creativity without having to design something from scratch. It’s a great idea for non-designers who still want a creative resume: take something familiar and customize it to show of your particular skills.
Here’s another great example of a resume built around a theme:
The overall design is an infographic that shows off the designer’s skills and experience in a visual manner. It’s creative and different, and shows off what the designer is capable of.
And here’s another one, this time in the style of RPG character sheet:
Differentiating your resume from all the others your potential employer might be considering is what will get you an interview (and maybe even a job). Because creative resumes are becoming more popular, it’s harder to stand out. This is why personalization is key.
Don’t be afraid to try something different, whether it’s online or in a physical resume. There are thousands of ways you can create a resume that stands out. For example, here’s a resume that’s based on a Soviet-era Service Booklet:
Here’s another example, this time a template for creating a 3D box with the resume written on the sides:
Not many people would think to create a resume printed on fabric rather than paper. This one is complete with stitching details:
Color sample books are another unique design idea:
If you’re trying to come up with ideas on something completely different for your resume, think about how you’re different from others who might be applying for the same position. Then figure out how to best showcase those differences. For someone with a varied background, an infographic might work well. For someone else who has a tight specialty in one thing or another, the design should showcase that particular skill very well.
If you’re still at a loss for ideas, look at the things around you: in your home, in your car, in your office. Look for themes there, and then think about how you could use those in your resume.
The biohazard grunge theme of this CV is sure to stand out.
An interesting, collage-style resume.
Another collage-style resume layout.
Grunge-style elements are popular in creative resumes, which makes it harder to stand out. This one does a nice job of it, though.
A unique idea that is reminiscent of an old album cover.
A really creative infographic resume.
This resume is reminiscent of a vintage direct-response ad.
A fantastic example of a minimalist resume that’s still very creative.
A very professional, clean-looking resume.
A simple design with a beautifully understated color scheme.
This is an outstanding example of how injecting personality into your resume can really make it stand out.
Including the icons of programs you’re experienced with is a great way to enhance your resume.
Another infographic resume.
Creative resumes aren’t just restricted to web and graphic designers.
A very bold black and white resume design.
Another simple but impactfull resume design, this time with a different take in the wording.
A fun, comic-strip style resume is something that stands out. The black and white color scheme also makes it very suitable to print.
A bright red resume stands out.
An interesting take on the traditional CV, with a scientific anatomy theme.
This is a completely unique approach, and very visually interesting.
A bold design with a mostly-neutral color scheme.
A grungy, notepaper style resume with a ton of detail.
A simple resume with a beautiful color scheme and interesting background design.
Just adding a background texture and changing the orientation of the text can make a huge impact.
Another fantastic example of an infographic-style resume.