Creative people tend to want to do things creatively—that’s just how their brains work. But when it comes to resumes, creative folks can get into trouble when they try to get too creative and forget that resumes are practical tools. While you can certainly add design flair to your creative resume, it’s important to remember that this special document serves a real purpose: to get hiring managers to talk to you. Creative resumes need to be executed properly. And if you’ve skimped on key information, that’s gonna be hard. So, here are some practical guidelines for creative resumes that get your foot in the door.
Link to your portfolio
Whether you’re a writer, graphic designer, illustrator, fashion designer, etc., your hiring manager will want to see your work. Put the URL to your portfolio right at the top where your name and other contact information goes. Go ahead and link that URL as well. Make it easy for hiring managers to be wowed by your awesomeness.
Make sure that your portfolio is up to date. And don’t forget to make sure that any work you showcase is safe to show: for instance, if you’re a ghostwriter, you need to make sure you have permission to show the ghostwritten work in your book.
Use keywords to pass the ATS
We’ve talked about applicant tracking systems before, and for creatives, they can be tricky. Sometimes creative people will use language to describe their work that doesn’t align with the job posting. Don’t fall into that trap. If your last position was a “ballet dress artist” but you’re applying for a “costume design” position, you want to make sure the words “costume design” appear on your resume.
Don’t overdo the pretty
I’ve seen resumes that went heavy on design but failed to pay attention to content. While it’s nice to see a resume from a designer that is visually outstanding, it’s still necessary that your resume list your accomplishments in a detailed, easy-to-read format.
And on this same note, avoid the temptation to get cutesy. I once saw a resume from a young man with little experience applying for an advertising position. To pad out his resume, he added a fake job. He wrote, jokingly, that he worked for Don Draper at Sterling Cooper. This is a reference from the show Mad Men–and it’s funny. Except the hiring manager didn’t watch the show, didn’t get the joke, and felt lied to instead of joked with. Know your audience, and tread carefully.
You’ve probably heard stories about people who applied for creative positions with outlandish tactics: sending the resume in a gift box via courier, applying via singing telegram, etc. People really do this stuff. And while it gets laughs in the office, it’s not the best way to make the right impression. Again, know your audience. Some people can be very put off by games like this: especially busy hiring managers. It’s best to just stick with a standard resume that highlights your skills and talents and leave the showboating to the pros.
If you’re ready to get serious about your resume, let’s work together!