Hiring managers want to see your creativity, but not necessarily in your resume (unless you’re a designer). Check out these creative resume examples we’ve rounded up to demonstrate The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly of trying to go the creative route with a resume.

By: Katelyn Skye Bennett | Freelance Writer for Let’s Eat, Grandma

Everyone wants to stand out from the crowd. But
sometimes it’s best to do so through tradition and simplicity.

In our noisy, information-saturated world,
desperate attempts to stand out are growing tiresome, but quality stands the
test of time. This is no less true with resumes.

While creative, non-traditional resumes with infographics, charts, and timelines have become more common, they often backfire. If they’re done imperfectly or for the wrong audience, they can actually disqualify you instead of gaining you bonus points.

Since it’s best to tailor each resume to the specific job at hand, nontraditional resumes often do work for specific jobs in creative fields like graphic design. However, even within creative fields, 70% of employers still prefer traditional resumes.

Creativity Won’t Beat Substance

According to the Job Network, hiring managers aren’t asking too much from your resume. They want to know what you’ve accomplished and how that relates to their needs.

They don’t require fun bubbles, side columns, and color, as appealing as those might seem. They just want to know, honestly, if you’re a good fit for their gap.

(Additionally, Applicant Tracking Systems do
not recognize skill bars. This trendy tool may actually harm your
chances of being called into an interview by obscuring relevant keywords.)

As you try to stand out in the application process, remember what it actually takes to get your foot in the door.

If you’re leaning towards a nontraditional resume, ask yourself if it would be welcomed in your field, and particularly by the specific employer per the job description. If you’re outside of a creative field, the answer is probably “no.”

Still want to use graphic design, humor, or
video in your resume? According to the hiring managers interviewed by the Muse, the quality of creative resumes was
imperative. If it’s a risk you take, make sure the resume error-free and
compatible across platforms.

Let’s explore what this might look like with
some creative resume examples…

Creative Resume Examples: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good: 

Here are a couple creative resumes that do the
job well. You can find these and more like them on this site

A graphic designer's clean, innovative resume: one of our good creative resume examples.

Right off the bat, this
applicant brings the attention to her concrete accomplishments. The numbers
show that she is capable of handling a full workload and delivering
above-average results.

Even with a unique
design, she keeps her resume focused and presents herself professionally. Her
resume is easy to follow, showing that she is not only creative, but also
organized and a clear communicator.

A illustrator's clean, impressive resume: one of our good creative resume examples.

This resume is also
clear and concise. The applicant employs creativity while incorporating
traditional elements, answering all the hiring manager’s questions about her
skills and experience while showing off her artistry.

She unfortunately uses skill bars, which are not ATS-friendly, but she does list her technical skills beforehand. If she included her name at the top, she’d be golden. All in all, her resume is attractive and effective.

The Bad:

Business Insider shared examples of creative resumes that may have worked in individual cases, but don’t do it for us.

A largely cluttered, overdone resume with too many graphics: one of our bad creative resume examples.

This resume is
difficult to read – it’s way too cramped and is not easy to follow linearly. The
applicant details things that might be appropriate for an interview but feel
too personal and out of place in a resume. While he lists his jobs and
education, he is missing the dates, which are crucial for employers. Some
elements – like the QR Codes – do look promising, but overall, the amount of
work he put into this resume doesn’t match the quality we’d like to see.

However, Business Insider explains that this resume was a huge success. Sometimes risks do pay off!

It does show off his
infographic skills, so we can see how it would be attractive for a job centered
on that skill. For any other industry/job, though, this resume would be a pain
for the majority of hiring managers.

The Ugly:


A My Little Pony-themed resume: our only creative resume example.

Here’s the thing. This now internet-famous resume has certainly succeeded in a way. It’s gotten a lot of attention, both good and bad. If you’re someone who subscribes to the idea that “any publicity is good publicity,” then a resume like this would get the job done.

However, that philosophy isn’t our recommended
approach to job searching. A resume this out there is just too
risky. This applicant actually has some impressive qualifications listed here
resume, so it’s a shame that he’s buried them in an ATS-unfriendly resume that will
laughed off at least as much as it’s loved.

While a few hiring managers may admire his boldness,
he’s effectively alienated many more of them, and we cannot in good conscience endorse
such an approach for those dedicated to finding a job.

If it isn’t yet clear: do not write a My Little Pony resume.

When to Use a Creative Resume

Whether you go the route of traditional or nontraditional, be sure your resume is clear, tailored, and error-free.

If you’re entering a creative field and the application does not have specific resume guidelines, you could consider submitting something like one of these creative resume examples. Keep in mind, though, that this works best when you have a personal contact to ensure that it’s read. Have a traditional resume on hand as a backup just in case.

If this doesn’t describe you or doesn’t match the application requirements, stick with a traditional resume format. If you organize it well and explain how your experience fits the position, your resume will still stand out.

There are plenty of
ways to make a traditional resume beautiful without going over-the-top. And if
it’s well-written, the content is what will ultimately win the hiring manager

Get some ideas on how to write a resume that’s appropriate for your audience with the other articles on our blog and podcast.

Wondering if your resume can compete with the best of them? Schedule a free call with us to find out how our professional writers can rework your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile to land you that dream job.