Creative CV risk

Creative CVs: are they worth the risk?

Creative CVs executed ‘guerilla-style’ seem to be all the rage. Heck, they even wrote a Buzzfeed article on them a while back.

If you do a quick Google search of ‘creative CVs’, hundreds of hits pop up on your screen. Everything from cool infographics to 3D-printed CVs on milk cartons to even full-sized door have all been utilised in order to try to catch an employer’s eye. The state of the job market remains dismal and competitive.


It is perhaps unsurprising that many are going out of their way to stand out.

I was curious to see if there was any correlation with actual recruitment practices, so I decided to do a second Google search. “What do employers look for in an ideal CV?”. The first hit stated that “the average recruiter will only spend between 20 to 30 seconds glancing at your CV which means that you need to make an impression quickly and sell yourself”.

The second said, “Your CV needs to hook its reader within seconds of them picking it up if you’re to stand any chance of progressing to the job interview stage.” The third? Well, the title says it all; “How to grab an employer’s attention in 30 seconds”.

Naturally, this might lead one to the conclusion that a CV’s presentation is the most important criteria to focus on. However, I urge you to put the felt tips and glue stick down. After all, style does not always trump substance when it comes to landing your dream job.

The reason why a creative and visual CV works is because it quite literally, sticks out like a sore thumb. Which is a good thing – unless that’s all there is to it. Frankly, your CV could look like something out of the Game of Thrones opening credits, but if you don’t have the experience or the skills to back your beautiful looking resume, your papier mache masterpiece will go in the ‘reject’ pile quicker than you can say ‘unemployment’.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning on going with an unorthodox CV:

1. Tailor your CV to the job you are applying for

Think about your potential employer and their personality as a company/brand. If it’s the BBC, it’s probably sensible to assume a more discreet, traditional CV will be more appropriate than a ‘creative CV’, but this might be more acceptable for something like Channel 4.

2. Give them a reason to pursue you further

Engage them with brilliant visuals and intriguing content. If you’re applying for a creative job, it is definitely wise to show your design skills on your CV. If it’s for a job that involves a lot of numbers, appeal to that element with an infographic full of impressive (and relevant) stats about you. Remember that the purpose of a CV is to act as an advertisement for you.

The first step is of course, the marketing, but the product also has to live up to its name! Don’t provide skills in your creative CV that implies you have a skill you don’t have (especially if you were cheeky and got your mate to design your webpage/CV for you. You don’t want to mislead your potential employer, because you will get caught out).

3. Don’t get too creative

These are things that are not recommended: CVs on a T-shirt (so far I haven’t seen an instance of this tactic actually working), billboards (unless you’re made of money, which is unlikely if you’re seeking an entry-level position; this might not be a financially-wise decision to make) and anything perishable (don’t send in food or live animals).

But whatever you do, please, please don’t just send a photo of Nicholas Cage as your CV. Yes, he was in Con Air but I highly doubt that will get you hired (if it does, I’ll eat my proverbial hat!).

What crazy CV ideas have you heard of? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: buyalex / Flickr

Currently a Marketing Executive at The Beans Group. Third culture kid, expert instant ramen chef, social media-addicted young person on the cusp of what they call ‘adulthood’. Passionate about entertainment, my job and the occasional masochistic 5k run.

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