Question: How effective are non-traditional resumes (e.g. resumes with borders, headings or color)? –Mariyam H., Chicago
Answer: A non-traditional resume (e.g. one utilizing infographics, creative font or even a material different from paper) is certainly an eye-catching trick to pull out of the jobseeker’s hat. There are a few things to consider, as an unconventional resume may not be eye-catching in the ideal way.
Think of the Industry before Submitting
Typically, creative industries tend to receive such resumes more favorably than, say, the financial services. If you are working in finance at an association (a more corporate environment), it may benefit you to submit a traditional resume that abides by the same formatting and design guidelines as the majority. If, however, you are going to be building a new website for an organization, a little border or creative heading shouldn’t hurt. As with most things in life, moderation is key here!
Have a Back Up
Always have a copy of your traditional resume on hand to provide hiring managers. Some may not want to see the digital/video/creative version, opting instead to go down the old school route.
Abide by the Rules
Be sure to read through the job description and follow directions for submitting your documents accordingly. If they are asking for a resume in a specific format, heed that. Now is not the time to get creative with your submission!
Simplicity is Key
Regardless of whether or not you decide to spruce up your resume, abide by the “less is more” adage. As with everything else on that document, you want your creative touches to be noticeable without being distracting.
For most applicants, putting a simple black border or using a creative (yet legible) header shouldn’t be the difference between getting a call and not. Be smart about what design choices you make and remember that—above all—it’s your content that will make you stand out. Make sure that all your design choices aren’t merely to mask a lack of experience, and instead highlight the skills and experiences you do have!
Nurys Harrigan-Pedersen is president of Careers In Nonprofits, the experts in nonprofit staffing and recruiting with offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C.