New Research Reveals That Trendy Resume Could Cost You the Job, Even in Creative Industries

Posted By Terri Williams on May 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm
New Research Reveals That Trendy Resume Could Cost You the Job, Even in Creative Industries

Close to 1.9 million college students are expected to graduate in 2016. And while employers are projected to hire more new college grads this year than they did in 2015, competition is still steep for those seeking gainful employment.

Some job hunters may try to stand out from the crowded field of applicants by submitting creative resumes, but this strategy could backfire. According to a recent survey by The Creative Group, even advertising and marketing executives prefer traditional resumes. A few years ago, infographics and other types of resume formats appeared to be gaining in popularity. However, it appears that the trend may have shifted back to conventional resumes.

When asked which resume formats they preferred to receive from candidates, responses were as follows in this year’s survey compared to 2013:

2016 2013
Traditional (e.g., Word document, PDF) 78% 70%
Social or online profile 14% 4%
Video 3% 2%
Infographic 3% 20%
Some other format 0% 1%
Don’t know/no answer 1% 3%


Traditional resumes work better for most hiring managers

GoodCall asked Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, why managers – especially those in a creative industry – would prefer traditional resumes.

Hiring managers typically spend seconds scanning resumes to pick out the ones they want to review in detail,” explains Domeyer. “If they can’t quickly discern your strengths and the value you can bring to the company, they’ll move on to the next application.”

While a good resume design can be a plus, the information must be clear. When time is of the essence, Domeyer says a traditional resume is much easier and faster to review than another format, such as an infographic or video resume. And she warns, “Many hiring managers, especially those recruiting for non-creative roles, may not even be able to interpret – or even accept – unconventional applications.”

So is there ever a time when Domeyer thinks a creative resume would be a good idea? Yes. If the candidate knows that the person or people viewing their resume would appreciate a more unusual approach, she recommends an unconventional resume, and believes it can work to the candidate’s advantage. “Just be sure to avoid gimmicks: while it’s OK to include elements of your personal branding into your resume, for example, refrain from using excessive embellishments.”

And Domeyer advises candidates to also prepare a traditional resume – just in case the hiring manager asks for one.

Regardless of the format candidates choose, Domeyer offer the following 5 tips:

  • Tailor the content. Customize your resume so it speaks directly to a potential employer’s need.
  • Use the right terms. Since many resumes are first scanned by computer programs, mirror the language and keywords found in the job description, as long as the terms accurately describe your skills and experience.
  • Cut to the chase. Quantify past accomplishments and make sure these details are front and center.
  • Take it for a two-minute test. Ask a friend or family member to review your resume and summarize its key points. Make sure the most valuable information is being conveyed to readers.
  • Proofread. Always proofread your resume several times before saving and sending it.

Novorésumé proves 1-page resume works for everyone – even Elon Musk

Novorésumé gained instant fame after the company created a one-page sample resume highlighting the accomplishments of Elon Musk. Yes, that Elon Musk: co-founder of PayPal and Zip2, co-founder and CEO of Tesla Motors, chairman of SolarCity, and founder and CEO of SpaceX. The message resounded throughout the world of job seekers: if all of Musk’s achievements can be condensed onto one page, why on earth would anyone else need a multi-page resume?

GoodCall asked three of the masterminds behind Novorésumé to share some of their best practices.

Web developer Stefan Polexe, tells GoodCall that Novorésumé conducted studies with recruiters both online and by phone, and there seems to be agreement that candidates with less than five years of relevant working experience should not exceed a one-page resume.

“The way we fixed that was to create some templates that are using all the space available on a page, while making sure there is still enough space between the elements,” says Polexe. The company also believes that candidates should only include details that are relevant to the specific job wants they’re applying for.

“A resume should reflect the person as a professional individual but it should also reflect their personality, as we are all unique.” And the company’s resume templates have a variety of themes, fonts, and layouts to help candidates express themselves. However, Polexe says it’s also important to check out the company’s culture. “If your personality will not fit in the company, both sides will lose over time.”

Researcher and Marketer Andrei Kurtuy, offers the following 5 tips:

  • Your email address should be just your name or a professional variation of it
  • Make an audit of your social media profiles and be sure there is no content that may create a bad impression about you
  • When writing tasks/accomplishments and achievements, try to begin every sentence with an action verb
  • Read the job ad many times and understand what skills are sought by the employer before listing your skills
  • Do NOT mention “Salary negotiable” or “References available upon request”

Never underestimate the importance of a well-designed resume. Designer Cristian Letai tells GoodCall, First of all, a great looking resume immediately pops out of a stack, and a well-thought structure and a focus on readability make it easier for the recruiter to comprehend the information.”

However, Letai warns that there’s a fine line between a great looking resume and an overcrowded one. “Useless decorations or icons just for the sake of them should be avoided.”

Letai also stresses the importance of using a professional profile photo. “Make sure it’s not a vacation photo; you shouldn’t be wearing sunglasses in it; your face should be visible – and you should be the only one in the photo.”

So how should applicants deal with significant gaps in their resume? Ignore them, or provide an explanation? “The best option is to explain them in the cover letter,” advises Letai. “While most jobs ask for a cover letter, should you stumble upon one that doesn’t, make sure to mention a significant gap year as a short sentence in your summary.”

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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