Creative Resume Ideas: How to Design Your Own

by Melinda Ham
Posted: November 26, 2015

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Could a creative CV help you stand out in the job market? Check out this expert advice to putting together a cool, professional resume that shows off your one-of-a-kind skills.   

You’ve finished your training course in the creative industries; graphic and digital design, media and communications or events management. How do you sell yourself to land the job you’ve always wanted? What should your CV look like? The answer isn’t black and white.

Some legendary CVs have included one by Robby Leonardi, who designed an interactive game, which clearly demonstrated his skill as an innovative graphic designer, programmer and animator to potential employers. And it achieved his goal – winning him a job at the trailblazing web incubator Pollenizer.

Don’t be a try-hard

A gimmick can also fall flat and look like an amateur attention-seeking tactic, says Nathan Quigley, Sydney General Manager of Ogilvy Mather, one of the largest global advertising agencies. “It’s more about making your CV interesting, those that are garish or pop out at you just for the sake of it feel to me too much like a try-hard,” Quigley says.

Infographics are becoming increasingly popular, according to Kathryn Banfield, head of Human Resources for Ogilvy PR. She was particularly impressed by the CV of one applicant who managed to fit 18 years’ experience on one page as a timeline with images representing skills.

“A CV is about selling ‘brand you’ and we want to see that you have some kind of logo and personal statement that really engages us and makes it memorable,” Banfield says. “You need to show you are a communicator.”

Forget about the crafty, Etsy approach so popular a decade ago, which included gimmicks such as wrapping your CV and portfolio in hand-made, hand-dyed paper. Nicole Birtwistle, Design Talent Manager at FBI, a design and advertising recruitment agency in Sydney’s Surry Hills, says that it can actually be cringe-worthy for the HR manager or recruitment agency who receives it.

“The applicant has put so much work into it, but then it doesn’t hit the mark and it can be really off-putting and have the opposite effect,” she says. “An email with your CV in a pdf would be much better.”

Corinna Hartas, co-owner of Hartas & Craig creative recruitment agency favours CVs that show off what you do best. Use your skills and make it aesthetically and visually pleasing. “Nice typography, clear font, well-spaced and positioned. Most importantly no grammatical errors or typos,” she says.

The personal touch

Applicants should tailor their CVs for every client. If you are applying for a job that involves fashion then you should highlight your fashion experience, Birtwistle suggests. “You can develop different, targeted CVs and portfolios for particular sectors.”

Banfield likes to receive an application that is personally addressed to her. “I have got some CVs that are obviously just a cut-and-paste of an application to another PR agency. Sometimes they have even left the other name in by mistake!” she says. “I like to see that they have made an effort especially for us and they don’t just have a blanket approach.”

Leave in or leave out?

Should you include hobbies or experience in other areas that don’t directly apply to the role? Quigley from Ogilvy says he was most impressed when one applicant who was applying for an account manager position included a link to her creative portfolio.

“Even though she was not applying for a creative job, it showed me she was passionate about creativity, was a creative champion herself and that really stood out.”

Birtwistle from FBI recruitment says she’s is also interested in how creativity spills into other aspects of the applicant’s life. “If they have extra-curricular hobbies like cool, urban t-shirt design or making posters, that’s worth adding, but if they go sky diving that’s not as relevant,” she says.

Do address gaps in employment, says Banfield. “If you took two years off to travel overseas that is fine,” she says. “It’s actually life experience and adds to you as a person, but if we don’t have an explanation of where you were, we begin to wonder.”

Don’t big-note yourself. “You’ve got to be honest,” says Hartas. “Explain your specific role in a project, no matter how small, and explain how you added value. This will show you’re hard-working, diligent and proactive. Many potential employers check references and they will find out in the end.”

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Melinda  Ham

Melinda Ham

Is a Sydney-based journalist and editor who has written on education, travel, business, science and innovation for the last 20 years, after formerly working as a foreign correspondent in Africa. She is an experienced researcher, interviewer, writer, editor and project manager who aims to produce engaging and compelling content. Head to Melinda's website for more information on her projects and work or go to Melinda's LinkedIn profile to connect.

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