Q. My friends and mentor tell me I have a strong resume, but it’s not getting me very far. After reading the Wall Street Journal article on creative job searches, I am wondering if I should create a non-traditional resume to set me apart from others.
A. While a vast majority of resumes stick to the basics (one page, straight forward listing of jobs and accomplishments), some applicants try to separate themselves from the pack by employing gimmicks. A few work, but far too many fall flat. Be careful when adding creative flair to the resume drafting and delivery process.
Agency recruiters indicate that most resumes come in the expected format. This is especially important for firms that rely on electronic scanners to help screen resumes. Several agency recruiters indicate they receive between 250 and 800 resumes per entry-level job opening, so they need to streamline the initial review process. Over-sized and overly designed resumes often cannot be scanned. Understaffed HR functions don’t have time to manually load content from those resumes into their scanners. Smaller companies and agencies that receive fewer resumes are more receptive of non-traditional resumes.
Creative flair should be reserved for the interview and post-interview follow up. But this, too, carries some risk if your version of creativity doesn’t match the expectation of the potential employer. What works for one group of hiring managers might turn off others, so be sure to know your audience. Rather than over-thinking resume design, spend more time networking. It remains the number one way to land a job interview.