Monday, March 23, 2009

"Really Creative Resumes" are...well...potentially dangerous

Click on the title and visit this blog site that shows off 30 of what they term "brilliant plus creative resumes." These resumes are the work of design students and professionals, presumable seeking work in the design field.

My question: did all these people get interviews? If so, then bravo/brava! If not, it might be well for them to do some research and find out what resume readers are like, what they look for in a resume, and what methods have been successful in getting a resume put into the “yes, interview” pile.

Their creativity is definitely thought-provoking and inspiring. It would be even better had they all met the business goal inherent in producing a resume - because they all do want to work someplace where their designs meet business goals. The business goal here is to get an interview.

Here's my critique of a few of them:

My experience is that resume reviewers (whether in HR or design…) have limited time and want to be able to see very quickly whether the person meets the minimum qualifications, as well as whether they have skills and a potential culture or personality fit. It is smart to do a lot of the reader’s work for them by keeping things simple. It is just not smart to create complex designs that require a lot of reading and decoding (e.g. #13, #19).

I thought #20 did the best job of conveying information in a smart, concise way - it’s easy for the reader to quickly grasp the creative concept and to read the relevant information. A weakness is the language the applicant uses to describe himself - he says he is "familiar with" various programs. A more powerful word is "Proficient user of xyz." Similarly, #4, #6, #12 and #15 used design to capture attention while also presenting clear, succinct information. I happen not to like white text on dark backgrounds - it is proven to be more difficult to read, and we want readers to easily grasp the key information in our resume.

I was intrigued yet somewhat dismayed by #10 and #24 - because I like graphic things that tell a great story. These graphics did NOT tell a great story. #10’s graph told me he didn’t know enough about key tools and areas, while #24’s graphs conveyed unpredictability and erratic performance. Not the message you want to send!

#16 combined some great and some questionable. He uses a clear format to give the basic resume information, and I like the cheeky attitude conveyed by the lined notebook paper. Yet, are doodles ever an appropriate thing for a resume? They convey a casual approach, a lack of seriousness toward work, that I think would at least subliminally turn off a design-based employer.

#8 has an interesting format and conveys vital information quickly and succinctly. I might argue that not all the information is important (e.g. objective - if you are applying for a job, we assume your objective is to get that job...). The most fatal flaw, however, is putting her name on the BOTTOM of the resume. People look at the TOP of a resume to find the applicant's name. This person just made it very likely that her resume will be buried in a pile, lost to view - simply because the reader has to work too hard to figure out whose resume it is. This does not demonstrate smart design to meet business goals.

A resume can showcase how the applicant harnesses their creativity to solve a business problem - something any employer would be happy to see. With a little bit of work, all of these could be real winners.


DaveG said...

Nice post. Most folks stick with the "plain vanilla" versions of their resumes--unless you are dealing with the *creative types*... and then, this might be a case for the *creative resumes*. As you said, however, many companies just scan the physical resumes and parse out the keywords for candidate selection. A creative resume will blow this process all to heck--especially if it's in tables, or has figures/pictures, weird fonts, or has things like names, addresses, and phone numbers in unexpected locations on the page. If you don't mind, I'd love to link to this blog post from my website: Resumes that Work!.

simonbeaner said...

I'd be delighted for you to link to this post! thanks so much for the nice comments and validation.