Sending a resume to get your dream job is not an unusual thing. A couple of months ago a woman from North Carolina, US garnered social media attention after sending her resume on an edible cake to Nike. The idea to get the resume printed on the cake was an effort to approach the company in a creative way. Though her unusual effort to approach Nike for a possible job opportunity did not help her get a call from the company. Later the woman got a job as a brand strategist; consumer insights and strategy in another company.
“A creative resume goes beyond formatting, colour, or media. An unconventional resume for instance a Tiktok video highlighting your strengths works well for creative industries. It also works for banking, insurance, finance, or any traditional industry, as long as you focus on what’s in it for them and do it professionally,” says Han Kok Kwang, Career Coach Partner to JobStreet by SEEK.
Besides a resume, Han suggests candidates be visible and findable by building an ecosystem of visibility on social media, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and even a personal website.
As for concerns that Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) cannot read images and creative formatting, simply avoid them. You can still be creative without using boxes, logos, tables and uncommon fonts. This is the essence of being creative within constraints, he suggests.
To make your resume stand out from a large pool of submissions, Abhishek Agarwal, President – Judge India & Global Delivery at The Judge Group, suggests drafting a resume unconventionally to keep it catchier and less verbose. “Instead of dwelling in detail about professional feats, it will showcase the skills acquired and applied.”
According to Agarwal a creative resume helps candidates to demonstrate their creativity to a recruiter. Applicants can use a graphic, a brief video, an online portfolio, or a whole website as its template. A graphic designer can create their resume in InDesign or Adobe Illustrator to showcase their professional abilities.
Changing expectations of employers
With so many distractions such as great resignation and quiet quitting, employers’ expectations have evolved. Employers now invest more time and effort in ensuring new talents meet three fits ---job fit, person fit and culture fit to minimise turnover from any new buzzwords from the media.
With changing times, interviewers are stringently evaluating how well a candidate fits into the new role. “The pandemic has drastically altered employers' expectations. Awareness of their changing expectations and tailoring CV around those will help a candidate realise an experience that gives the recruiter the best possible image of his candidacy,” adds Agarwal.
What makes a resume interesting
Experts say that employers prefer to know the real person behind the fanciful resume and what a candidate brings to the table. They look at what a candidate can do. Therefore, candidates are advised to emphasise their best accomplishments on their résumé, such as their academic research, professional ties, portfolio link, and online presence—lest you be overlooked by sophisticated applicant monitoring systems that mercilessly weed out résumés.
“Authenticity is the new game. Showing evidence of hungry and motivated work-in-progress beats a slick and perfect resume anytime. Show the employer why you are interested in them and what you have done to get so far, such as getting to know your teammates professionally on LinkedIn and exchanging pointers on the best ways forward in a VUCA environment. In essence, be different and be so good that they want you on their team,” explains Han.
What to avoid in your resume
Instead of using descriptors like "collaborative" or "results-oriented," better to provide specific examples of actually being these things. Besides key phrases, make sure you include details about projects, accomplishments and value added by your qualities and strengths. It is one thing to "improve something," but it is quite another to "improve the procurement process by adding two new conditions, resulting in $30,000 cost savings."
Agarwal highlights that the experience column is what a recruiter is most drawn to on a résumé. Remember to include the best selection of your work.
“Accessible format, clean layout, subtle hues, easy-to-read font, and 1-2 page limit are still the thumb rule. Use proper tabulation and relevant points for the smooth conveyance of your information. Most importantly, run a Grammar and Spelling check before you hit the Send button,” says Agarwal.
Keywords without context are a waste of time
You must know how to modify your CV because most businesses use résumé screeners these days to shortlist quickly. It is advised to build your knowledge about the wording these scanners search for. Candidates can increase their chances of CV getting shortlisted through timely research and wise word selection.
● Hard worker
● Team player
● People’s person
● Strategic thinker
You’d better leave these words and phrases off your CV. They are too cliché, and instead of adding any value to your document, they might annoy the recruiter away onto the next CV.
These are more clearly measurable words describing tangible things you have done, and also show that you understand what is important in your role.