I often get asked about whether or not creating a unique resume is a good idea. I wrote this about a year ago:
“I want my resume to be a creative expression of my unique gifts!”
This (not uncommon) request prompts me to delicately remind potential clients that the resume is “about you but for them” and that many readers will be turned off by an overly creative approach. Most people instantly get the differentiation and appreciate the frank advice. But sometimes a potential client balks. “I don’t want to sell out to get a job. I want my resume to represent my unique personality” is usually the subtext, if not the out-and-out response.
If you feel like following resume writing best practices is selling out, let me allay your fears. Considering your audience is not selling out. And your audience – your potential employer – is what is most important when creating a resume.
I am all for individual expression. There is a time and place for communicating your unique gifts in a creative way. However, as hard as it may be to hear, an effective resume is rarely a creative resume.
While times are changing, change in the area is slow. Simply put, a majority of the employment community is not ready to accept overly creative resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
Research shows – as does every hiring panel I've sat on – that while organizational/corporate leaders claim to like the idea of a creative resume (think, for example, one with lots of design or disruptive language), they do not respond favorably when it comes to decision time. A professional, appropriately modern, well written resume still wins out.
Speaking of disruptive language... More and more, candidates want to use statements that they feel are catchy and individualized, like "Project Management Ninja" or "I manage awesome projects. Find out how I can put my magic to work for you." You may have those skills, but that's also the language that blowhards use.
Again, though, things are changing (however slowly!). If a creative approach makes sense for your profession, I recommend leveraging the work we do to develop a complementary creative or designed version of your resume to provide as a leave behind during the interview process.