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When Being Too ‘Creative’ With Your Resume Can Work Against You

As a creative professional, your resume and portfolio can ultimately determine if you get invited in for an interview. Too often, candidates pursuing creative roles (i.e., graphic designers, copywriters, etc.) add a variety of design elements to their resume/portfolio in hopes of making it stand out against the competition. While creativity is always encouraged as a way to set yourself apart, there is a fine line between being creative and going over the top to impress.

It’s important to use your discretion when designing your resume or portfolio for your next job opportunity. Keep reading to learn from two of The Execu|Search Group’s seasoned account executives about some of the dos and don’ts of putting together your resume:

Julie Maurer, Senior Account Executive – Fashion & Retail

Julie Maurer, a Senior Account Executive on The Execu|Search Group’s Creative & Digital team, works with an array of employers who put a heavy emphasis on the format and style of a candidate’s resume. “While every employer has different expectations for what a standout resume should look like, creative professionals should focus most on including the information in a format and style that accurately highlights their professional strengths as they align with the responsibilities of the job they’re interested in,” recommends Julie. Some of these include:

  • Using consistent font sizes/styles that help your titles and descriptions standout
  • Maintaining a clean aesthetic (i.e., format alignment, chronologic project lists, etc.)
  • Including links to your portfolio website in an easily visible location

The key to adding creative elements to your resume without going overboard is to ensure that your additions don’t distract the reader from the content. Therefore, the following are things you should avoid including on your resume:

  • Caricatures, bitmojis, or personal photos
  • Job titles and dates without additional descriptions
  • Text boxes or colored shapes to separate or highlight difference sections
  • A ‘Professional Summary’ or ‘About Me’ section unless you have over 10 years of experience or have recently changed industries/careers

Anjelica Jones, Account Executive – Creative & Digital

Anjelica Jones, an Account Executive on The Execu|Search Group’s Creative & Digital team, advises candidates on ways to enhance their resumes through content and design. “Whether you are a seasoned professional in your respective field, or a new grad trying to land your first full-time gig, it can be challenging to find the right balance between highlighting your experience as well as your creative abilities on your resume,” says Anjelica. Candidates should think about:

  • Creating two different resume formats, one that follows a standard format, and a second that incorporates more creative design elements
  • Using up to two pages to highlight your best work that is most relevant to the job
  • Aligning your past experiences with elements of the job you’re pursuing

While you can take the above steps to position yourself as a stronger candidate, be sure to avoid the following:

  • Relying solely on creative design software tools (e.g., Sketch, InDesign, Photoshop, PowerPoint, etc.) to create your resume
  • Including every role you’ve held or assignment you’ve completed onto one page
  • Adding irrelevant additional experience/information (i.e., references, hobbies, interests, etc.)

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