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Outside-the-Box Resumes: Creative or Gimmicky?

Out-of-the-box résumés: Creative or gimmickyImagine sitting at your desk plowing through a stack of cookie-cutter resumes when you stumble upon a Lego resume or a chocolate bar resume or a cereal box resume.

You may have heard how some candidates are upping the ante when it comes to impressing employers by offering up something much more than the regular resume and cover letter that’s generally required.

Most recently, a junior from Northwestern University decided to create a Lego version of her resume using free Lego software to design the product packaging.

“I wanted a fun way to stand out to agencies and get my resume out of the trash can — I’ve always loved Lego and I created this set to highlight my creativity, skills and initiative! It’s something I hope to be able to send out along with a job application,” she says.

Legos résumé

She’s not alone. There have been numerous instances where candidates have chosen to take the less-traversed creative route when submitting job applications — and a lot of times, perhaps as a bonus to the candidate, such resumes tend to go viral.

Remember the candidate who vied for (and successfully scored a job!) with his chocolate bar resume?

Chocolate bar résumé

And let’s not forget about the cereal box resume…

Cereal box résumé

…or the passport resume.

Passport résumé

We could go on and on … but you get the idea.

Out of the trash can, into the hire pile?

While each of the aforementioned candidates — and countless others, whose strokes of genius went unnoticed — score high when it comes to creativity, do resumes like these do more than just get your attention? It’s one thing to make a resume stand out in a pile to avoid getting tossed into the trash can; it’s another to be substantive enough to warrant an interview.

Also, does creativity score points across industries? For instance, some of these seem perfectly well suited for marketing or design jobs, if those are in fact the types of jobs these candidates are vying for. But does it really matter whether an IT or engineering or retail candidate submitted an outside-the-box creative resume, or would the person’s credentials speak for itself?

We want to hear what YOU in the trenches think. Tell us in the comments below: What would you do if one of these creative resumes crossed your desk (besides presumably eating the chocolate or the cereal)?

You may also be interested in reading about the best and worst resume keywords as well as learning how long hiring managers actually take on average to review resume.

Deanna Hartley

About Deanna Hartley

Deanna Hartley is a senior copywriter and community manager on the creative services team at CareerBuilder, where she writes about issues that are top of mind for employers and recruiters – including talent acquisition, employee engagement and retention. An avid social media user, Deanna is the face behind @CBforEmployers on Twitter as well as CBforEmployers’ Facebook and Instagram pages, so it’s easy to stay connected with her. Prior to joining CareerBuilder, Deanna was a senior editor for the Human Capital Media Group, publishers of Talent Management, Chief Learning Officer, Diversity Executive and Workforce Management magazines. Deanna holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. She loves caffeine, social media, pop culture and dogs – though not necessarily in that order.

It really comes down to the type of job you are looking for. Resumes, including the ones shown in the article should be tailored to specific positions. If you are looking for a job as an accountant in a fortune 100 company you may not get far with these types of resumes. If you are looking at positions like creative copywriter or web designer these may do well.


@MattSCPRW Excellent point, Matt - it's important to tailor the résumé so that it's not so out-of-the-ordinary to the industry that an employer won't take you seriously. But for the industries you mention, this is probably right up their alley. Thanks for reading & sharing your insights.

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