Employers and recruiters alike receive countless CVs on a daily basis. Many of these fall short of expectations. Many would be fantastic, if they didn’t look like all the others in the pile.
If you’re looking to stand out from a crowd of hundreds and thousands of candidates, you need to produce a CV that can make getting interviews a sure-fire thing.
A creative CV not only allows you to stand out, but it also gives you access to a huge number of additional bonuses you just don’t get with the basic, two-sides-of-A4 block of prose 99% of people use.
– Creating a CV becomes an art form: You’re free to do pretty much whatever you like, so long as it’s within the bounds of reason (i.e. it’s actually a CV and not just a myriad of blasé statements and pointless graphics)
– An internet presence like no other: Having your own website is one thing, but making it stand out from all other online portfolios is another. Getting creative with different applications, and showcasing your work across social media channels makes for ultimate exposure. You never know, it could just go…
– … viral: If your creative CV REALLY innovates and the mass media get a whiff of it, they’ll latch onto it. You could even get interviewed, and interview offers will come flooding in without the need to even apply. Having an internet CV or a story about it with several thousand, even hundred thousand hits will inevitably garner positive interest.
– Range of uses: Each different method we will go through has its own merits; it’s up to you to pick the one which best suits your needs.
– Your personality is allowed to shine through: With a creative CV, the biggest selling point will be how you show your personality on it. It can be done in numerous ways, but it is much easier to do than through a regular CV.
Creative CV Ideas
#1: The Infographic CV
– Visually stimulating
– Great way of showing statistical information/timelines
– Easy to show off personality
Probably the closest creative CV solution to a regular CV, the infographic CV is most useful when you can back up your statements with statistical evidence.
As condescending as it sounds, people love pictures! They often say in a small space what it would take several paragraphs to say, so consider using them more.
Michael Anderson’s CV (click to enlarge) is a great example of how to use infographics for personality expression. His work experience comes in the form of a cool-looking timeline/graph. Underneath that is a pie chart detailing his skill set and how ready he is to apply these skills commercially. There is also a 3D graph showing how much coffee he needs over the course of a day (perhaps he’s not the greatest morning person).
This Pinterest page has some good examples on it if you want more great infographic CV ideas.
#2: The Prezi CV
– Easy to create
– Keeps all information bitesize
– Visually pleasant, with nice transitions
From experience, I only know Prezi as a tool for lecturing. Like PowerPoint or SlideShare, but more visually customisable. Prezi allows you to weave presentations across a blank canvas, jumping from point to point and zooming in and out. It presents plenty of opportunity to construct a creative CV.
These examples from Maria Ortiz and Laura Crimmons are both excellent, in different ways. Ortiz places her focus on displaying different kinds of recommendation, whereas Crimmons focuses on her ultimate goal to become an expert in the field of PR. You don’t have to be a skilled front-end designer to have a creative CV!
#3: The Interactive Web CV
– Puts your skill set into action (if you’re a designer/programmer)
– Breadth of different angles you can take
– Can combine elements from other creative CV styles, such as infographic (#1)
Having a portfolio online is an essential requirement of any good application. Most, though, are quite… portfolio-y. The work stands out, but the site doesn’t. Enter Robby Leonardi.
His website is a beautifully designed, sidescrolling, one-button game. It’s totally engrossing, and out-there enough to perhaps even bypass the need for an interview. It’s clear he’s got the skills and the innovation and creativity required, so what else does he have to prove? His actual portfolio is similarly stunning.
An-Ni Wang had a similarly innovative interactive CV idea. As a website with several animations, there’s plenty of opportunity to showcase personality; in this case, Wang incorporates a taste for beer into her infographics.
– It’s better than a Powerpoint!
– Wonderful for telling a touching story
– Ease of use
Presentation curation site SlideShare may not seem like an obvious candidate for a creative CV. The term “death by PowerPoint” is bandied around enough. However, with the correct application, a good enough design and a motive, you can create something brilliant.
Dave Crandall’s “Anti-resume Manifesto” stands out as a result. He lambastes traditional resume techniques as being too targeted towards “cog in the machine”-style jobs. He follows this up by stating his superpowers, and backing them up powerfully. A creative CV is still only as good as its content.
Jordan McDonnell wove a captivating story using SlideShare. He kept things concise and inspiring, and really allowed you to see into his life with images from his past. Needless to say, he landed his dream job – as an Account Manager at Twitter Dublin.
#5: The MS Paint CV
– Look at all the pretty colours!
– If you’re good with it, you can create something with oodles of charisma.
– Can turn it into a very appealing website – viral potential.
Yep, paint. MS Paint.
If you’ve got a steady enough hand (or access to a drawing tablet), using paint could be the best CV idea you’ve ever had.
Take this guy called Eugene, a computer animator.
Clearly a proficient paint sculptor, he’s built a portfolio site and CV site using everyone’s favourite high school procrastination tool, without resorting to the spray can. The level of quirkiness is off the charts, and is certainly colourful enough to catch the eye. The content on the main site showcases his dazzling personality while promoting similarly designed sites by his friends. The CV site, while still paint-y, is much more direct and to the point, much like a normal CV would be, but with the added advantage of outbound links and highly endearing artwork.
#6: The YouTube CV
– Huge viral potential
– Massive creative licence and potential
– You can have so much fun with it, and involve other people!
This one can pay big dividends but requires three things for it to do its job.
a. Confidence and composure in front of the camera.
b. A lot of preparation, both in terms of scripting what you’re going to say so that it doesn’t last an hour, and also how you look. Get a haircut and a shave!
c. You’ve got to know how to edit – and by that I do not mean filling the background with explosions.
These two are much more appropriate. They are both laced with personality and humour, but stick to the point unlike Barney.
Both of them ended up getting the exact jobs they wanted to. A lot of time and effort will have to go in to it, but if done correctly the results will be pretty incredible. You don’t need to have specialist video editing software to do this; freeware such as Windows Movie Maker and free trials will suffice. Here are some things you may wish to include in your video CV.
i. Upbeat music: no REM, sorry.
ii. Actors: incorporate other people into your video!
iii. Setting: You can record it from your room like Nick (so long as it’s tidy), or you can record it from a variety of professional and luxurious settings that are easy on the eye, a la Mark.
iv. Clarity of speech: script what you are going to say, and speak loudly, clearly and confidently.
Recruitment agencies such as Inspiring Interns utilise video CVs. While they aren’t the most creative, they enrich what is already there with a paper CV and take much less time. If you’re looking for something to really make an impact, though, go hard or go home… unless you are already home, in which case… go outside. Then go home.
#7: The Mimic CV
– Unparalleled recognition
– Features of websites become features of CVs.
– Easy to incorporate recommendations and references.
There’s an easy way to create an immediately recognisable creative CV: steal someone else’s design.
Hear me out. What do you think will stand out more: a generic CV or something that looks like one of the most famous pages on the internet?
Mimicking a famous internet page opens up so many opportunities – drop down boxes, adding a CV to your basket, and stating that you’re “out of stock” when employed, and that’s just scratching the surface. Check out this mimic by Eric Ghandi.
“An employee of Google found my Google-themed resume on LinkedIn and he offered to refer me for a position there, which led to an interview,” he told The Business Insider.
#8: Offline CV Ideas
– You can bring out your arts and crafts side – creating a CV while peeling PVA glue off your fingers, I’m in!
– Showcases a different hobby you may have – it all adds personality
– You can have a viral effect by blogging about your work
– It’s the most unexpected method available in the modern day – turning up to a company to give them a physical CV?! That’s unheard of!
One thing that doesn’t get seen often enough anymore is a CV that wasn’t sent via email or online submission. A lot of companies have shifted away from paper-based submissions, opting for efficiency and ease over substance. This means that it’s near-impossible to go out there and give someone your CV; you’re likely to be referred to a “careers website”.
But like I said, nearly impossible. You need to go their equipped. There’s almost too much untapped potential here for a good CV idea.
If you’re as good at embroidery as you are coding HTML, you might want to consider sewing your CV, like Melissa Washin. She got the first job she went for in Graphic Design.
Similarly, if you have the time on your hands, you can expand on the infographic CV (#1) and create something even more impressive – a 3D, paper, infographic CV. Really.
If you have a spare day, try this creative CV idea out – it worked a treat for Mohit Lakmani, who’s information-packed resume stands out… literally.
Needless to say, it worked out for him too. It worked out for everyone above, because they showed they have the guile, work ethic, skill set, creativity and personality to succeed.
This isn’t to say that the content of the CV isn’t relevant. If you make a creative CV, sure, you might get an interview, but what happens then? You can’t back it up. Your experience will always be the most important part of the CV – a creative CV just makes sure all those man hours and completed courses don’t get lost in the shuffle.
Bonus: “The CV Man”
By now, everyone will have heard this wonderful story about Alfred Ajani, the 22-year-old Marketing graduate who impressed many a suitor with his self-marketing method.
Rather than spurn more time adding to the 300+ jobs he’d applied for without success, he did what many others in a similar position failed to do: he did something about it.
Bag packed with CV’s, he took himself down to Waterloo Station at rush hour with a sign offering his services. Interest in him soared. The national press swamped upon him. He had several interviews and job offers. Just like that, he went from desperation to spoiled for choice.
He’s now a Marketing and PR Projects Manager for The Asoria Group of recruitment consultancies. In January, he returned to the spot that made him who he is with a different sign: “I’m now hiring”. Some strategies stick.
Got a creative CV? Show us, we’d love to see it!