How to look interesting without looking crazy on the jobhunt.
May 9, 2011 7:25 AM   Subscribe

Is it advisable to send unusual, outlandish looking CVs to grown ups who do grown up jobs?

A couple of friends of mine who work in a similar/related field to me have had success with sending funny and highly individual CVs to employers.

Friend A works in museum marketing/publicity. She has never been an unsuccessful applicant. She swears by her CV, which is landscape and printed on graph paper.

Friend B works in film/TV and is another recent graduate. When looking for a better job (he was a runner at the time), he speculatively sent each production house a mug with his CV printed on it. He has since landed a promotion, but I don't know if that was in response to a mug.

I am charmed by both these ideas, but I fear stepping out of the A4, portrait, 2-page, chronological CV structure. I am about to get on the job hunt. My field is small and reputations are important. But, it is also a creative industry so standing out is not a bad thing.

Is it a terrible idea to pull a stunt like my friends?

*Both friends also happen to be well-qualified and intelligent. As far as I'm aware my CV is good, but this is the UK arts scene and there are very few opportunities and a lot of qualified people out there.
posted by dumdidumdum to Work & Money (15 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I work for a London design company, and we wouldn't interview a candidate unless there was something a little bit different about their CV. Creativity stands out. Just don't go too far and look like you're a nutter :)
posted by greenish at 7:53 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

People in art and design get this kind of latitude. Graphics designers have no better place to prove they're creative than on their own CVs. People pursuing staid careers (like mine, engineering) do not, unless they are very careful and very lucky.

I imagine people in advertising get similar latitude.
posted by jet_silver at 7:54 AM on May 9, 2011

Neither of those ideas would be particularly useful in my field (academia). Really, what the people on a search committee in my field need is a well organized and easy to read CV, that they can get the information they need out of with only minimal effort. But I can see that in a creative field, as long as this is true, unusual or interesting (or just good) design might be a plus -- the graph paper thing sounds potentially interesting and not counterproductive, and the mug thing sounds really irritating if you have to actually get information off of it. Also, if an applicant sent us those mugs, I'm not sure what we'd do with them, but actually drinking out of them is not (to me) the obvious first choice, and keeping them with job search materials would not be physically practical.
posted by advil at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2011

I had to sift through a bunch of applications for a web designer position and what I found really helpful was if the resume was concise and well-organized. I didn't get any creatively-presented resumes, but I think I wouldn't be averse to one provided it was easy to read. Seems like something printed on a mug would have to be pretty to-the-point at least.
posted by Straw Cab at 8:01 AM on May 9, 2011

The mug thing seems strange to me. Applicant information is supposed to be confidential, so what would a hiring manager do with a mug? But creativity in design/layout, yes for sure, as long as the design doesn't interfere with the content.
posted by headnsouth at 8:08 AM on May 9, 2011

Consider that marketing/publicity and TV/film are both areas where creativity and original thinking are often valued qualities. This technique will not necessarily work in other arenas. A CV printed on the back of a calculator probably won't get you far in accounting, for example.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:13 AM on May 9, 2011

Is it advisable to send unusual, outlandish looking CVs to grown ups who do grown up jobs?

Your CV should show how you possess the particular qualities that are prized by potential employers. If you want to work somewhere that prizes creativity, be creative. If you want to work somewhere that prizes consistent professionalism, then don't.

Either way, you should always tailor your CVs to particular positions and potential employers.
posted by mhoye at 8:16 AM on May 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

If you're in a slightly creative field, would you want to work for a company that docked points for creativity?

I did this and it worked. I also included what I called "a boring pdf version of my resume" in the email I sent to HR, so that they still had something that would fit in a file folder (my resume was online).
posted by dripdripdrop at 8:29 AM on May 9, 2011

My favorite creative stories about getting interviews are the guy who used google ads to get attention of potential employers, and I also remember hearing a really cool story about a guy who wanted a job at an ad agency so he left a wallet filled with his portfolio and other CV information in the agency bathroom. It was found and they were very impressed. Creative people and industries definitely like people who aren't afraid to take those risks and be creative with the job application process.
posted by banished at 8:45 AM on May 9, 2011

I should add that creativity shouldn't get in the way of usability, just like in everything else. I think that's where you can stand out with a creative resume, in that the creativity isn't just lipstick.
posted by dripdripdrop at 8:55 AM on May 9, 2011

If it's a creative field and the creative element doesn't detract from the rest of your CV, it's probably a good thing, if only because it may make your CV catch the eye of someone who has 50 to look through. But it's a fine line - I remember once seeing a "creative" CV with "wacky tw*t" scribbled across the top in pink highlighter in the reject pile.
posted by rhymer at 9:20 AM on May 9, 2011

I've seen the mug idea before in TV/film in the US, but it works best for entry-level jobs. After a point, your credits are all you need.
When I was looking for "real jobs", as opposed to free-lance, my resume looked very snappy, but my written bits were pretty funny, and I always got positive responses to it. People always asked about my job at a DC museum whereI stated one of my duties was to give tourists misleadind information about the First Ladies' gowns.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:20 AM on May 9, 2011

I was doing something similar once. My approach (which I never got to use because I landed a better job elsewhere before I sent it) was to keep the CV traditional, but the theme the way it is presented. Eg the way it arrives. The container it comes in. Perhaps subtle things about the CV itself, just not things that interfere with being able to read it like a regular CV.

To my mind, the mug idea isn't clever because it's unique, it's clever because even if he doesn't get the job, the mug is a useful office object that won't end up in he trash, it will end up in the kitchen, where it could continue to do its job for years. Maybe a position comes up 8 months down the track, and some office wit will joke "hey - you should interview the mug guy", and... maybe they do.

In my case, my aim was to send a regular CV inside an object intended to persist in the office.
posted by -harlequin- at 9:33 AM on May 9, 2011

I fear stepping out of the A4, portrait, 2-page, chronological CV structure.

There are lots of options between what you describe above and putting your CV on a coffee mug. Google Skills Based Resume for one. There are others.
posted by anastasiav at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2011

Fashion studies show that men dress for the women they want to attract.

Match your CV to the company. An eclectic CV will not be appreciated by a bank. A corporate CV will not be appreciated by an art-house film production company.

As someone who has reviewed CVs for both, interesting CVs have to be damn-well done. It's not the kind of thing you can throw together in an hour. It's rather like an art project that one crafts.
posted by nickrussell at 10:02 AM on May 9, 2011

« Older Help identifying harrassing telemarketers in...   |   Need recommendations for moving companies in the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.