I want a creative resume
July 19, 2008 11:28 PM   Subscribe

What are the most unique or creative resume/CV designs you have ever seen?

While talking to my boss the other day, he said something about once seeing a resume that was a timeline. I assume it was the horizontal format, which I thought sounded pretty cool.

FWIW, I'm in an industry where my resume doesn't carry as much weight as in most. While it is still necessary for me to have one, much of the impression made on a potential employer is from recommendations and a "working trial" day. All my resume contains is work history and education. Given that, I'd like to overhaul my resume/CV into a unique format.
posted by BradNelson to Work & Money (16 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
My friend is an electrical engineer, specializing in circuit design and board layout. When he was in college and interning at various companies, one boss or co-worker noticed that he really had a great knack for board layout. This person told him that, when he applied for jobs, he should send a board he had designed along with his CV. This way, out of a stack of CVs, they would also have a THING which would be pretty hard to ignore. It's also a great example of the quality of your work.

From your profile, it looks like you might be a chef. Any way you could submit food with your CV? : )
posted by autojack at 11:43 PM on July 19, 2008

How about a recipie? "Take four years at the Culinary Institute of America add one year as saucier at Spago mix with four years sous chef at Providence" etc (yeah, I sped up the timeline a but, sue me ;)
posted by legotech at 2:13 AM on July 20, 2008

Best answer: ... or have it edited as a menu.
posted by neblina_matinal at 5:20 AM on July 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I remember seeing a great timeline resume by a friend of a friend, but it's no longer online. I had heard of the idea before but borrowed it and felt a little guilty about being derivative - mine had an accordion fold, four half-size landscape oriented pages, with my name on the cover with the line beginning, the two double pages with one strand of experience above the line and another below, and the line following onto the last page where I had contact details. I did it as cut-and-paste with the lines drawn by hand.

My most recent one was also an accordion fold, but was eight portrait-oriented a4 pages, with experience in two strands on the front and back covers, and the three double-page spreads were each devoted to images and text about different project. It was cut-and-paste again with hand-letting on a brown graph paper background, and it very pretty well received.

I'm in an industry where the cv/resume as part portfolio/sample is normal and it's encouraged to see it as a creative design project - most of my peers do things that are much more slick but I like taking an opportunity to (competently) put across my point of view.

If autojack's right about you being a chef, then riffing off something in your industry (whether that's a recipe or a hand-written order by a server or a menu) and using it as a chance to show your particular interests sounds great.

A few things I have gathered from other people:
- Make sure the basic information is there and clear. Some people might just fucking hate it, and let them get what they want easily from it.
- Don't be too cheeseball or strain to fit a gimmick, unless you feel like you could watch someone reading over your resume without cringing
- Don't make it too difficult to handle or store, either in proportion or weight or in materials (I guess sandpaper covers could be great if you were utterly super and could ride out the gimmick, but it'd piss off more people than it would endear)
- Think about patterns or prints - is there a textile you see a lot of, and could you incorporate that as a background or something?
- Can you draw, or doodle? Maybe a doodled diagram of a plate with things annotated and your experience under those titles ("celeriac mash: line cook at Chez Fancy, 1998-9, duties including...") or of someone working in a kitchen with parts of them and the equipment labelled with your experience/skills/background
- Keep it affordably reproducable so that rejected applications don't sting as $10 down the drain (I screwed up on that front!)
- Ditto on postage
- Figure out how to allow for additions/changes, if you think you might want to reuse it.
posted by carbide at 6:21 AM on July 20, 2008

I'm a systems administrator. Many years ago, I created a resume that looked like a Windows dialog box. The title bar read Network Administration Properties and I had text, radio buttons and checkboxes indicating the various technologies I was familiar with at the time. I even had tabs for Experience, Education, Associations, Accomplishments and About if I recall correctly (so it looked a lot like the window you'd get by right clicking on My Computer and selecting Properties, although this was in the Windows 98 days).

I would give potential employers a disk with that and a more traditional resume as well, and I was pretty proud of it until a recruiter told me it was "gimicky". I probably still have a copy buried on some backup disk somewhere, but it was written in HTML and relied heavily on pop-up windows so probably wouldn't work well with modern browsers anyway.

Now that I think about it, that recruiter was probably right.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:36 AM on July 20, 2008

I know that idea probably isn't very helpful for anyone who's not in the computer business, but it was a pretty unusual resume idea if I do say so myself.
posted by JaredSeth at 6:39 AM on July 20, 2008

You'd probably love seeing this singing CV, which earnt the guy a place with Microsoft straight away (says he).
posted by meso at 7:23 AM on July 20, 2008

Here's a list of 36 original CV layouts. Much better and more professional than some of the gimmick ideas shown so far.
posted by furtive at 10:02 AM on July 20, 2008 [5 favorites]

  1. Forget gimmicks, puns, etc. Creative != corny.
  2. Pick a really nice font. 1 single font. Maybe 2.
  3. Lay it out professionally (use a grid, a baseline, not too many font sizes, etc.) and with style. This is the creative part. If you don't know how, find/hire someone who does.
  4. Print it on really nice, slightly heavy paper.

posted by signal at 10:11 AM on July 20, 2008

I saw a letter-press made resume once, silver ink pressed into heavy sage paper. It was a masterful poem of graphic design (job was for an architect.) Very effective.
posted by DenOfSizer at 11:49 AM on July 20, 2008

software engineers commonly list experience with technologies and time: unix 10 years; java 5 years; etc etc. because the technologies overlap, and jobs often involve more than one activity, the total number of years can be much more than the applicant's age. if you have a fair amount of experience the end result can look overblown and rather useless.

instead, i use a small timeline, which might be the kind of thing your boss has seen. the horizontal axis is years, with vertical lines every 10 or so to guide the eye. each technology is a separate horizontal bar, dark in the years when i used it most. the interpretation is obvious.

i've used this for years and never heard negative comments - perhaps that's a selection effect (people who don't like it won't hire me), but even that is not necessarily a bad thing: i am not sure i want to work for someone who objects to an original solution to a common problem just because it doesn't square with tradition (on a similar vein i was once so annoyed with my then-current workplace i included in my cv the desire to work in a tolerant environment; that got my one of my best jobs ever...)

i also once used something like a "mind map" (but those things weren't fashionable then, i guess) as first page of a resume for a postdoc, which i won without an interview.

so if you're able to produce something moderately tasteful then i suggest try it (although this depends on the field - the standards for designers, architects etc are going to be way higher than software engineers and scientific academics!)

of course, this won't make you look great if you're useless - it could take "good" to "interesting", but it won't push "bad" into "average".
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 12:42 PM on July 20, 2008

Here's a list of 36 original CV layouts. Much better and more professional than some of the gimmick ideas shown so far.
posted by furtive at 10:02 AM on July 20

Yeah, so professional that on the very first one, the applicant misspells the word "where."

I would rather see a boring but perfect resume done on a typewriter than a "creative" one where the applicant was so busy trying to make himself look cool that he forgot to proof his work. Those are the employees who, in my industry, cause thousands of dollars in reprints.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:55 PM on July 20, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. I am a chef and the idea of formatting my resume like a menu sounds pretty good. Of course, it's all a matter of executing it properly and not making it corny.

This is an example I just found of a timeline-style resume, albeit one that is a bit confusing to interpret. (It'd probably be better horizontal.)
posted by BradNelson at 4:09 PM on July 20, 2008

A better question might be - does the person hiring me want to figure out my creative resume?
posted by 26.2 at 10:37 PM on July 20, 2008

Best answer: I made a layout that has done me pretty well and received quite a few compliments from my design-friend circle. (...It had a few detractors, too... many of whom had valid points in their criticisms.)

I tried to make something that was fresh and likely to stand-out and get attention... but tried to stay as far away from cutesy or "precious"/gimmick as possible. Tried to lay out the information in ways that could be parsed easily in the first 15 seconds by the person reading it. Depending on who you ask I either succeeded, or fell just short. Even those to whom it did not appeal tremendously didn't dry-heave with contempt, which I took as a personal victory, given my hard-to-please and opinionated test-audience.

Drop me a line if you'd like it in some vector format... good luck. I'll be watching this thread with interest.
posted by cadastral at 1:02 AM on July 21, 2008

I once did a CV which was inspired by the plaque in the Pioneer 10 space probe. I liked the idea since the plaque was supposed to be a sort of CV for the entire human race. On the final version I adapted the radial lines part of the diagram to show technical strengths in different software development languages (length was proportional to expertise). I used something a little bit like the solar system part of the chart to make a timeline of what I had been doing since birth. I decided it better not to include naked line drawings of myself of anybody else. The document did contain all the equivalent information on my CV as a single printable PDF for anybody who could bother to do so.

I enjoyed the whole process but now look at it as incredibly ill advised. In the few months of using it I did get one complement on it from somebody at an agency - but no job offers until I reverted to using something much more conventional design. In the end a portfolio is one thing and a CV is another. Go wild with your portfolio but keep your CV square. [And if you have a really wild alternative design - and are applying for a position where your ability to create this is valid - put it in your portfolio as a separate document]
posted by rongorongo at 6:19 AM on July 21, 2008

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