A tricky question, considering designers want to showcase their creativity, right? =) Here is what I think (for UX/Product designers) – I don’t mind creative formats, however, I haven’t seen a good example that combines creativity with the functional purpose of a resume. I believe that resumes are not great to answer the questions that the hiring folks have in their head when they evaluate applicants. I think this is a pretty bad “deliverable” for this. However, this is what almost every company uses today and you have to adapt to this reality (cases, when you can “wing it” by using an unconventional approach, are exceptions).

From this perspective, the main purpose of a resume is to answer some high-level questions for the person who has a minute to do a quick screening scan of an application – Do key achievements, skills, and responsibilities match the role they are hiring for? Did they work for reputable and known brands/companies (ideally, from the same industry? Are their previous job titles relevant to the role they are hiring for? Do they do job-hopping? Does their experience level match what this job entails? Etc. And these answers have to be consumable in the fastest and easiest format possible (aka a bullet-point list).

Also, very often the first person (recruiter) looking at your resume has very little understanding of your job. They are given a set of characteristics to look for by the hiring manager, which usually has a list of responsibilities and skills. The recruiter’s job here is to match what applicants have on their profile and what the job’s requirements are, and the simplest and fastest way to do this is by scanning through a list (the resume). And with the high number of applicants, they have to go through a lot of sifting, and in most cases sifting through a lot of irrelevant and unqualified applications. It’s a paradox of the job applications – many people do not apply if they see that they don’t check off every job requirement (which is not right, you should), and on the other hand, many other people also apply to everything even remotely relevant (spray and pray approach). This adds more clutter to a recruiter’s to-sift-through list and doesn’t help more qualified candidates. This is a problem.

As a (band-aid) solution to the problem of too-many-unqualified applications, more and more companies are starting to use automated screening tools, which rely on keyword search and matching. Most of them cannot read creatively formatted resumes correctly, and you may be left out if the right keywords did not get enough matches.

However, I think there is a way to find a good balance between the creative resume format and readable and scannable content that the automated systems can decode, as well. It’s a matter of ROI and if all this additional effort (testing and iterating your resume) is really worth it. This is the biggest question. Would you rather spend this extra time working on your own side project? Would you rather learn a new skill? Would you rather build more quality relationships? Considering that resumes are essentially a broken part of the process, is it worth perfecting your temporary resume or invest this time and effort in some more long-term fundamental things?

PS this topic is so big, might do a separate dedicated post later (or a podcast/video).

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