Renata Chunderbalsingh of Sydney, Australia, was seeking a job in market research but needed to compensate for a lack of experience. Her brilliant solution?
Chunderbalsingh printed her resume in the style of a candy wrapper, then wrapped it around an actual bar of Lindt chocolate. At first glance, the resume looks like a chocolate bar, but closer examination of her “Resume Bar” shows her education, skills, and job history in the nutritional and ingredients section. While it was an unusual resume, to say the least, everyone loves chocolate. Every year, the world eats 7.2 million metric tons of chocolate.
And after sending a few of the resume chocolate bars to recruitment agencies, Chunderbalsingh got a bite.
“Not sure if we were bribed or charmed, but either way it prompted a lovely chat with Renata this morning,” said Gemma Lewis of the Resources Group in a delighted LinkedIn post. “I rarely get anything in the post so that was unique in itself. Otherwise some candidates stand out in terms of design, infographics and formatting of CVs, catchy headlines in emails, content in the opening statement or hobbies even, but nothing like this.”
Instead of the plain, black and white resumes and CVs that human resources departments see every day, some creative job applicants are trying to get an edge with unusual resumes, a trend that seems particularly popular in Australia.
In February 2013, a young man named Nick Belling created a humorous video resume, which quickly racked up thousands of YouTube views. And according to the update posted on the video CV, it worked:
After months of hearing nothing from dozens of job applications, I created this video. Three days after I made it public, I was contacted out of the blue by a company who invited me to their office for a chat, and then ultimately extended me a job offer a short time later.
My advice? The best companies don’t want stock-standard employees, so do something to stand out of the pack. I did, and suddenly my options opened up. Now I’m working what I have quickly discovered is my dream job!
Belling isn’t the only applicant with a video CV anymore, which is especially popular among people seeking video production jobs. But be warned: this approach can just as easily backfire. In 2006, a Yale student created an overwrought video resume titled “Impossible is Nothing” and sent it to Wall Street firms. Instead of landing his dream job, he became a laughingstock and one of the first viral video stars.
There’s a reason virtually every guide to resume writing advises job seekers to keep it simple and use the standard, professional resume format. At Undercover Recruiter, John Feldmann writes that these creative resumes often make job seekers stand out in the wrong way.
“However, despite the originality and artistic splendor that these resumes displayed, another descriptor came to mind…overkill. I couldn’t help but wonder how these types of resumes were viewed by employers — as a display of true creative genius, or as a cry for attention from unemployed candidates with too much time on their hands.”
Emphasis very much added.
The human mind responds strongly to visual stimulus, which is why colorful, creative resume ideas make such an impact, especially in a sea of black and white CVs. The eye is naturally drawn to visual displays. Even while driving, 71% of people will still look at billboards and outdoor ads. They can’t help it.
So how can a job seeker decide whether to submit a plain CV or a more creative resume? It depends on the job more than anything else. When job applicants have gotten in trouble for overly weird resumes, it’s because they’ve forgotten that creative doesn’t mean unprofessional.
For instance, this June a career website released a viral map showing the most common unusual keywords listed on the “other interests” section of resumes. Based on 3.5 million resumes, the survey features some truly unbelievable results. Literally, it’s really hard to believe this viral story, and not just because the phrase “common unusual” is a total oxymoron.
While states like Washington and Florida featured sane answers (the environment and Spanish, respectively), the other results were truly off the wall. For future reference, never, ever use any of these words in a resume:
- North Dakota: Pizza
- Rhode Island: Harry Potter
- Maryland: Ghosts
- New Hampshire: Bigfoot
- Oklahoma: Batman
- North Carolina: Kardashians
Remember: in the end, the packaging of a resume matters far less than the content.