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Job Hunting, Resumes & Cover Letters

Unique Resumes: Effective or Freaky?

A few days ago a colleague who was looking at resumes for a job search review showed me a resume from a jobseeker. At first my reaction was that it was too unorthodox for my ultra-conservative job searching mentality. As I looked at it a little more, I warmed up to it.

The resume was for a furniture designer. His skills, experience and education were listed, but the document also showed previous designs and schematics of some of his most notable work.  The resume almost looked like a design board. I realized that for his line of work, this style would be effective. Why not use it?

Stand out?

Back in 2010, when the economy bottomed out and employers had larger talent pools to choose from, the approach was to do anything you could to stand out from the crowd. That meant trying new ideas in resumes, job applications, and any other first-line attention-getters. The goal was, and still is, to get the employer to notice you.

The question to ask is, once the employer has noticed you, what is going to be his first impression of you? Are you just thinking outside the box? or outside the planet?

Unique and original resume ideas CAN work—if they accomplish the goal of making the jobseeker look innovative and not just loony. Is the theme of the resume in keeping with your line of work?

Take this imaginative resume for example. The theme of a vinyl record for a disc jockey is perfectly appropriate. Employers considering this job candidate can easily discern what message the job seeker is trying to convey.



This resume combines visual appeal with relevant statistics, again effectively presenting material important to employers in a way appropriate to the position sought. At first glance, however, one might ask—is this really a resume?


“Old School” Employers

It has been my experience that experimenting with different resume and cover letter styles don’t always sit well with so-called “Old School” employers and recruiters. I created a simple cover letter format featuring a table comparing the job requirements and the candidate’s qualifications:

While some employers were impressed, others wanted something more traditional.

How Creative Should You Get?

A resume is a highly individual document. Just as no two people are ever alike, neither should their resumes be. What works well for one person, one profession, one skill set, one employment history, or one employer’s corporate culture may not work for another. As such, it would be completely inappropriate for a career counselor to tell a person what they should or shouldn’t use to make their resume a fitting demonstration of themselves. Some things you might want to ask yourself, however, are:

  • What is my career goal?
  • Is this idea in line with that goal?
  • What do I know about the employer?
  • Will that employer be likely to be receptive to that idea?
  • What will their impression of me be, and is it the impression I intend?
  • Does my idea really show the level of talent and skill necessary for this job?

Or is it just a distraction?


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.



  1. Pingback: Promote Yourselves With a Quality Resume - June 20, 2012

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