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Career Advice

Creative CVs: a go, or a no?

When the job market is difficult, it can be tricky to make your CV stand out from the crowd. When one hundred or so people are applying for the same vacancy, how do you make your slip of white paper pop to a tired HR manager who’s sifting through a sheaf of CVs from eloquent, presentation-conscious candidates that are all qualified to a similar level?

Recently, quite a few ‘creative’ CVs have gone viral: they’re infographics, videos and images which put across qualifications in an engaging , and occasionally beautiful way. So is a creative CV the way to go?

Well, Arrested Development fans might remember the episode in which character Tobias Fünke, an aspiring actor, sends headshots to a number of agencies in the hope of getting booked. He stuffs the envelopes with glitter, sweets and a note saying “I know where you live, ha ha!” The scene then cuts to a glitter-covered casting director making a note: ‘Never employ Tobias Funke’.

The point is it can be all too easy to go in the wrong direction, and create a CV which isn’t just unappealing: it’s downright irritating. And if you’re applying for a job that’s not artistic, like an insurance job at Direct Line Group, it can emphasise the wrong qualities to your potential employer.

To illustrate the point, take a look at a CV which went viral for all the wrong reasons.

Aleksey Vayner, a student at Yale, was attempting to get a job with UBS, a large financial company in America. His resume consisted of an eight page writing sample, a one-and-a-half page resume and a seven minute video. Vayner’s achievements and qualities were explored in depth, including his ability to bench press, play tennis, chop bricks in half with his bare hands and ski proficiently.

There are times when dramatic CVs will get you noticed, but for non-creative financial roles it’s best to let your qualifications do the talking.

If you’re looking for a way to make your CV stand out, you can stamp your personality on the paper in a myriad of subtle ways which won’t rub the recruiter up the wrong way. Why not play with your font? Find something businesslike among the Arial fonts, as well as Verdana, Calibri, and anything non-Serif (without curly bits): they’ll look business-like, but perhaps not as stuffy as Times New Roman.

Adding a creative header (get inspiration online, and have a look at Word templates) will also make you stick out in a big stack of white.

Creative with the truth?

 And it’s estimated that a lot of people get creative with their CVs in a completely different way – in the non-truthful sort of way. But in this age of the internet, it’s certainly best not to lie on your resume: by all means cast your qualities in a positive light, but don’t make problems for yourself with claims that aren’t true. At best, you’ll end up with a job you’re unprepared for; at worst, you’ll end up viral.

Just ask Aleksey: several doubts have been cast on the veracity of Vayner’s claims since 2006. It’s been suggested that the person appearing in the downhill skiing segment of his CV video isn’t actually him, and that he’s previously made redoubtable statements about his tennis ability (he’s allegedly said before that he’d won two games against Pete Sampras). Things took a more serious turn when it was discovered that Vayner’s ‘charity’ was being investigated for fraud, and the claims about its ranking as a non-profit organisation were denied by the officiating body for charities in the US.


 The one thing you’ve got left to do is make sure your CV is delivered to your potential employer in its original, gloriously easy-to-read form. If you’re posting, double and triple check the address and try and find out a person to post it to, rather than just the company. If you’re e-mailing, check which format the potential employer wanted your resume so it’s straightforward for them to download.

And triple-check you’ve attached the right thing! We’ll leave you with the cautionary tale of this girl, who added a bit of show biz glamour to her job application completely by mistake when, instead of attaching her CV and a cover letter to her job inquiry, she accidentally attached a picture of Nicolas Cage.

This is a guest post for TheEmployable


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