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CVs: Traditional vs Creative

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Published: 17 June 2021

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Your CV is likely to be the very first thing a potential employer will see of you.

It represents a unique opportunity to stand out from the potentially hundreds of others the recruiter will see.

So, the obvious question is how do you make sure your resume makes a great first impression and ensures you get to the interview stage?

There’s a debate about whether a creative CV is a good idea, or you should just stick to the classic design.

Essentially it comes down to whether the employer will think an innovative resume shows something positive about you or if a professional one implies professionalism.


The most obvious drawback to this kind of CV is it will look the same as the hundreds of others which cross the HR desk of any company you apply for.

That means you’ll have to rely on the actual content of the resume to push you over the line and get you an interview.

On the other side of the argument, a traditional CV could be considered safe, which is not a bad thing.

No recruiter is going to get annoyed at seeing a normal resume. They’ll look through it, being familiar with the format and therefore know to pay attention to the content rather than the design.

That means you need to have a really polished, well-written, clean and to the point CV.

Don't talk too much about your achievements, use one sentence rather than five to explain a point.

Remember, the CV is to get you the interview, you can go into more detail when you’re sat in front of the panel.


The other side of this is the inventive resume, the biggest risk of which is that it will annoy the recruiter if not done right.

You might on occasion, though, be asked specifically for a creative CV.

This can happen with places like marketing and media agencies where the role is likely to need a bit of out-of-the-box thinking to be done well.

There are lots of different kinds of creative resume out in the world. Use colour, images or graphics to show off your design skills, for example.

The aim is to grab the attention of the recruiter, but you need to ask yourself if it’s the right kind of attention.

When you look through your creative CV, try and put yourself in the mindset of the person you’re sending it to.

Ask if it’s understandable or confusing, easy to read or messy. Will they be able to get the information from it they need to offer you an interview?

Each time you do something to your resume that is different from the traditional format think about the reason you’re doing it.

Will it make the CV look cleaner? Does it show off a skill you want them to know you have?

If you just want to stand out for the sake of it, you’re not likely to get very far with that kind of resume.

Make sure you understand your audience. An inventive CV is great for creative industries. But if you’re applying for a Human Resources role it’s probably better to be more traditional.

Whichever style you decide to go for, it’s always a good idea to check it with someone else.

That could be a classmate, colleague, friend or family member. But don’t forget you can also bring it to our Careers and Employability Service.

To have a one-to-one chat with them, book a meeting through Compass.

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