Is A Fancy Resume A Waste Of Time?

creative resume benefitsBy Marian Schembari


It's not even big news anymore when someone does something "crazy" to get a job. Whether it's a Google or Facebook advertisement, a shoe in a box, or a resume in Trafalgar Square, job seekers are getting more and more aggressive about standing out.

Personally -- and as someone who has taken these measures -- I love it. The economy blows and the "traditional" resume isn't so much of a necessity anymore, especially for less traditional job seekers. So when I came across Loft Resumes, I was immediately smitten.

According to their website, Loft helps job seekers stand out in a sea of sameness with stylish resumes. Think unique typography, bold colors and graphics. They say, "Show [employers] that you're the type of person willing to invest in the most important document you'll ever create. That just as your resume isn't status quo, neither are you. And that's precisely why they need you." (Someone hired a great copywriter.)

But I was also immediately skeptical. At least $99 for resume design? I thought about how my dear friend and resume writer extraordinaire, Jenny Foss, critiqued my resume last year and gave me some crucial feedback.

I had spiffed it up with some visuals, my logo, etc., and she told me point blank to tone it down. Not because it wasn't pretty, but because many companies use applicant tracking systems, and if you use a lot of graphical elements in your resume, it might not pass through the system.

So I sent Jenny the link to Loft and asked her opinion. "These resumes would be great for someone in a creative/design-centric field who plans to send the resume directly to the inbox of a hiring manager or contact," she replied. "Not so much a good idea for an online application, which will more than likely route the resume through an ATS."

That's when I emailed Loft co-founder Dodd Caldwell. He told me that about 70 percent of jobs are found through personal networking, while 30 percent are found through career boards. "We fit well with those 70 percent," he said. "Great visual design can be a positive add-on for the right folks."

And then, responding to my question about applicant tracking systems, he said, "Our advice for folks who are submitting to places where resume-parsing software may be used is that they have a text version of their resume on hand as well and then use the Loft Resume for interviews and emails."

The takeaway? Hiring a resume writer or paying for a gorgeous design depends on the kind of job you're looking for. If you're eager to work for a small, creative startup, they're sure to respect an out-of-the-box approach. But if your dream is to work for a big corporate, you might offer a resume in a more traditional style.

Now, I've been in the desperately-looking-for-work boat, and each and every time I've gotten my foot in the door has been through growing a pair and standing out. I've never applied to a company who used ATS, though. I hand-delivered (hand-emailed?) all my resumes and almost every single interviewer commented on how much they liked my style.

So there is a place for gorgeously designed resumes that show you're different, while also really awesomely displaying your credentials.

Of course, job seekers are also notoriously broke. But I'm strongly of the mindset that you have to spend money to make money. And when it comes to getting the perfect job, it's hugely important to shell out a bit of dough for a resume that shows you in the best possible light (just like an interview outfit that makes you feel stunning).

Have you ever invested in a service or product to help your job search? Did it pay off?



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