How to Write a Resume for an Artsy Job – What’s the Right Amount of Creativity?

creative resume

Graphic designers and other artistic folks are sometimes encouraged to be creative with their resumes.  Instead of sticking to a strictly traditional text-only format with the usual bullet points and bolded headers, they’re told to take a risk: design a resume that reflects something of their creative talent.

Some job applicants have done this successfully. They’ve designed resumes incorporating beautiful graphics and unusual layouts; sometimes the resume is shaped into an object of some kind, such as a literal road map of the applicant’s career.

But is using a creative resume always a good idea? When considering how to write a resume, what are the pros and cons of creative resumes?


  • You could really stand out from other applicants – in a good way.
  • In the resume itself, you’re providing a strong example of your aesthetic sensibility and your skills in action.
  • In style and tone, the resume fits with your personal website, online portfolio, and any other sites showcasing your skills; prospective employers who find you through these sites could download the resume and get yet another clear example of your creativity.


  • You could really stand out from other applicants – in a bad way.  Maybe your prospective employer will hate the design and come to the conclusion that it’s the only kind of work you’re capable of producing.
  • It’s possible to go overboard with creativity, and sacrifice the clarity of the resume to the flashiness of the design.
  • Depending on how you submit the resume, the formatting may wind up getting messed up, so be careful.  Also, if the company is running resumes through a scanning software to pick up keywords, in some cases the scanner may have trouble picking up words from creative resumes (but maybe only in cases of truly crazy fonts and designs).

General advice:

  • Research the companies you’re applying to.  Do they have specific rules for how they want their resume formatted? If so, go with those.  Ask yourself if a prospective employer seems more traditional and buttoned-up, or more open-minded.  And look at the job description.  If the skills you’re showing off with your creative resume are important to the job, it’s more incentive for you to get creative.
  • Have a back-up traditional resume you could use too.  If needed, submit that one when applying to a given job, while keeping a creative resume on your website (and attached to your Linkedin profile).
  • When designing the creative resume, don’t go overboard.  Make sure the text is always clear and not swamped by the graphics.  Don’t use bizarre, unreadable fonts or choices for background colors that make the words disappear.  Have other people look it over to get their impression; make sure the content jumps out, and that the reader doesn’t have to squint or get frustrated searching for the relevant info.

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