The Search for Creativity in Developing Your Own Resume

Recently I've spent some time reflecting about my career, what I've managed to achieve and figuring out what should be my next step. While doing this, I've read my LinkedIn resume and couldn't help notice how boring it is. Even though I did my best to include the biggest highlights of my career, it doesn't seem able to truly put them into the spotlight and make me stand-out from a crowd of project managers. Nor does it truly reflect my personality and project management style.

Then, I asked myself (and Google): how can I create a resume which says the big picture about me and my career in just a few seconds? Read on to see what I managed to find out.

The (Creative) Visual Resumes

The trend, which seems to have started 2-3 years ago, is to create so called "creative" resumes. In a nutshell, they are visual representations of your resume, which generally summarize the big highlights of one's career. To understand more about them, check out this great roundup of 40 Stunningly Creative Resume Designs.

As you can easily see, the trend exists mostly in the "creative" fields of graphic design, illustration, typewriting, etc. Since they are made by graphic designers, they obviously look great and say a lot about the designer's skills, creativity and personality. Browsing through them, I couldn't help wondering: in the world of designers, do they really stand out? Aren't "creative" resumes already the norm which no longer makes them creative but just a requirement of the status quo in this field? I guess this is a subject for another debate...

Personal Resume 2010 by =heeeeman on deviantART

However, if you are talking about other fields such as project management, finance, software development, human resources, etc - such a resume would really be "creative" and would really stand out in the crowd. Then the question rises...

How Do You Create a Visual Resume If You are Not a Graphic Designer?

Your usual project manager or corporate worker doesn't have the skills to create such a thing. Then, what do you do to develop a "creative" resume which stands out?

One way would be to hire a graphic designer or ask a friend with such skills to help. However, this can be expensive to create and maintain. If you want to change something or add relevant experience in a year or two, you need to start from scratch. Also, you cannot easily modify a design created in specialized solutions such as Adobe Illustrator. This not what I call scalable and practical. :)

While thinking about this, one other idea grew on me: if you analyze the resumes shown earlier, you realize that they are highly graphic and visual because they are describing people searching for positions in the world of graphic design. That's what they do for a living.
Then, wouldn't it be better for us to create a resume which is relevant to the type of experience and positions we are looking for?
Wouldn't that speak in better way about us and who we really are as professionals?

Develop Creative Resumes Relevant to Your Area Expertise

For example, if you are a software developer, wouldn't it be better for you to write your resume in code?. Apparently, J.P. Hamilton, a software craftsman from Texas, agrees with me and started his quest to develop his code resume. I am really curios how it will look like when done.
Think about it! A code resume will quickly express his software development skills and creativity in this area of expertise. Wouldn't this speak a lot more about him than your traditional piece of paper or a graphical resume? In the software development world, quality code is more important than visuals or how good you are at summarizing your experience in a traditional resume format.

My big dilemma now is: what would be a creative & relevant resume format for a project manager?

I've thought briefly about this and, if I were to summarize my work in keywords, the list would include: people, communication, presentations, phone conferences, mind maps, plans, schedules, critical paths, money, risks, etc.
Not many keywords which describe communication tools. The only useful resume media which come to mind are Microsoft Powerpoint and Microsoft Project.

What if a "creative" project manager summarizes his career with the use of Microsoft Powerpoint? Sounds OK, very doable by anyone but not that creative. In the end, aren't we all tired about slides?

What if a project manager summarizes his career as a project schedule, with the critical path including the most important sections of his experience? Doesn't sound that bad, is it? Plus, it is relevant to this field of expertise and says more about our scheduling skills than a piece of paper would.

Is the Traditional Resume Totally Irrelevant?

While thinking about this subject, one question refused to let go: Is the traditional resume truly irrelevant? I mean, it no longer helps you to stand out and it is mostly dry lecture.
However, if you careful think about it, the answer is "no, it is not totally irrelevant and, most probably, it will never become irrelevant".

And here's why: in most companies, the people who read all the resumes, schedule interviews, etc, are people from the human resources department. Imagine them reading a code resume or a Microsoft Project schedule resume. They wouldn't even know how to open it, let alone read it and understand it. Plus, there will always be someone involved in the recruitment process who doesn't have the expertise in your area but is that one manager who needs to approve you, just because that's how the process works in that company.

This category of people will always need a resume copy in the standard format.
Plus, the "creative" resume most probably won't include everything the employer needs to know, just the main highlights. And while this is useful in the beginning to capture the interest of the employer, the recruitment process will also go through the details of your career. The classic resume will be good at summarizing the details. The creative one most probably won't.

What Do You Think?

Before you go, I am very curios to know your opinion on the subject. What do you think about creative resumes vs. the classic ones? Which one is more relevant in your opinion? Also, do you have any ideas for how it is best to create a resume relevant to the project management profession? Am willing to experiment with any tip you have and share the results on the site.

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It's great to be innovative

It's great to be innovative with your resume and to do something to make it stand out from the crowd. But remember what you think of your resume is not the important thing, it is what the person reading it thinks.

I don't know, but my guess is, that many people hiring graphic designers are other designers or at least people in creative industries. Many people hiring project managers are not project managers. So creating a CV to appeal to a project manager may not be the best idea. Think about what the person hiring would find interesting, exciting and different.

I would avoid being totally innovative just for the sake of creativity - it may be unfortunate, but many of the people I come across hiring project managers are pretty conservative - especially in the corporate world. On the other hand if you are using your resume to get a job as a project manager for an innovative startup or a media company, then showing your creativity may really work.

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