When it comes to creating a resume that will get you noticed by an employer, advice tends to focus on standard formatting rules. One sheet of paper. Bullet points. Action words. Triple-check your spelling and grammar.
But what if you’re a creative person looking to attract a similarly creative company? I’ve noticed in the 140+ Tweet Feed that more companies are asking potential employees to be creative in the hiring process—a great way to find people who fit the work culture. Carsonified is one of those companies. They recently posted a job for a web designer, and since the job requires someone who is passionate about the web, Carsonified encouraged applicants to be creative—meaning no resumes or CVs. They found their ideal candidate in Allison House:
Allison House sent me a link to a page she designed specifically for the job application. The first thing that struck me is that it was beautiful. Now that she had my attention visually, I proceeded to read the copy. It was well written, clever, friendly, showed she was knowledgeable, and demonstrated a detailed knowledge of Carsonified.
Normally, I’d right-click to view the source (all web designers should be able to write clean, semantic markup). However, Allison made the effort of specifically pointing out that she cares about writing beautiful markup, and linked to a new page where that displayed the unstyled markup. Awesome.
I still viewed the source of the page to double check that it was semantic and clean. It was even written in HTML5. Points = Points + 1.
Whether it’s a job posting specifying no traditional resumes, portfolios and links only, or no resumes at all, it’s important for professional writers to adapt their job search tactics in kind. Just think of it as another form of resume customization. To find out more about using non-traditional resumes, I talked to Josh Compton, a student in the Professional Writing program at Michigan State University.
What made you create a non-traditional resume?
My resume came about as a part of how I’m trying to market myself. I classify myself as a Writer, Content Strategist, Designer, and Photographer. I’m also a young professional full of new ideas and techniques to solve both old and new problems. I felt, especially with my background in design and content strategy, I needed to have a resume that broke from the MS Word Resume templates. I’m an information organizer, and I do it with flair…what better platform to convey that with my resume?
Prospective employers have myriad resumes and cover letters to pour through on a daily basis, and if you only provide a link to your portfolio—no matter how kick-ass it may be—on a flat, mundane resume that looks just like the rest in the pile, you’re not going to get very many hits on your site.
Do you also have a standard resume on file?
Nope…if they don’t like what I’m showing them, they can find someone that fits in their box.
Do you think your non-traditional resume appeals to both traditional and non-traditional companies?
Honestly, I’m not looking for some crusty old company satisfied with the status quo…I’m selling myself as someone that’s going to shake things up, find new solutions and challenge the way things are. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from traditional companies, but they’re usually trying to get out of the rut of normal for normalcy’s sake. Non-traditional companies have eaten my resume up…I’ve gotten three emails in the last two weeks asking to meet about negotiating the terms of a position…meaning they’d hire me on the spot.
How would you categorize your current employer?
Spartan Internet is an Internet strategy company specializing in refining a site’s performance and the strategy for content. A lot of companies come to Spartan because they want a better web presence. They’re practically required to come up with new ways to get things done, so I’d say they fit right into what I was looking for in an employer.
My boss has also gone on record as saying that he gives his employees enough creative freedom to get themselves in trouble, but enough guidance and support to make things work. He wants people with enough balls to try new things.
What reactions did you get to your resume?
I took mine to a career fair at Spartan Stadium, and companies loved it. That’s how I got my job, actually. I saw several people star my resume, and annotate the crap out of it before it went into the pile, and even though I took the position with Spartan, I’m still getting offers.
I would like to say, though, that just because my resume stands out, you also need the personality and the knowledge to back it up. I have a solid elevator speech that I worked on for two weeks in Mike McLeod’s Advanced Web Authoring class, I make it a point to just ooze confidence when I’m talking with prospective employers and I’m tirelessly reading articles and networking with thought leaders in my field of interest. The resume is just a way for employers to remember me when they take their pile of prospective interns and employees back to the office.
As Josh touches on, it’s not just your resume that matters. Networking in your field of interest goes a long way in getting your name out there. Even if you’re not actively looking for work, a tweet or a Dribbble can get you hired. And as we’ve highlighted before, beautifully designed leave-behinds are another way to leave a lasting impression. How are you standing out from the crowd?