Should Recruiters Pay Attention to Creative Resumes?

If you’re a LinkedIn user, you’re probably no stranger to seeing a creative CV popping up on your feed. This can be anything from recreating the Netflix homepage to showcase your portfolio or even making a suitcase and travel documents branded to show your skills and background. Creative CVs are seen as a way to do just that, show your creativity. According to the Wall Street Journal, a new phenomenon of resumes beginning to resemble social media profiles, with emojis, headshots, and even bitmojis, is making an appearance.

Often, these creative resumes are made with dedication to one brand like Netflix, Missguided or even really established creative agencies, and show a candidates commitment to working at one place, but above all, they’re intended to show candidates creativity. In this instance, they’re great. You can work out which candidates are passionate about your business enough to go the extra mile in their application. If they can think outside of the box and beyond paper when it comes to a CV, it shows that they’re capable of thinking creatively in the world of work.

 When hiring for creative roles or even UX designers, social media managers or other technical roles which require a degree of creativity to succeed, these resumes are intended to help candidates stand out. However, they could be seen as quite elitist. Often, it’s only a few graduates with the money to put into these CVs or the time to dedicate to perfecting them that achieve the best results, or at least these are the ones you see all over LinkedIn. But just how successful are they?

Does it help candidates to stand out?

In today’s competitive and candidate-driven job market, hiring managers can spend as little as seven seconds looking at a CV as they’re under pressure to screen quickly. Therefore, it’s not surprising that job seekers may want to add a little creativity to their applications in a bid to help them stand out and capture attention. So, in principle, a creative CV should hold the gaze of a hiring manager for a little bit longer, but again there are some complications. Firstly, if you’re trying to show your skills or experience creatively, it may be harder for hiring managers to find the information they’re looking for. Trying to be too clever or too creative could fail as it could be harder to interpret some of the key points that you wish to stand out, but that very much depends on the layout and design you opt for. Remember that relevance is what’s important to recruiters. Fancy layouts don’t prove candidates can work (unless it’s for a creative design role).

However, there is another crucial point. Many talent teams are now using AI to initially screen candidates. These algorithms look for keywords and phrases to filter out skilled candidates. Therefore, if candidates are trying to be creative, say, by visually representing these skills through icons, it may not be picked up by the machine learning tools. Plus, depending on the nature of the CV, it may not even be able to be uploaded to the system. This means that employers could lose out on skilled candidates purely because the machine doesn’t understand. These CVs may stand out to the human eye, but in a recruitment market where more and more companies rely on technology to assist with screening, it could be a bad idea.

Can it showcase skills?

There is a place for creative CVs to help hiring managers make skills-based decisions. In fact, if candidates can show they’re capable through the CV, it could eliminate the need for skills tests which cuts down the recruitment process. However, this is very industry-dependent. Creative industries and roles lend themselves to visual, dynamic and interactive CVs. It’s a way for candidates to show what they can do rather than say it. But in some industries, it won’t be appropriate. Hiring managers and recruiters often want the skills, experience and capabilities in an easy to find form, not being distracted with skills in the style of a menu or travel itinerary. If anything, these wildly creative CVs seem like more of a way for candidates to showcase their talents on LinkedIn, to broaden their network and get kudos, rather than appeal to a hiring manager.

It may be worth asking candidates in a creative or UX Design role to upload a portfolio alongside their CV. This way, you can ask them to show their skill set while having a standard resume that is easy to decipher.

Could it set back your diversity efforts?

As more employers try to prioritise diversity and equality in their organisation, creative CVs could cause issues. We don’t necessarily mean adding a bit of colour or imagery to a word document, more these lavish CVs and applications dominating the internet tailored to an employer of choice. This could be digital or using a bit of creativity to turn objects into your CV, but they often look costly and time-consuming. It means that these candidates have access to specific software, which could be expensive, or they have the resources to produce an extravagant physical CV. But what does this mean for the socio-economic diversity of your organisation? If a business hired everyone who sent a huge parcel to their door, does this mean you’re only hiring the candidates who can buy their way into being impressive? Are you hiring based on skills and actual creativity or access to be able to do so in a loud and bold way?

Just because one developer has the money to make an app as part of their application, it doesn’t make them a more skilled software developer than one with a standard CV; it just means they had more capabilities accessible to them.

So, what’s the conclusion?

Creative resumes are an excellent way for candidates to show their skills and stand out from the pack, but this only assumes that hiring managers don’t use screening software and AI. These tools aren’t designed to decipher complex and creative CVs, and so without human intervention, hiring managers could miss out on skilled candidates. With this becoming more commonplace in recruitment practices, the likelihood is, these CVs will rarely be assessed.

If the role and industry are correct, then a creative CV may be the way to go. For example, a developer trying to show you that they can build websites to a high standard or a graphic designer trying to hire managers at a leading agency. However, as recruiters and hiring managers, it may be better to ask for these as extras that compliment an application with a standard CV submitted alongside. This creates a level playing field and ensures recruitment is fair. In addition, it puts all candidates on par at the beginning so that only those with the right skills and experiences for your business have portfolios and supporting documents reviewed. Then, hiring managers are not distracted by the gimmicky or costly applications tailored to their business.

These eye-catching CVs may help boost a candidates LinkedIn profile and undoubtedly show that they can think outside of the box, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the right candidate for you. Of course, a creative CV shows dedication and passion for the company, but it’s not to say that this candidate is any better than one who hasn’t had the time or capability to create one. So don’t let colours and design distract from the key information, or you could end up hiring again.

Talent Works are specialists in recruiting for technical and creative roles, helping our clients to surround themselves with the best tech talent, from UX designers to software engineers.

If you need help with the screening process, or any other aspect of recruitment, our flexible approach to RPO could help.

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