Creative vs. Traditional: Which Resume Should You Use?

Estimated reading time: 3 mins

Design technology has become more accessible in recent years, both in terms of affordability and user-friendliness. Many job seekers have used this as an opportunity to spruce up their resume for a more modern, creative approach.

It’s important to remember that just because you can put together a creative, eye-catching resume, doesn’t always mean you should. When it comes to deciding between a creative and traditional resume format, here’s what you need to consider before choosing.

Consider the Job

If you look at resume examples for different industries, you’ll see some variety based on the job being applied for or the background of the candidate. While thinking outside the box is always a good idea when trying to stand out in a crowd, it should be done so in a manner that fits the audience when pertaining to a resume.

For example, someone who works in a creative industry (particularly graphic design) might have a bold, colorful resume that shows off their creative talent and design skills. When this is sent to an analytical-based position in a big business, however, it might fall flat. Even more so, it might show the hiring manager that while you have the skills they’re looking for, you might not be a good fit for the company culture.

There’s always that chance that you may catch the eye of someone who appreciates the creative approach, regardless of the organization. However, it’s best to consider the position itself.

Data Matters

There’s limited real estate available on a resume on which you can add your selling points about your background and experience. In many cases, creative resumes end up limiting that further as they make room for bolder design features. It’s far more important to include the pertinent information and words relevant to the job posting than it is to have that extra element.

While your resume may capture the attention of a human hiring manager, more large businesses are shifting to the use of AI to pre-screen resumes. These Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) detect keywords that relate to the job posting. ATS serves two key functions: one, it reduces the cost of hiring by limiting the involvement of human resources. Secondly, it removes unconscious biases from the pre-screening process. So while a human may appreciate your creative resume, the computer only cares if it has certain words.


As alluded to before, the appeal of a creative resume is originality and visual stimulation. If you really need to stand out or you know that a job has a lot of candidates, taking a well-planned creative approach can help your resume stand out in a pile. After looking through numerous black and white resumes written in 12pt Times New Roman, the edge of a colorful resume peeking out from the middle of the pile has a way of making it to the top.

The Best Approach

Depending on the job, the best approach is to put a creative spin on your traditional resume. Here are a few fun ways to add personality to your resume:

  • Add a touch of color – rather than opting for a vividly colored document, choose one color that will be used for borders or headers. Ensure that these colors hold up when printed in grayscale.
  • Change the font – there are a lot of creative fonts available online that look great on a traditional resume format. This is also an easy way to add a personal touch to a resume template.
  • Add an icon or two – While resumes with images are largely a thing of the past due to social media, having an icon or two that are relevant to your skills can attract the eye of hiring managers without being overwhelming.

Look through various resume templates and see how using columns can create white space, and how a monogram at the top of your resume can add an elegant flair. Unless you’re in marketing, design or another creative field, it’s best to take a creative spin on a traditional approach.

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