Creative vs. Traditional Resume: Which is Right for You?

“Why do resumes have to look so boring?”

I get asked this question from time to time, and I’m right there with you. We’re told to stick to black and white, traditional fonts, and a standard layout. It can get a little bit dull–for the applicants, and the people reading the resumes. What gives?

Creative resumes have a bit more flavor: perhaps a personal logo, interesting fonts or graphics, or color throughout the document. They become an extension of your personal brand and portfolio, matching your personality and tone through design elements.

So how do you know when to use a traditional vs. creative resume?

If the industry calls for it

Are you applying to a job in a creative industry such as fashion, design, or the arts? Professionals in industries like these are much more favorable to creative resumes. In many cases, a creative resume is even expected.

Seeking a position in banking, consulting, finance? These industries stick strictly to the traditional style resumes. If the organization that you’re applying to is known to have a more formal work environment, it’s also a safe bet to use the traditional style.

When in doubt, use a traditional style resume.

If your expertise calls for it

Perhaps you’ve worked in a more traditional industry or organization, but in a creative role.

A good example of this is someone who has worked in a university library system as a new media specialist or information scientist who is trying to transition to a visual specialization role within a corporation. The resume would be a good place to demonstrate these visual specialization skills!

Another example is someone who has served as a PR specialist within the corporate setting. Although they may be applying within a traditional industry or organization, this person should showcase their branding skills as a PR specialist through their own personal brand, resume included.

How much is too much?

If you do decide that a creative resume may be a good fit for you, think about how much style and color would be appropriate to inject. We’ve probably all seen examples floating around the internet that are over the top (i.e. themed resumes, cheesy or gimmicky documents). Remember, this document is a reflection of you and what you would bring to the table. A simple logo or interesting font for your name plus a bit of color can go a long way.


Not sure where to start? Try out Canva, a great online resource to create graphic elements and check out my Pinterest board with examples for inspiration!