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Be creative (but not too creative) with your CV

Be creative (but not too creative) with your CV

Be creative (but not too creative) with your CV
Danielle de Wolfe
28 January 2014

Job application on a pizza box? It’s not that simple. But from video résumés to billboard ads, the CV is no longer just a piece of A4…

There’s a scene in Arrested Development that finds aspiring actor Tobias Fünke (David Cross) posting out copies of his CV in glitter-filled envelopes to stand out from the crowd. The next scene shows a casting director covering her entire workspace in glitter and yelling “Never hire Tobias Fünke!” at the top of her voice.

There's a lesson here. Business site Forbes has reported on a CV sent to employers in Klingon, a CV that had to be sung aloud to the tune of The Brady Bunch, and a CV taped to a lemon containing the statement, “I am not a lemon”. These reports, if you’re wondering, were all filed under the headline ‘Biggest résumé mistakes’, rather than ‘Most successful job applications’.

Getting yourself noticed without getting yourself ridiculed is a tricky balance to strike. So, are music-video CVs and alien-language pitches the way forward? James Webb, commercial director at digital recruitment agency Propel London, thinks not. “Video CVs and these other kinds of ‘left-field’ applications aren’t something we’re seeing much of,” he tells us. “If you’re applying to a forward-thinking start-up in Shoreditch, then an innovative CV taped to a pizza box or a music video résumé might catch their attention. But bigger organisations don’t have time for that; you simply need to tell them as quickly and comprehensively as possible what you do and why you’d be good for their business.”

But how can you make your CV stand out if it’s not daubed in glitter or Blu-Tacked to fruit? “A key thing is to show you have more to offer than just your skillset,” says Webb. “We don’t need to know that you’re an Oyster Card holder – and, yes, I have seen that on CVs – but including relevant extra-curricular activities such as running marathons is great. It’s also vital to say why you are interested in the particular company you’re applying for.”

Perhaps getting creative with how you display this interest is the best approach. It worked for designer Eric Gandhi, who landed an interview at Google last year by laying his CV out exactly like a search result page, headed up with the line: “Did you mean: Eric Gandhi? (Top result shown)”. Now, that’s outside-the-box thinking that won’t land your CV inside the bin.