Creativity unplugged

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi

Illustration: Satheesh Vellinezhi   | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi


Creative or traditional, recruiters spend only seconds on each CV. So, what makes for an arresting resume?

It is not easy to get your curriculum vitae noticed. Especially with the volume of competition that Gen Y faces. According to a study by, recruiters spend about just six seconds on each CV they receive. This means job-seekers have a lot to prove in this brief time and the little space a single A4 sheet affords.

Aakash Neeraj Mittal, an alumnus of IIT Kharagpur, tailored his CV to represent a Flipkart product page, for their associate programme manager role. His CV went viral earlier this year. “They (Flipkart) were going to choose two or three people out of the 1,500 that were to apply. I knew that if I went the traditional way, I wouldn’t make it to the interview. So, I thought of doing something crazy,” explains Aakash. “They wanted someone who knew the art of selling a product and could think out-of-the-box, so I showed them those qualities this way.”

Search YouTube for ‘creative CVs’ and several results pop up — dozens of motion-graphic, or stop-motion CVs as well as tutorials on how to make them. Yes, YouTube CVs are now a trend. To stay competitive today, it may no longer be enough to present the same staid and formulaic CV to recruiters.

Of this competitive environment, Aakash says, “Supply is much greater than demand. So, you must put in extra effort. That doesn’t necessarily mean your CV should be visually attractive or colourful. It can be as simple as a black and white A4 CV but there should be something in it which can catch anybody’s attention.”

There is still debate among recruiters about whether a creative CV is as acceptable as a traditional one. Aakash explains, “There are two types of recruiters —one who loves creativity and prefers a candidate who doesn’t follow a queue and the other, still traditional in the way they think.”

Sian Havard, a recruiter with 10 years’ experience recruiting across Asia Pacific (APAC), Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), USA and founder of Milkshake Group, a career coaching consultancy. She says, “If someone knows how to use design elements well, they can definitely enhance their CV if they are applying for a role requiring creative skills, or a role at a company which doesn’t take itself too seriously. Submitting a creative CV gives you the chance to stand out, showcase your skills and increase the likelihood of a recruiter clicking through to check out your portfolio. But if done badly, design elements can detract from your application, so they should be used with care.”

Sian adds, “Design elements wouldn’t necessarily resonate as well in an extremely corporate environment, or if the person is applying for non-design related positions like finance or medicine. Remember, just because your design skills are excellent, if there are spelling and grammatical errors or your experience isn’t aligned to the job requirements, your application likely won’t progress.”

But one thing is for sure, a creative CV is something that can help you get noticed. If you’re a design newbie, Aakash says, “Photoshop and Google are enough. Photoshop to design the CV and Google to help you out when you get stuck with Photoshop.”

If you would like to tread the middle ground — keep the professional CV, but add a touch of colour and maybe some infographics — you could use online tools such as Enhancv, Kinzaa or Novorésumé. Even good old Microsoft Word has some fresh-looking CV templates in their latest update.

Sian says, “If you’re starting from scratch, a template is a good idea as it will give you some structure to build from. You can start with it, then change elements as you go to make it feel more personal for both you and the recruiter reviewing it.”

Build an online presence for occasions when you feel like a more creative representation of yourself is the way to go; for example,, or a personal website that you can build for free. It’s also never a bad idea to put together a portfolio of your past projects and experience on GitHub/GitLab, Porterfolio, Bēhance or YouTube, depending on your intended profession.

Once you have assembled the various incarnations of your CV, use your discretion to dictate which one should go with which application. Sian shares some words of advice, “If you’re applying to a large company, chances are they have an Applicant Tracking System which will display your CV in a certain way. Not all file types will be accepted or show up the way you imagine.

If in doubt, stick to a simple black and white template in an easy to read file type and include links to a portfolio so the recruiter can see your creative work.”

If you’re wondering where Aakash’s viral CV finally landed him, after he received 14 job offers and invitations to join startups as co-founder, he’s now a successful business analyst at a technology-based transportation network company.

“This CV has changed my life,” he says.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 7:15:42 PM |

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