If you’re in a creative profession, you probably know how challenging it can be sometimes to develop informational and engaging resumes for creative jobs. Many creative professionals move from one project to another within a short amount of time, and very few, creative professionals regularly take on long-term projects — if they take them on at all.
All of this project hopping may make you feel nervous about writing a resume to describe your professional endeavors, especially since the traditional resume-drafting advice includes leaving no gaps in your employment history and showing that you can “hold down a job” for more than a few weeks or months. It may leave you saying to yourself, “How do I share my story without seeming unfocused and wishy-washy?” or “Which projects should I include on my resume, and how do I talk about my side project that’s not at all related to what I do as part of my day job?” If you feel confused about how to write a creative resume that stands out, you’re not alone. This is a subject most creative professionals grapple with at one time or another.
While the traditional advice for writing a resume may work for someone who’s applying for an accounting position with a large company, it’s not necessarily the best advice for a freelance graphic designer or a professional musician. Resumes for creative jobs require different strategies for displaying knowledge, skills, abilities, and experience than the more traditional resumes needed for professionals in less creative professions.
Here are 8 tips that will help you learn how to write a creative resume that stands out:
1. Don’t try to include all of your previous jobs.
The best way to approach a creative resume is to take a look at the job or freelance gig you want to apply for and ask yourself which parts of your history really qualify you for the job. And don’t be concerned if this leaves some gaps in your resume. One trick for dealing with some of those gaps is to switch from using months (Sept 2010–May 2011) to using years (2010–2011). Once you’re in an interview, you can talk through any in-between projects that come up.
2. Customize your resumes for creative jobs.
It can be really tempting to create just one resume and use it for each job or gig you apply to, but resume designers warn that you may just lose opportunities by not tailoring your resume. They suggest you try to customize your resume for each field or position, because you want the information on your resume to be directly relevant to job to which you’re applying.
For example, if you want to get hired to redesign a website for a local writer, the six months you spent selling custom-made socks on Etsy might not help you get the gig. However, if you want to get hired to rebrand a craft store chain, you should definitely include it!
If you include specific experiences, skills, or character traits mentioned in the job posting, hiring managers can usually tell you’re sending out standardized application materials. This shows them you have looked closely at the position, and that you are exactly who they are looking for to full it. You can even make it easier to customize your resumes for creative jobs by saving different versions of your resume. For example, maybe you have an editing-focused resume that helps you get videography jobs, and a nonprofit-focused resume to help you land speaking jobs.
3. Broaden your definition of “work experience”.
You might be looking at your creative history and wonder what projects qualify as jobs. The good news about writing creative resumes is that you don’t need to limit yourself to typical, 9-to-5-type jobs with regular shifts and coworkers. For example, maybe you write “Freelance Writer and Content Marketer” as an item of work history and then list your most relevant freelance projects, such as copywriter, for the description.
4. Make it interactive.
As a creative professional, you’ll want to make sure you include links to the creative projects listed throughout your digital resumes for creative jobs. In the header of your resume, you’ll want to include links to any portfolios or personal websites, but you can also make your resume interactive by linking to projects throughout.
For example, if you mention a website you developed, a link to this project will help hiring managers understand your skill level.
Linking to your work is important because it’s not likely that a hiring manager or client will take the trouble to Google you and find your work. Make it easy for them and link to your most relevant work right in your resume.
5. Include numbers in your resume.
If you’re not sure how to write a creative resume that stands out to professionals in more professional fields, consider including numbers about how you improved other organizations’ bottom lines. It can seem strange to include metrics and data in resumes for creative jobs, but it’s a very powerful tool. For example, rather than saying that you “ran the content marketing department” at a nonprofit you worked at, try something like, “I drove 30% more traffic to nonprofit XYZ’s website in two months”. Providing numbers gives clients and hiring managers solid data that shows how successful you would be in the job you’re applying for.
6. Only list your most relevant, creative skills.
It may seem easy to fill up your resume with all of the typical skills, like the ability to use Photoshop and Microsoft Word, but consider that some credentials everyone is expected to have these days may not be as relevant on resumes for creative jobs. Instead, focus on just a few in-demand skills that will be necessary in the job you’re applying for or the freelance gig you’re hoping to snag. Besides, listing everything you’re remotely competent in can take the focus away from the areas where you really shine.
Now that you have a better idea of how to write a creative resume that stands out, it’s time to put your new knowledge to use by creating new resumes for the creative jobs you’re seeking. For more advice about how to write a creative resume that stands out, talk to the resume pundits at Resume Pundits. Resume Pundits’ resume marketing experts are experienced and writing eye-catching, professional resumes for creative professionals.