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Resumes: How Creative and Visual Should They be for Different Jobs and Industries?

Yes, you want your resume to stand out, but are you creating them the right way for the job you want? Zarina Abu Baker, a senior career coach, reveals more.

Resume trends have evolved in recent years. Candidates are becoming more media savvy, and that is creating higher expectations from recruiters.

Yet one thing hasn’t changed – they want to receive resumes that will clearly showcase your background and skills, and you’ve only got six seconds or less to create an impression, according to HR experts.

The last thing you want to do is turn your potential employer off with a resume that screams: “Trying too hard”, or “I’m a showboat”. Employers are generally wary of hiring candidates who might have inflated views of themselves, because there are decent odds that they might be hard to work with.

The sad part is that candidates may not actually be difficult- it is just their resumes that are rubbing hiring managers the wrong way!

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So, what is the right resume style for the right job?

As resume templates go, there are usually three established ones: content-based resumes, visual resumes, or portfolio resumes.

Zarina Abu Bakar, a certified Career Practitioner with Workforce Singapore (WSG) explains: “Generally, the content-based resume is preferred by both jobseekers and employers.

“However, if you are applying for a role where you are required to showcase your creativity (e.g., a lifestyle writer, marketing communications), you may want to employ a few strategic visuals in the resume to enhance your professional branding.

“Portfolio resumes are usually suitable for professionals with a body of work that is hosted elsewhere and can’t be showcased by a resume (e.g., graphic design artist, Youtuber content creator, blog writer)”.

And Zarina certainly knows her stuff! In the past 13 years, she has specialised in helping professionals through career exploration and coaching on resumes, job interviews and professional branding, helping over 3,000 professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) to move into careers that align with their career values, interests and strengths.

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Some do’s and don’ts for resume formats

Beyond the visuals, content is really king when it comes to your resume. It doesn’t matter how slick or creative your visual resume is – what matters is what is within it.

If you’re still scratching your head, Zarina shared some key fundamentals to crafting your resume below.

Do:

  • Customise your resume to each job application
  • Include your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in your Career Summary
  • Include Key Achievements in your resume and quantify them
  • Get feedback from a 3rd party person
  • Use consistent font size (not more than 2 types and sizes)

Don’t:

  • Use the same resume version for all job applications
  • Have huge chunks of text with little white space
  • Use generic statements such as ‘hardworking’ and ‘motivating’
  • Lie about your skills and achievements
  • Add confidential information or information that may create bias (e.g. age or NRIC)

Read More: Making Sure Your Portfolio Interests Employers: How to Build a Unique Skillset

Visual and portfolio resumes can be used for networking

The thing is, resumes with PDFs, infographics and cool visuals tend not to be applicant tracking software (ATS)-friendly, so going with these can be a problem if you’re sending them out generically.

But if you’ve got references, they can be effective in making an impression.

Think of visual resumes as a quick way to share who you are and what you’re about an as employee. Research suggests that visual images are actually processed 60,000 times faster than text.

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What tools are good to use to create resumes?

Well, even our writer working on this article right now is using Microsoft Word, so that’s your first and easiest option. However, there are also resume generators such as www.cvmaker.com and www.resume.io.

For visual resumes, you can head to www.canva.com. They’ve got hundreds of professionally designed visual resume templates, and drag and drop design tools that you can tweak to personalise your content.

Good luck with your job search!

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