Are Creative Resumes a Thing?

One LinkedIn user is teaching others it’s okay to break the rules on job applications. Resumes don’t have to be plain, black, and white when applying to jobs.

According to Laurel Burns, sometimes resumes may need a splash of color. Or, in her case, a little video game content may do the trick.

On Burns’ LinkedIn cover picture, she placed a colorful map of her resume that portrays what appears to be a Super Mario Brothers level. When she saw the reactions people had to her creativity, she decided to sell custom designs.

Image Credit: Laurel Burns.

She’s charging $75 for Mario designs and $200 for all other designs due to the time it takes to create the graphics from scratch. Burns does not make the banners herself. Instead, she has an in-house graphic designer who created the banner for her and would create other banners too.

“I always wanted to be flying Mario as a kid. There was no option for girls until Princess Peach, and even then, she wasn’t like me,” Burns later continued through LinkedIn direct messaging.

Therefore, for this year’s International Women’s Day, she created a Mario theme as a way to show that gaming can include women too. She used that graphic as a base for her illustrated resume.

Image Credit: Laurel Burns

“Since I had the character already and needed a new cover photo, I put them together,” she wrote.

The Reaction

Commenters on her account said the way she combined Mario World with her career accomplishments was genius. When she made a post showcasing her banner, she garnered 198 reactions, 94 comments, and three shares.

“This is gold. <3 Talk about creative,” commented Min A, a LinkedIn user and one of Burns’ connections, a data and writing specialist.

Super Mario Brothers 3 was one of my favorite video games when I was a kid! Your banner symbolizes adventure, fun, challenge, vision, and your journey altogether,” wrote Stephen E., another of her connections, a credentialing specialist in New York City.

Burns had not changed her LinkedIn account’s banner photo since 2013. “I thought the Mario game is a really cool way to do it,” Burns said during a Zoom call.

And Burns already had the graphics to put the LinkedIn banner together.

Burns is not the first to combine creativity with resume writing or creating. Others have also seen success. A Business Insider article ranked the top “Insanely Cool Resumes,” including a mention of how Sabrina Saccoccio’s resume, which she formatted similar to a Facebook template, was such a hit with one job position that the director posted the resume on his blog.

The article also mentioned Joe Kelso’s resume, which he formatted to look like a horror movie poster. Kelso had said his resume always landed him an interview.

Being Too Creative

But career experts have mixed opinions about how creative applicants should be when applying for jobs.

The concern is the applicant’s audience, said Joa Ahern-Seronde, 37, a career consultant with her own business, Carte Blanche Careers.

“You must evaluate your target audience,” said Ahern-Seronde, based out of Boston, Massachusetts. “Certain industries and roles require more creativity than others.”

Ahern-Seronde, who earned a psychology degree from Wellesley College, started her career by helping those in the competitive admission spaces, such as individuals applying to graduate schools.

Then, she moved into a space where she works with clients through different transition points. She discovered most of her clients were women who needed help reassessing their identity or careers at pivotal moments throughout their lives – from getting married to giving birth.

Ahern-Seronde said applicants need to be careful with the amount of creativity used in resumes. “You don’t want to go overboard on creativity, or you may not hit the mark with that program in particular,” she said.

The career expert said most hiring officials look at a resume for seven seconds before deciding to put the resume in the “no pile” or “maybe pile.” Creative resumes that take hiring managers more than seven seconds to understand will land in the “no pile,” Aherne-Seronde said.

The Resume as an Artist’s Canvas

Matt Vogler, 34, hails from the graphic design and animation field. Based in Orlando, Florida, Vogler works at Carley Corporation, which helps deliver a variety of media for the government. Vogler said the federal government contracts the corporation for different graphics.

He said that the amount of imagination job seekers should use depends on the employer. However, Vogler sees more creativity and originality in resumes in his field.

The animator earned a bachelor’s degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design, known as the “University for Creative Careers.”

Vogler said creative resumes could give applicants an edge in animation and other artistic fields. These resumes give individuals “a chance to make an impression initially before there is a real conversation or interview,” he said.

Vogler compared the resume to a blank canvas and the future employee being the artist. “You have the opportunity to embellish,” he said. Job hunters can make their resume more than “something that is printed off of Microsoft.”

When applying for a job, Vogler also has a creative resume he treats like his artistic canvas. It has a colorful background made up of an amalgamation of his favorite colors – blue and orange.

Different shades of blue color the resume’s background – as a way of “keeping everything consistent and harmonious,” Vogler said. Then, what looks like drops of orange paint, are splashed throughout the piece. The orange symbolizes “a bit of free form thinking – kind of how I think. Free form,” he said.

He’s worked on the piece since he was an undergraduate student. He’s refined it to the point where he’s happy with it, but he said it could always use improvements.

Finding a Compromise

Ahern-Seronde said many could find a happy medium when wanting to add some creative juices to their resumes. For example, she recommends applicants provide a link on resumes directing hiring officials to other sources, such as a LinkedIn account or portfolio.

“That way, you can have the best way of both worlds,” Ahern-Seronde said.

Burns’ illustrated banner is one way. Something like Burns’ Mario banner would be acceptable because Burns’ resume can lead people to her account.

“I enjoyed playing video games and grew up with all the old consoles, and Nintendo has always been near and dear to my heart,” wrote Jamie Edwards in a LinkedIn direct message conversation. Edwards, 39, is a fellow LinkedIn user who’s a fan of Burns’ new resume format.

“I’ve played all the old school Mario games, and I thought it was neat that there was a template that could be customized for Linkedin that resembled one of my favorite video games growing up,” he wrote. “I think if I had one of those, people would think it was neat and different versus the typical backgrounds you find on websites like Canva, etc.”

This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Courtesy of Shutterstock.

Rasha is a die-hard bookaholic, but when she's not reading, she watches TV shows with her husband. He's in charge of the remote because he certainly doesn't trust her with one. If he did, they would be watching “Law and Order” reruns all day. She is a former reporter who now works in the social work industry, connecting people with essential resources and agencies. Other than that, Rasha is currently using her superpower, writing, to deliver the news.