Posted by: B. Scott Anderson | November 25, 2013

Playing it safe or being creative in cover letters and resumes

One area O’Hair, D., Friedrich, G. W., & Dixon, L. D. (2011) wrote about was that of the preparation of a resume and cover letter for job seekers.

In Ch. 8, O’Hair, D., Friedrich, G. W., & Dixon, L. D. referenced identifying a job objective, educational specifics, work experience and school projects or volunteer achievements if they include leadership positions (p. 236). The authors also gave two examples of a conventional resume and one example of a conventional cover letter.

It seems that in this increasingly shrinking job market, is it more advisable to stick with conventional resumes and cover letters when looking for a position and suffer the possibility of getting overlooked due to the pedestrian nature of the resumes and cover letters or should job seekers take a more creative approach and risk the resume and cover letter being shunned because of its non-standard nature?  If a more creative approach is taken, what does that say about the job candidate? Does that mean they are more creative, and therefore, might make for an effective leader or does it mean that they might not be able to focus on the smaller details of the job?


  1. And how many of the really creative resumes were written and formatted by a professional resume writer? I wonder this sometimes when competing for jobs right now.

  2. Let your actions speak for themselves. I think it’s a mistake to try to ‘prove’ your creativity by the design or presentation of your CV or résumé or cover letter. Can you make them look nice? Sure, but it’s also easy to be drawn off to excess when you feel like you’ve got something prove. Let’s recall the difference of form and function- what function does a résumé serve? How do hiring committees use them, and what other means are available to present your creative potential? A florid résumé seems susceptible to the impression that a particular candidate has too much free time, or is perhaps *too* concerned with details. In this case, design is peripheral to function as a document of one’s actions and achievements- If you want to stand out, make it happen in the content of the document. If someone wants to know more or get to know your dynamic potential, they’ll call, and you can demonstrate that in person.

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