Omnivore Academy consulted eight well-known and highly accomplished Executive/National Creative Directors, CEOs and HR Talent Heads to give their take on how your CV/Resume/Profile/Bio-data/whatchamacallit ought to be like, so that it stands out and gives you an edge to get called for a personal interview. Please note that these are their personal views and are not endorsed by their respective agencies. Thus, where requested, we have kept their agency name out of this article.
To start with, everyone on the Panel agreed that for a creative job, a ‘templatized’, formal resume (you know the standard latest-jobs-first, latest-educational-qualifications first, format) just won’t work – definitely not for a ‘creative post‘!
Of course, basic information such as full name, address, email, ‘post applied for’, etc. were of utmost importance in the CV.
But being ‘creative’ in your approach was seen as an important differentiating factor!
Caution! Being ‘relevant’ is as crucial in your CV as it is in your advertising work. Everyone on the Panel felt that ‘bizzare’, ‘weird’, ‘different-for-the-sake-of-being-different’, and emotional-blackmail-CVs (such as ‘Please Sir, I wrote this CV with my own blood’), do not stand a chance.
But being interesting, showcasing your talent, being professional about your role and responsibilities, showing who you truly are as a person, and bringing all these characteristics out in your ‘creative’ resume would certainly strike a chord, and give you a lead in the race.
The Panel’s POV:
1. Mayank Yadav
Sr. Creative Director, Mullen Lowe Lintas
“Showcasing one’s creativity on one’s resume is a good idea for entry level positions, but for higher posts it may seem tacky. For young professionals however, having a creative resume is advantageous. It creates a positive impression even before the prospective employer has gone through the portfolio. This may be a differentiating factor amidst multiple portfolios with similar content.
It must be kept in mind, however, a creative resume will not compensate for a poor portfolio. Just as you wouldn’t buy a book which has an interesting cover but dull content…
So it’s important to distribute one’s creative energy wisely. A good portfolio is a must for anyone who wants to flourish in the creative world.
A creative resume is just the icing on the cake. Get your cake right first.”
2. Savita Mathai
Chief Talent Officer, FCBIndia
“I prefer a CV that informs me at a glance about the person who is applying. A “creative” CV is interesting but a lot of creative people in their enthusiasm to impress often go so overboard with the format that the content goes missing and you are left wondering what the applicant really means. The CV, in such cases, instead of informing just irritates. Surprising, shocking, amusing is great as long as it is not at the cost of the details about the person that I need to know to even call him for an interview. For creative people it is finally the work that speaks, the CV needs to tell me enough about the person to determine whether s/he fits my requirement.
So yes, a “creative” CV is welcome as it shows another dimension of the applicant’s personality, as long as the applicant has the maturity to balance it with content.”
3. P G Aditya
Sr. Creative Director, Dentsu Webchutney
While ‘off-beat’ resumes do help gain attention, I personally prefer off-beat portfolios 🙂 Some do’s, don’ts, and ‘wish-they-hadn’ts’ from my end w.r.t resumes:
No 34-word manicured “career objective” statements to start off with. Especially if the candidate is applying for copy 🙂
More focus on the kind of creative team the candidate wishes to belong in, as it helps a CD evaluate a ‘team fit’
More experimentation with the “form” of the resume. I’ve noticed myself to be more warm to resumes where obvious ‘effort’ has been put in: video resumes intercut with portfolio material is a personal favorite.
While one’s portfolio of work remains (rightly so) the deal-breaker, I generously value personality, internet-Q, social skills & creative-stamina (which I believe can be the starting points to a conversation as against a manicured resume, too).
To walk this talk, we’ve added an all-new dimension to the hiring process at my agency (Dentsu Webchutney). Allowing interesting candidates to skip the resume, and share something that reflects their personality more authentically: selected links from their browser history. Through this project (titled #PauseTheResume), we’ve already hired three candidates across the copy, film and media departments.
4. Malcolm Raphael
VP and Head, Trade Marketing & Innovations, Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd.
“Yes I think a CV needs to stand out today in its presentation and representation of a person’s career path and capabilities. However, it’s very important to ensure that the ‘difference’ is not forced. Many candidates try to be different and in the process botch it up.
For a creative person, bringing out his or her creative personality can add a lot. Personalisation through a unique story telling method that brings out the person’s writing skills….for e.g., someone might be instrinsically humourous. It’s not important that a CV is serious. When someone is looking to hire a creative person, they are looking for someone who can think differently. For an art person, obviously the layout of the CV is critical.”
5. Adrian Mendonza
Creative Director and Film Maker
“An off-beat CV has definitely attracted me to a creative person, more so to writers. Anyway, I believe it is writers who usually try and put together ‘creative’ CVs. Have rarely come across art directors who have done so. I still remember Zenobia’s (from O & M) CV, when she was first looking for a job more than 20 years ago.
She sent me a CV which was basically a dress on a hanger and her pitch was something like she can stitch together a beautiful ad from the brief given by the client. I hired her on the spot and I would like to believe that the ‘rest is history’.
However, off-beat is not about being weird. And more off-putting than weird, are CVs which smack of being smug and over-smart. Those are definite no-nos.
I think a dash of humour, especially self-deprecating humour while explaining why one is so passionate about wanting to get into advertising, helps in taking the CV a long way.
What helps also is if the CV does not seem like it is a copy of one that has been dashed off to as many agencies as possible, in one go.
To accord the recipient of the CV with the impression that this piece of communication was specially crafted just for him or her, will certainly elevate the prospective job seeker by a few rungs. And it’s not difficult to do this – simply do a bit of a background check on the agency and its highlights.”
6. Turab Lakdawala
Managing Director, Tempest Advertising Pvt Ltd.
“These are the things that I look for in a Creative person’s CV:
1. Neat layout. No garish colours. Formal/Informal doesn’t matter.
2. Fonts selected: Should be sophisticated and not the normal Arial or Helvetica.
3. No spelling or grammatical errors (if it is a copywriter’s CV, the first error I see, I stop reading further and reject the CV).
4. Experience should be in varied sectors.
5. A small write-up about the person, showing me that they have a life beyond work.
6. Links to their portfolio and to their digital profiles on Facebook, Linkedin, Blogs, etc.
And, most importantly, their current location and whether open to moving to another city. (I find it very irritating that today, people just give their email id and mobile number).“
7. Jigar Fernandes
“For me there’s no right or wrong. It could be a simple CV and folio, but it has to have great work then. If you’re a fresher and there’s not enough work, you could have a great idea in the way you present your work. For example, there was this guy who won many awards for his idea that helped him catch the attention of the world’s top advertising guys. He just bought their names on adwords for a few dollars. Whenever these biggies would search their name (it’s called ego search!) this guy’s website with his folio would appear as the first link.
But remember that most top guys in advertising (like in other professions, of course) are busy. Don’t waste their time in trying to be too elaborate. If you’re doing something cool, let it be short and simple. Quality over quantity. Idea over effort.”
8. Nikhil Fernandes
Creative Director (Digital)
“While one should not judge a person or their work on a CV alone, if you’re applying to a large organisation, a good CV is a must. Cover letters are passé, I don’t know if people read them anymore but anything that has ever come to me in any of my jobs, I’ve always read because it is my duty to judiciously look at a CV or work of a person…
… I would say, people should put their work on Behance, Linkedin and Instagram. For developers and designers there are other places like Dribble and GitHub as well. If you love writing, your work should be on Medium and other platforms like Medium.
Also, nobody is going to look at your website if there is no traction on it so it makes absolute sense to put your creative work or anything that you loved making on platforms like Instagram.
To optimize your blog, portfolio and destination online where your work is, you should also look at keywords, tags and all possible metadata options.
However, the true test of someone who is creative is not only a creative CV but also their ability to deliver creative work. When I get any CV, the first thing I look for is, ‘Can this person think and is this person a good human being?’ Because, just being talented doesn’t give you the permission to do whatever. You have to help the person on the left and the person on the right to make a good creative team work.”
And now that you’ve got rather clear directions from the people who really know, also take a look at some of the highly creative, off-beat-but-interesting resumes that apparently gave the creators of these CVs good results:
Don’t forget there are many more CVs out there to inspire you, threaten you, challenge you to do better than your previous attempt!