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Dissecting The Good (And Bad) Resume In A Creative Field


Design by Yasmin Leão

I’ve hired (and not hired) many people over the last seven years and I can tell you right now what will help you get a job in a creative field: A COMPELLING RESUME. We have all heard that “you will never get a second chance to make a first impression, ” which rings even more true with a potential employer, when you hand over (or email) your resume (especially in the design field). Think of your resume as your “first impression rose.” Yes, there is still room to get a rose at the end of the night, but with that first impression rose in hand you are golden. It is very hard to ruin a good first impression, and likewise, it is very hard to fix a bad one. With that said, it is 2016, and it is time to amp up your resume. Gone are the days when you could apply for a creative position by simply handing over a boring piece of paper with your credentials on it, so let’s break down the pitt falls and the peaks of what makes or breaks a good resume.

First, lets start with the bad:


1. The “Zero Personality” Resume: Your resume is the first thing a potential employer is going to see, so while you don’t want to assault their eyes with visual chaos, you also don’t want to look like every other resume out there. The content and personality you can display is heavily dependent on the field you work in. If you’re applying for a position on Wall Street, then it’s probably best to leave off the hand drawn flowers and organic lines. But, since we’re talking about creative industries where you can get a little more creative with your resume, there’s nothing wrong with introducing a little color to the page. You’d be surprised at how many resumes we’ve seen, from folks applying for creative positions, showing little to no personality. It’s shocking and upsetting. If you are applying for a creative position then you are, 9 times out of 10, a creative person – SO, get creative, and don’t be basic.

You don’t have to be a graphic designer to have a beautiful resume (more on this later).



2. The “Try Hard” Resume: Now, on the opposite spectrum of the “Zero-Personality” resume we have this type – the “Try Hard” Resume. It does show creativity, I will give you that. But there is a fine line between being creative and looking like someone that, based on their resume, would take “casual Friday” way too far. Keep it professional. A few well placed graphics, the right font, and a two-tone design can go a long way in exemplifying you as the perfect candidate on your resume. Making your resume unique doesn’t have to involve 7 different colors, or overly graphic images. The above resumes probably have perfectly acceptable information, but the designs are just very distracting. I give all of these resumes an A+ for design and creativity effort, but they are slightly missing the mark and verge on juvenile.



3. The “TMI” Resume: We all have that friend that feels the need to name drop, and one-up you during every conversation. So it is with the “TMI” resume. We get it – you’re amazing, and totally qualified for the job. But, instead of showcasing everything you’ve done, a resume with too much information tends to look like verbal vomit, and causes most employers to skip through most of the info. It’s just too much to take in (unless your field requires extensive, in-depth descriptions of your skills, and previous experience). Generally a person spends 6 – 10 seconds perusing a resume (I am generous so I gave potential candidates a good 30 seconds – I JOKE), so keep it relevant, concise, and organized. Put the most important information “above the fold” (near the top of the page) and keep it simple. You can do the majority of your bragging during the interview, once you nab an appointment.


3. The “MIA” Resume: Less is more, but we still want to know something. Make sure your resume has enough information to inform a potential employer of the work experience you have. A sentence or two detailing the responsibilities you had at your previous jobs can help them quickly assess if you’ve had the experience they’re looking for. If you have jobs unrelated to the position you’re applying for don’t let them outnumber the amount of jobs you’re listing that are related. It is totally cool to include that you worked part-time for Anthropology, even if you’re applying for Graphic Design position. But, don’t list 5 retail jobs that really have nothing to do with the position, just to “fill out” your resume.



4. The “Spacial Unawareness” Resume: The layout of your resume is so important to the final look. You could have a closet full of awesome items, but if you can’t put one outfit together then you are S.O.L my friend. Same with your resume. You could be the most qualified person for the position, but if you can’t seem to organize that in a way that makes sense you will be doing yourself a disservice. That means no huge blocks of white space, type that’s too small, or confusing “artistic” arrangements. Organize your resume into clear sections or bullets with room for the eye to rest, and utilize the whole page. As a general rule, your resume should never continue onto a second page, as no one will bother to flip the page, so change up your margins or spacing as needed.


6. The “Typecast” Resume: Having the wrong font on your resume can immediately typecast you as the wrong fit for the job. In general, the body of your resume should be a sans serif font (which means it does not have the little “feet” on the top and bottom of each letter). Why? It tends to look cleaner and more modern, especially when typed in a small size. Don’t use 5 different fonts, even if you do think you know what you are doing, and have some amazing fonts in your arsenal. Keep it simple and stick to one or two fonts, using the different weights of the font to create separation between the headers and body.

And may the record forever be stated that (in my opinion) there are certain fonts that should never appear on a professional resume, including, but not limited to, Papyrus, Edwardian Script, and Comic Sans. In fact, Comic Sans should never appear anywhere. Ever.

OK – enough about what not to do, let’s move onto the good news.

Here are a few examples of resumes we think work. They’re elegant, clean, simple,  and unique to you. Some of them have a little less information, and are more graphic, while others have a more standard appearance, but still with that hint that aesthetics were considered. The best part? If you’re no graphic designer, some of these resumes are templates you can buy, and fill in with your information. So you really have no excuse.


Design By Anneleen Maelfeyt


Template by Creative Market


Design by Evelien Callens


Design by Sara Duncan


Left – Design by Justin Pocta | Right – Source


Template by Creative Market


Design by Jess Gerrow


Design by Leila Karimi

And then, you could always go off page entirely, and come up with some totally inventive and crazy ways to share your resume. We once got one of those little plastic click cameras, where you insert a disk with images that rotate like a mini projector, and it had the portfolio images of the applicant. Although the candidate wasn’t the right for the position (the guy turned out to be over-qualified), we still talk about his resume, and how it was presented (in fact we still talk to him, and will probably someday hire him once we have the budget). It was really unique, completely original and we still have it sitting on our shelves. I call that a GOOD “first impression rose.”


Design by Mikaël Thiolet


Left – Design By Cai Griffith of She Was Only for Jon Ryder  | Right – Design by Rob Jervis

Bribing an employer with chocolate has never proven to hurt your chances of getting the job. Not sure if the pills scenario is a good idea, but I can appreciate that the person has a sense of humor (or an extreme addiction).

Just for fun, here are a few resumes from our crew. We’re not claiming they’re stellar examples of everything a resume should be (and they actually have both said they would revise and redesign their resumes now – so they didn’t want to let me include them). But they both left an impression and must have done something right, because they got the interview – and the job.

Microsoft Word - BT Resume 2014_revised.doc


The long and the short of it: If you’re applying for a position as a creative show your value, skills, and personality in a way that is graceful, creative, and concise. Don’t make someone guess if you know Quickbooks, Photoshop or Excel – write that down. Don’t make them wonder if you have a sense of humor or like to have fun – show them visually, and with taste. We get hundreds of resumes or emails for each job and the ones that offer up the information in the most concise, creative ways get the interviews.

Next up? How to prep for that interview . . .

UPDATE: Many people in the comments think that some of these resumes are ridiculous and wouldn’t get them an interview in their field. If you are applying to be a doctor then No, you don’t need to have a super designed resume – this is advice for the potentials in the design industry. As a design team we have seen so many resumes come across our desks, good and bad, so we are speaking from our personal experience and letting you know how/why we bring in potential hires to interview. While these tips may not be absolutely universal I think its safe to say that having an interesting font, a slight variation in color and being concise and yet looking interesting is never bad advice for any field. Despite how serious your job is it doesn’t hurt to look like you might also be a fun person to sit next to. Am I wrong on that one?

Fin Mark


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Some of these examples are great, buuuuut….am I a jerk for wishing we could stick to interiors here?


I 100% agree


If you’re a jerk I’m a jerk too. These resumes are really pretty, but as an avid Ask A Manager reader/person who hires at a tech company, I can’t help but give most of them the side eye. There are basically no accomplishments listed on any of the “good” resumes – a resume needs to show your value and skills via showing what you’ve done. While it is stated in the first sentence that this is advice to “get a job in a creative field”, I feel like it needs to be in the post title or something and referenced more often throughout . This advice is not good advice for a lot of job seekers who aren’t looking in the creative field and I’m afraid that might get lost to someone who doesn’t read every word carefully. Sorry for the negative post. Normally I’m of the mind that if a post doesn’t float my boat, I don’t need to comment – I can just click away. But job hunting is a tricky game, and I feel like this advice could be a disservice to people applying to a lot of jobs. For job advice, people should be reading blogs… Read more »


I think that’s exactly what Emily is directly referring to – resumes for creative positions. She says right up there somewhere in the second paragraph that the way your resume can look is “heavily dependent” on the field you’re in. She’s given advice for young people in design fields before (I fall into that category, and hope I’m not the only one?), so I think this falls under that category. Super helpful for me!


No Ana, I know you’re trying to be kind, but do not take this advice. Take the advice of a career counselor at your college (if you are still attending) or a career coach. These were not good resumes, for any field.


Tough crowd. Yikes!

Kate Lim

Looks very gimmicky to me, if the boss hiring is into such things then you’re in luck if you send him a box of chocolate. In my country, NOPE, NO WAY, unless you’re implying to want to start personal relationship with the boss..


Uh, no. People who advise people about getting a job and are not actually out in the workforce themselves rarely have the right info.

I’ve gotten the worst advice ever from so called career counselors. As someone who also hires in the creative field, I like almost all of those cited as good examples.

Re: claims of not enough info — that’s not really the job of a resume. The idea, IMO, is to entice an employer to want to meet you and bring you in for an interview. You want to show you have some design skill without going into your life history. That’s what the interview is for.

The only thing I didn’t like was the idea of gifts or chocolates. To me, that’s super cheesy and would be a negative (as much as I love both gifts and chocolate!)

Remember, this is for creative fields only. If you’re in IT or accounting or whatever, your resume will probably look different.

I recommend checking out your potential employers branded materials and seeing how conservative they seem to be. If they come across as very safe and corporate, your resume should probably stick to basics.


As someone who works in a creative field (formerly at an ad agency and now at an architecture firm) I have to say even here a resume covered with flowers or other odd imagery would probably be tossed in the bin. Utilizing a personal logo, a strong layout, and a color or two is important, but start covering it in flowers or stars or dinosaurs and I am just not going to be able to take you seriously.


The resume, the attire, the conversation is directed at the “client”, a recruiter and a hiring manager. Figure out who they are and appeal to them, instead of trying to appeal to your creative self. A business that wants to hire a designer is still a business and they must know what you can do, as opposed to seeing creative resume. A resume is not the same as marketing materials. It might help to have an online portfolio. But resume itself must be well written and readable and well-oganized. Everything else is secondary. For a creative profession, perhaps a top banner or a logo will help or a sidebar. Don’t send packages, candy, CDs. Remember who your client is and who sorts the resume’s. A recruiter has to go through hundreds of resumes every day. Do you think he will have the time to open a box of candy and try to read what it says? Emily you are actually looking for quirky people to join your business. Will Anna Wintour like flowers on a resume? I think she’s business focused and no nonsense kind of person. Looking at a portfolio will help and reading a good resume, perhaps directing… Read more »


Don’t be obtuse. Design students now are encouraged if not required to produce leave-behinds like the chocolates photographed; they’re tokens to send to interviewers as thank-you gifts, and they are considered to be important in my field (visual design and creative tech). It’s fine if you don’t understand how the hiring process for creatives works, but don’t speak to it.

Kate Lim


Perfectly took words out of my mouth, Emily is the boss hiring and she wants quirky people like her who are fun to be with at work and best if becoming friends with each other. I get that that’s her style but writing a post that’s gonna be viewed by many including first time job applicants telling them it’s OK to put pictures on your resume is BAD, very bad.

This post will be better if it’s titled to “How I Want Your Resume To Look Like If You Are Applying To Join Emily Henderson Studio” or my personal preferences for resumes instead of encouraging people to get “creative”. Many people like I say are applying jobs for the first time, so please don’t give false impression that generally the bosses like gimmicky stuff. Actually I don’t even think 1% of bosses in this world will like these resumes (flowers and fonts..). Sorry if I’m being too honest.

Kate Lim

I was replying to LANE, not CH, thanks.


200% agree. your audience isn’t just the “creative types” and some of these “good” resumes are down right horrible (at least outside the “creative world”).


You are COMPLETELY correct. There is always a sense of “style” for all fields, but it is often more restrained than the “creative world”. I am an architect but studied architectural engineering and when I was a student looking for an internship I once ran out of “engineering resumes” and submitted one of my architecture resumes to a company. The company was not interested in me and took the time to let me know how hugely unprofessional my resume was.That taught me a valuable less about appropriate styling, including font.
All that said I do enjoy this post and I think this is a “style” blog and resumes (first impressions) hinge on style!


I love this post!! Its neat to see what other people look for in resumes.


this is so random. only interior design posts please!


I think those who are upset by this post need to remember that Emily is in the CREATIVE industry is a CREATIVE, so she, naturally & rightly, is writing & creating content from that point. And I think it’s safe to assume that’s why most of us are reading her blog…because we appreciate her perspective on things! So, I feel it’s a bit hypocritical to get our panties in a wad when she writes about a behind the scenes aspect of the industry she works in. She once posted advice for interns that was incredibly helpful for me jumping into the first internship a more straight-laced commercial interiors firm. The company was pretty different from a business like Emily’s, and so I had to use common sense, my knowledge of the commercial interiors industry and business I was working for to adapt (and even ignore some of) the advice for my situation. But it still helped succeed in that internship. The same goes for this post, I know what companies I desire to work for and can choose which of the suggestion, if any of them, would be most appropriate for the career I’m pursuing. Obviously, I’m not going to… Read more »


What Rachel said.

Agree Agree Agree that the content of this post is great—As someone who is building a creative business I am always interested and appreciate the opinion of other creative professionals who are on the same path. Posts about resume style and content, business challenges, developments in the field, and interior design projects are all equally interesting to me. Keep them coming!!


Here Here!!!!! I couldn’t have said it better myself! If you don’t like it, don’t do it !
As someone also in a creative interior design based role, who hires other designers, I love this post! It’s so interesting to me to see how everyone is responding to it . I also feel slightly validated in my own opinions of resumes. Ha! There are so many resources out there nowadays, to do a plain-Jane style resume just shows that you don’t use your tools. I think there is room in every industry for a little bit more style ! (Said the designer) ?

Kate Lim

Agree that we should stick to interior designs here, Emily is branching out so much in 2016, just the first month it’s getting scary, like she’s attempting to talk about EVERYTHING under the sun, not that she shouldn’t (we enjoy hearing her talk) but I think generally it HAS TO BE related to interior designs and her interior styling secrets.

I am also not a fan of those fashion and beauty products some of which are not available from my country, WTH.

As a person who applied and called up for many interviews and nailing interviews on first meeting, I say a lot of the so call “good resumes” she stated are more like HER personal preference, like how you want to style YOUR resume to impress HER. It doesn’t work in real life. LOL. Sorry..



when was the last time we actually have seen a design project on the blog? I click less and less…

I think these are beautiful and aesthetically appealing, but they are very graphic design/tech/new media oriented. I’m in the humanities and I have worked with a headhunter to streamline my resume/CV but I have found in my field, employers require a more descriptive “TMI” resume. I think in certain fields there is emphasis on knowledge of different creative suites or applications and those are easier to list concisely. If I simply listed bullets with “grants, collections care, teaching, etc” I’d fall into the “MIA” category. Furthermore, many universities use resume submission software that requires a “cut/paste,” plain text, no frills, content-focused application. So even when I have attempted a more graphically interesting layout, I don’t always get to showcase it. That said, this IS a design website…so maybe I wasn’t your target audience (vocationally speaking).

Meg T

I agree with this! I am a programmer involved in both the submitting and reading of resumes. A good descriptive/TMI is usually better for a programmers resume if it is organized well. You want to present the fact that you know what you are doing and that you meet all the requirements for the job which are usually a lot! What makes a “good” resume is very much geared towards the field/position you are applying for.


Loved seeing all these and getting an understanding of what a good resume in this field looks like in mixing the pretty with required information.
For me, creativity sparks creativity no matter what form it takes.
Thanks Emily!


Under ‘education’ I certainly wouldn’t put ‘high school diploma’.
That made me laugh.


PLEASE no interview post!!


Actually, I’m job hunting right now, so interview advice from someone who is DOING the hiring will be awesome!


Seriously, Ask A Manager. Blog and community full of people who are doing hiring, and do a lot of hiring for their jobs. Love Emily, but read her advice, take it as one interviewer’s specific opinion, and then please get your interview advice from them.


As a clinical chemist, I wish I could make a prettier resume and still be taken seriously 🙂

My current resume format most closely resembles Brady’s. In fact, my format was created in my interior design professional practices college course where we were graded on how we presented our content in the most “design firm/ business professional” manner. Some of my classmates tried more quirky formats like the “good examples” above, but were met with resistance from our professor. She beleived that it was better to have “a well-composed and formatted resume, than a graphically beautiful one”. I guess it’s beecause you never know who’s hands it will fall into (i.e. a straight-laced suit and tie professional, or a hip and cool blue jeans and fringe booties individual). 🙂 I suppose I agree, but it’s very limiting. Also, when posting on job websites, I found it really hard to keep my formatted resume in tact. Most sites will simply extract your information from a Word file or PDF, so all that hard work normally gets lost. Thanks so much though for bringing some awareness. I could definitely stand to update mine more often and perhaps inject a little humor. 🙂

Smh [believe] [because]


“Excellent communications and customer service” (?)
“You never know who’s hands it will fall into.”
“It’s hard to keep my formatted resume in tact.”

Some people have an instinctive knowledge of correct usage in regard to spelling, grammar, etc. Find one and have them edit your work. It will make you look as smart as you probably are!


Love this post, can’t wait for the next one on interviews.


I’m not in a creative profession so I can’t do this but they’re fun to see.

There are some fun resumes and resume templates at, if you can use an electronic slide show type display as a resume.


So helpful for creatives! I also hire creative positions, and just a few tiny design details (and a well designed website!) show me their design skills the minute I start reading.


LOVE THIS. I find this post extremely helpful in knowing what you (a professional in the design/creative industry) feel is a good resume. I agree that it is a fine line between being too creative and still looking professional on paper but these guidelines are very helpful for someone looking to rework their resume. Thanks!


Agreed! So great to have some professional creative input from someone that is in the design world. Although, I do think that all of these tips are pretty universal and can be used for any field, taking into account what she mentioned about content being dictated by what field you are applying for.


I am loving all this insight and advice into the creative world, and all the great new posts this year. Keep it up


Yay for candid and professional help with one of the hardest things to put together as a young professional. I’ll be using these tips very soon.


I love these advice posts. Looking forward to the interview!


I loved this post! As a Design Director, I also have looked at MANY poorly designed resumes over the years. For someone starting out in a creative field who looks to your blog for inspiration and guidance I think this post was super relevant and in some cases may be eye opening. Thank you for providing well rounded design content.

Some of these comments are pretty harsh! I thought it was an interesting post. I work in a field that straddles business/creative (marketing/communications for a healthcare nonprofit) and it’s often hard for me to strike the right tone with my resume. I think some of the more subdued creative resumes are great examples that I can keep in mind next time I refresh mine. Although I will say, I have to include a lot more info in mine than those examples. I guess I’m a TMI person, but I won’t get an interview at all if I don’t list off some of my responsibilities and accomplishments.


I have to say I fall into the “let’s not talk about this here” team. While I understand the need to have a visually attractive resume, I work in HR software as my career and know that “designed” resumes actually can get you automatically weeded out of a job. Love the idea of “pretty” resumes, the but the reality is, software, competitive job seeker markets and time are some of the biggest items on the other side of the table for recruiters. Designed resumes can work against those items and drive recruiters nuts. KISS- applies to resumes from the recruiters standpoint.


I thought this post was super helpful even to NON creative field types. I see so many craptastic resumes. Usually tmi and pages long. I also see tons of poor formats. You don’t have to be in the creative field to have it look nice. Maybe not flowers but gosh, I’d be thrilled with resumes that looked like these. And my husband is in the creative field and looking at what others are doing is inspiring and helpful.
On to the interview post! I’m on board!

I know some aren’t loving this post, but I’ve been considering looking for an interior designer to work under and it’s great to hear some advice from a designer out in the field on what catches her eye on a resume. Thanks for the advice and loving all the posts lately. Some really great and strong content.

This is something I’ve never considered before! I was always told in college to keep resumes look good obviously, but clean and simple, but it is interesting how for creative jobs you can break these rules.


Memorie H.

Really enjoyed this post. Seeing things from a business creative insider perspective is so interesting. Looks like a lot of time and thought went into it – great job.


I like this post. As someone who started in Graphic Design (I have since switched to Marketing), I agree that your resume is the first piece that will be seen by a potential employer.

That being said, I would steer more towards a bit more of a conventional resume if you are applying for a GD job for a larger or more corporate company. I actually think Brady’s does a terrific job of walking that line. That may just be my experience (coupled with a particularly bad interview with Altria who kind of ripped it apart)

Megan C.

Well, I’m a stay-at-home mom with no immediate plans to apply for a job and I still read this entire post AND found it to be informative and entertaining content. Also, I don’t think it’s even possible to write a substantial design post every. single. day.


Second this!! Not a design bone in my body and I live for Emily’s blog.


I am soooo tired of the negative comments. I am 76 today, a retired design professional and love Emily’s blog and have followed daily since Design Star. Guess what Gang, she is a whole person, not just an designer/stylist and this is her Blog!
Read or don’t read, like it or not, move on or not, but slamming, forget about it! Who cares? and nobody needs it. In my book Emily has a very unique special voice and adds value to my days whatever she talks about.

Cris S.

Yes! I so appreciate that almost every day there is new content here. It gives me a reliable place to go when I need a 5 minute break between projects at work and I really appreciate that.

I think this topic definitely falls within the purview of the blog, but even if it didn’t, why would I complain? I can’t emphasize this point to fellow readers enough – Until I (or you) start paying for content I don’t think I (or you) have the right to dictate what the content should be.

And the subject of creative field resumes today? Perfect! I work for the career services office of a top tier MBA school. ALL of these examples are formatted in a way we would never allow. It was great to see things from the ‘other side’ before getting back to work on employment statistics.


Hear, hear! (And happy birthday!) Love this comment and agree whole-heartedly.

This blog content is 100% free to the reader, so if a particular post isn’t your cup of tea, why not just close out of the browser and try again tomorrow?

Emily, I applaud your team for keeping the blog so fresh and interesting week after week. It’s not easy.


Amen. I am 48 and remember a world before blogs existed. I still get excited every single day to visit my favorite blogs and sort of can’t believe that we get all this amazing content from such smart creative people for FREE!!!


Yes to this. Thank you for writing it and THANK YOU Emily for your blog.

Yay – Vicki! I agree with everything you said!! Yes, this is Emily’s Blog! The resume advice for creatives is a very interesting topic, but at the end of the day, people need to figure out what works for them! Comments lacking tact are so very unnecessary!


Thank you for this. I get so depressed about the meanness.


I agree with you, Vicki. It’s a great, big world and there’s lots to get upset about…blog content is not on my list. I fully expect that any blog will change and evolve as the creator does. Life would be dull if we all stayed the same!

And Emily, I appreciate your willingness to read, respond and stay involved with your readers. You keep doing you, girl.

Agree Agree Agree that the content of this post is great—As someone who is building a creative business I am always interested and appreciate the opinion of other creative professionals who are on the same path. Posts about resume style and content, business challenges, developments in the field, and interior design projects are all equally interesting to me. Keep them coming!!


I want to jump into the fray! I agree this is a little random but I actually got into it. As a creative at an ad agency, this definitely applies to my field.


I found this poster super insightful as I am trying to change the path of my creative career. It was really interesting to see what kind of graphic design you are intrigued by as an interior designer. Your point of view is unique and is totally relevant. I am a graphic designer and have a slightly minimal design aesthetic so this post has reminded me to consider my audience/future employers. Thank you! And just remember … Haters gonna hate!


As someone in a straight-laced field, I found this interesting and helpful. I look to creative resumes when updating mine. It is easy to dial back the personality into something more traditional, but I find it difficult to introduce new elements without some inspiration.

Introducing a small amount of color and some different formatting helped give my resume personality, which helped to balance out the overall “TMI” effect from needing to list tons of specific experience (as is expected for my field).

I’m adding these to my inspiration folder for next time I feel like switching things up.


It’s likely that I’ll never use this information myself, but I consider myself a creative/somewhat design-savvy human, and I thought this was really interesting. I read all the way through for what amounts to entertainment purposes (which is basically why I read any blog) and this both piqued my interest and held my attention. So! Thumbs-up from here. 🙂

Ha! The “not my cup of tea” section in Pieter’s CV is something I would surely omit. Doesn’t seem like a team player when you say you don’t want to do project management or administrative tasks. Everyone has to do some of that, at some time, no? I wouldn’t take up space on my resume telling people what I don’t prefer to do.


Seriously. I am a manager and would immediately throw this resume into the trash. The last person I want on my team is someone who immediately tells me what they DON’T want to do.

Kate Lim

Same thought here. It’s a big no-no.


I had the exact same thought. Especially in any kind of small firm or organization, that sort of work has to be done, and usually everyone has to do it at some point.

(also, inherent sexism re: traditionally female sorts of tasks…? hmm…)


That, and the ‘Ellen’s man, Charlie’s father’ bit. SO not an appropriate thing to include when applying for a job in the US.

I’m aware, however, that more personal info is included in CVs overseas. I worked admin briefly in the UK and had to reply to all the people who didn’t get my job. There were a lot of photos, and one woman even included her measurements.


I’m not mad at this post at all, in fact I ate it up and I even checked out the resume sites listed. I’m in Education so I can’t use all of them but I most certainly plan on changing my resume. (I like Brady’s and will probably copy) 🙂 I would like to start an online education blog soon and this advice definitely helped there. Also, Emily this topic isn’t a nuisance to me, I love variety in a blog.


Loved this post – so interesting to see how the other half lives! In the legal profession we like resumes that look like the ‘zero-personality’ one. Something like Brady’s or Sara’s would also be good if it were single-color. To me, the cover letter and interview are the times to show your personality. All I want the resume to show your qualifications and have ZERO misspellings or other typos.

This post was eye-opening! I love being educated by you, Emily, on ALL SORTS OF TOPICS. Keep on keepin’ on!


My husband (a creative director) was once sent a resume which had an image of the applicant’s face made up of pixels which were photos of her vagina. How’s that for TMI?


THIS MADE MY DAY. Haha, thanks for a good laugh!

Hahah! I can’t even imagine his face after realizing what it actually was.


Several of the “good” resumes are individuals are Belgium. Maybe the Netherlands is more accepting of “pretty” or “amusing” in resumes than, say, the United States.


I am a Director in the banking industry (risk management of all things…snore) and see TONS of resumes. The way information is displayed is so important. You’re suggestions are on point – readers can cherry pick what works for them based on their respective field. In fact, I want to update my resume right now with sans serif!! Thanks for the post; I appreciate the variety of content (including mommy posts:) xx


Wow, so I definitely need to change my resume now because one of those was LITERALLY my resume design, down to the spacing. They changed the info to theirs, but they’re from the same town so I guess they got my resume somehow?

Wow!! I believe it. Be sure to contact them and let them know you’re aware.

I loved your insight and it is so nice to hear advice from someone who actually HIRES people. I love this post just as much as your interior design posts and think that you should post more things like this. There are so many people interested in interiors, but don’t know how to do the technical sides of things (like resumes, interviews, etc). Maybe if we accepted these posts more with open arms we could actually learn something!
I sent this to so many of my newly graduated friends and we all found it full of great information.


I have loved having a new post to read pretty much everyday. Whether people love this one in particular or not, I have enjoyed checking it out everyday!

Thanks, Emily! I shared this post with my sophomore and junior interior design students.

I work in the arts, for a major art museum and art school, and the style-over-substance model of “good-looking” resumes (as identified above) would not land anyone an interview here. Addressing your skill set and qualifications in the resume is *so* important and gives a potential employer a sense of writing style and ability, which is ubiquitous now with our use of email.

Karen T.

I’m a corporate recruiter for an international finance company and I look at hundreds of resumes/day. I’d say Yasmin’s advice is spot on. It’s obviously important to target your resume so it’s position specific and she says that–but what I wouldn’t give to see a pretty resume like that just once! It would break up the monotony for sure. 🙂


I personally love that you’re providing such well-rounded content, and I was so excited when you announced you were going to expand to other topics as well! I work in PR (so not exactly as creative as design) and have seen some resumes over the years that could really benefit from a lot of the advice you gave – there were some really great takeaways in each point you made in this post, no matter what industry you work in…


I rarely comment but this subject is close to my heart. As an Architect (who straddles the creative and the technical) I used to work hard on making my resume reflect the same balance. I’d never put flowers on mine, but as someone who hires people now, I will always appreciate a well-laid out page, graphic “pop” of color or a thoughtful font choice.
I’d add one more piece of advice for the “creatives”, add a portfolio – even if it is a just few images and use that to drive the tone of your resume, that helps give a more holistic view of your aesthetic.


I appreciated the post Emily!

This is interesting to me because I’ve worked in a more serious, traditional field, and I’m currently working in a “creative field” in a pretty traditional city (DC). Your feedback on what not to do is great and the resumes in the “what to do” section are beautiful. But I have to agree with other people that especially the first few you showed are totally lacking in substance. I get that some of these are for graphic designers and the links to their work are where you see their experience, but that doesn’t work for everyone in the “creative field” (whatever that really means). To me, the “Madison George” and Justin/Jason ones are the best combos of format and substance (and most similar to the ones of the people you hired). Someone applying to a job in a creative field should absolutely have a well formatted resume that demonstrates their ability to think spatially and call attention to the right things. But what’s up with the lack of descriptions under work experience? Or the totally fluffy, “assisted with various projects and office needs”? Or the “quirky” ones? Tell me what you were responsible for so I know that you can… Read more »


Damn-some of these negative comments are ridiculous. I can’t believe people are so fired up over a post about resumes. I thought the post was interesting. People can be so nasty from behind a computer.


I started in a more creative field (architecture) 12 years ago, right before everything went completely digital. I heavily emphasized graphic gymnastics on my resume, as well as having that resume integrate into some sort of mini-portfolio/cd/booklet. Over the years, as I gained more experience and migrated to the related field of urban planning, my resume has gotten much more conservative. I do think layout and clear information is always important, but content and experience trumps graphic layout any day. Furthermore, for most prospective jobs in my field, an online application needs to be filled out that restates anything on the resume, and the resume is just an attachment that may or may not even be looked at by HR. I’ve learned that it is all about following the instructions of the application and making sure you know your audience.

Jess C

FINALLY! I’ve been in charge of sifting through the resumes at my architecture firm for over 4 years now, and it is some of the resumes that have passed by my desk. People (I would even be so bold as to say not just creatives…gasp!) should try to communicate at least a little bit of their personality with their resume, not just their history. We’re a small, young firm that wants to bring in people that can both contribute to our quality of work but also to the personality of the office. We write our job ads specifically catered to those with a sense of humor, but we inevitably receive tons of standard form bullet point resumes. I would add that the cover letter makes all the difference in the world. Maybe the list of accomplishments doesn’t truly allow us to get a good sense of the person, but when they infuse their cover letter with the humor and the passion that we’re looking for, they almost always go right into the interview pile, regardless of their resume. I’d also make the argument that the cover letter is easy to customize to each position one is applying to rather… Read more »


haha, I can’t believe how controversial this post is! as a PhD student in biomedical engineering (and we have the most boring resumes/cvs), I actually really enjoyed reading this. I think it’s all about who you’re catering too and it’s clear that’s important to understand. thanks emily


Thank you so much for visiting this topic Emily! As someone who aspires to be a wardrobe stylist, I have to learn to infuse my creativity and more importantly my sense of style in everything I do. People in creative fields have to show that they’re creative. Period. Resumes, business cards, and your personal appearance are all branches of you, therefore should show some element of your aesthetic.

Emily – hello from the UK! I am an avid reader and quite frankly was horrified reading through these comments. Gosh – how British did that sound?! I LOVE that you are posting about another aspect, that for me is what makes yours the ultimate lifestyle blog. Family, interiors and general life. Keep up the great work and I will keep searching for a larger rug. That post has stuck with me and every time I walk into our sitting room I cringe! All front feet on the rug but it’s too small! xx

Has anyone else noticed the trend where everyone expects every blog post or article to pertain to their specific needs, or they think it’s terrible? Not everything is about you!

Anyway…I currently work for a very stodgy and traditional energy company doing sad boring technical work all day, but I majored in creative writing and studio art and am hoping to move back in that direction. This post was actually very helpful for me! After ten years in a strict corporate environment it’s nice to get the go ahead to loosen up a little to go after the kind of career I want…a career that actually wants me to have a personality! This post pertains to me, so I approve! Ha!

Also, all this talk of creative resumes has me thinking of Elle Woods’s resume in Legally Blond: “It’s pink.” “Uh huh, and it’s scented. It adds a little something don’t you think?” Haha.


It IS about us, though. Emily’s not maintaining this blog as a way to share fun stories with her friends or as a means of self-expression. She’s doing it to advance herself professionally, and also uses it as a source of income (advertising Target products, asking readers to buy her book, sponsored content).

Caveat: I don’t know Emily; this is just my impression of what her purpose for the blog is.

She also periodically asks readers what they want to see, and they’re telling her. Not every comment on the blog has to be fawning. The “negative” people are being perfectly civilized. And I’m saying this as someone who enjoyed today’s post.

Kate Lim

What Holey said, if only everyone thinks like you.

This blog does get Emily money, she being sponsored into representing certain brands and products. I don’t know, maybe she is trying hard to increase her amount of viewers by offering a variety of different things. Like this post.

Some people might stumbled onto this post when googling how to impress with resumes and such and it’s bad to tell people it’s OK to get creative..this is the internet, many of us are not from U.S. too, so she can’t possibly speak for everyone why is she stating “bad templates” and openly bashing other people’s resumes (when it works for the field that they’re applying for). Note, title is dissecting good and BAD resume, Such negativity.

I think if you’re not an expert on the topic, don’t set yourself to look like one?? I think that’s the least a blogger with millions of readers can do. No offence.

It is about the collective “us”, but it’s not about each and every one of us as individuals. Her blog as a whole serves a community of people who are interested in Emily’s style and advice. I don’t agree with every opinion that she has because I’m not Emily, and that’s ok. My personal style is actually very different from Emily’s, but I still enjoy her work and insight. I don’t expect every single thing she posts to speak to me on a personal level, and when it doesn’t I appreciate that it speaks to someone else and move on. This post is helpful for people with creative careers (especially people who might want to work for Emily someday!). If you don’t work in a creative field, appreciate the post for what it is, and move on. Constructive criticism is great, and helpful, but whining that every post doesn’t apply to your specific life is ridiculous.

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