Creative Resumes Get Fewer Interviews, According to Research

Researchers found creative resumes got fewer interviews.

by Donna Svei on June 26, 2013

While the media loves to feature stories about wildly creative resumes that land dream jobs for people, a group of university researchers in Norway have shown that creative resumes don’t work. At least not as well as more traditional resumes. You can read the story from the European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology here:

The researchers had a gender-balanced group of 45 professionals (half external recruiters and half human resources professionals) and 45 students read twelve resumes. The applicants were non-creative types for a non-creative job.

The researchers created three resumes for each applicant. The content was identical. The aesthetics differed.

Resume #1 was a formal resume on white paper.

Resume #2 was identical to Resume #1 except it was on colored paper.

Resume #3 incorporated graphic design elements similar to an infographic.

This chart shows how the readers evaluated the resumes:


Resume Type












Colored Paper





White Paper






As you can see, only 27% of the creative resumes made it into the “Interview” pile while 41% of the traditional resumes on white paper got the nod. Resumes on colored paper didn’t fare well either. Can we extrapolate the results of one study in Norway to the whole world? No, but if it were me, I would heed these results and use a traditional resume.

What if you’re a creative? I would want to see research results for creatives in order to be sure.  I suggest a traditional resume accompanied by a creative portfolio. That makes it easy for a reader to scan the resume for relevant information and evaluate an applicant’s creative abilities. You can also ask people who review creatives’ resumes, and make interviewing decisions, for their thoughts.

June 2014 Update: New research from the University of Michigan-Dearborn says that video resumes don’t help your cause either. More here.

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles and provide interview coaching services. Save time. Get hired. Email me at or call me at (208) 721-0131.

Image © mrdoggs –

Featured by: SmartBrief on Your Career.


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5 Comments on "Creative Resumes Get Fewer Interviews, According to Research"

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7 mos 22 days

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on creative resumes. Regards

Claudia Wittek
1 yr 5 mos

Hi Donna,
it would be nice to know whether there is a difference between Europe and USA.
I tried to gather some information on how and to which extend social network profiles such as Xing or Linkedin are integrated in the recruiting process. In the US there seems to be high emphasis on the appropriate profile whereas in Germany for example the profiles just are checked for any peculiarities. May be it is the same with “creative” resumes – Europe is more traditional and less inclined to new ways of job applications.

kind regards

Hi Claudia, I have wondered about cultural differences as… Read more »

2 yrs 4 mos

It’s hard to draw firm conclusions on these scores. To me it proves that authenticity in general is appreciated.

If my English is poor, than please realise that I’m not a native English speaker or writer.

From the Netherlands with love 😉

Bert Huisman

Hi Bert,

Thank you for your comment (perfectly stated in English). It is hard to draw conclusions. “Guess the Algorithm” seems to be a new sport. The best we can do, when sites such as Google and LinkedIn don’t reveal how they generate search results, is to experiment and make educated guesses.

Kind regards,


2 yrs 4 mos

Actually, “If it were me” would be correct.

Thank you Angie. Noted and changed. Donna

Mariah deForest
2 yrs 4 mos

If it were I — if I saw “if it was me” on a resume, I’d reject it immediately, no matter what the color of the paper.

Thank you for your input Mariah. This blog is a conversation. While if “If it were I” might be the Queen’s English, the Queen doesn’t talk with many people. On this blog, I will always default to language I would use in conversation, “proper” or not. “If it were I” sounds a bit stuffy to me.

Kind regards,


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