Creative Resumes Get Fewer Interviews — According to Research

While the media loves to feature stories about creative resumes that land dream jobs for people, a group of 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 Study

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.

The Findings

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 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.

I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Save time. Email me at for more information.

Featured by: SmartBrief on Your Career
Image: Fotolia/pokki
Updated June 2017

© 2013 – 2017, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.


Comments 5

  1. 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,


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

    Thank you Angie. Noted and changed. Donna

  3. 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,


  4. 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 well. However, one of the studies mentioned above was conducted in the EU and the other one in the US. In both cases, the non-traditional resume underperformed. Kind regards, Donna

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