Creative Resumes Get Fewer Interviews, According to Research

Researchers found creative resumes got fewer interviews.

by Donna Svei on June 26, 2013

A group of university researchers in Norway have shown that creative resumes really don’t work. Here’s the story from the European Journal of Work & Organizational Psychology:

The researchers had a gender-balanced group of 45 professionals (half external recruiters and half HR professionals) and 45 students read 12 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.

Here’s what the readers said:


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. Now, can we extrapolate the results of one study in Norway to the whole world? Of course we can, this is the Internet! Well, no, but if it were me, I would heed these results and go with a traditional resume.

What if you’re a creative? I don’t know. I would want to see some research results for creatives. Failing that, I would ask people who review creatives’ resumes and make interviewing decisions for their thoughts on the matter.

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. Save time. Get hired. Email me at or call me at (208) 721-0131.

Image © mrdoggs –

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Mariah deForest July 2, 2013 at 12:43

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,


Angie July 2, 2013 at 14:37

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

Thank you Angie. Noted and changed. Donna

Bert Huisman July 3, 2013 at 06:27

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,


Claudia Wittek June 12, 2014 at 08:11

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

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: