Innovative Formatting Ideas to Help Make Your Resume Stand Out

John Krautzel
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With many job postings receiving hundreds or even thousands of applications, you need to find a way of making your application stand out from those of other candidates. If you're applying for a job in a creative industry, then an innovative resume format could be just what you need to make the recruiter sit up and take notice. Consider these unique formatting ideas to help you design your resume.

Before you decide to create a nontraditional resume, ask yourself whether it is appropriate for the role for which you are applying. If you're applying for a corporate job at a very conventional organization, then sticking with a traditional format could be much safer. On the other hand, if you're applying for a job as a graphic designer at an exciting young startup, then out-of-the-box resume formatting ideas are exactly what you need.

1. Add a Splash of Color

A splash of color can make your resume stand out, but it's important not to overdo it. Add a colored border or header to your resume to make it pop in a pile of black and white documents. However, be aware that some organizations copy resumes in black and white for interviewers to read, so you need to ensure your resume is still readable if this happens.

2. Include Infographics

Infographics are one of the hottest trends on the Internet right now. Some creative job seekers are even finding ways to include infographics in their resumes. Consider whether you could use an infographic to communicate your job history and achievements in a visual context. For example, you could format your work history as a timeline, creating an eye-catching centerpiece for your resume. Infographics are a great way to present quantitative information in your resume, such as sales figures that you achieved in your last role.

3. Rework the Company's Design

If you really want to catch the attention of a recruiter at a particular organization, consider including elements of that company's design in your resume. Job seeker Eric Gandhi landed a job at Google after creating a resume based on the search engine's results page. It's a bold strategy, but if you need a recruiter to take a chance on you, this kind of design mimicry could be worth a shot. It shows that you respect the design and ethos of the company and want to be a part of it.

4. Newspaper or Magazine Format

Applying for a job as the editor of a newspaper, magazine or online publication? Why not format your resume to look like the front page? This innovative resume format is an attention-grabber, but you need to be sure that it is suitable for the job for which you are applying. It's also important to ensure that this resume format contains all the essential information, including your career history, qualifications, skills and key achievements.

5. Video Resume

Some application processes allow you to submit alternative forms of resumes. A video resume could give you the opportunity to show a company what you have to offer. Video resumes typically last only around 60 seconds, so you need to get the key points across quickly. Remember that a video resume is an opportunity for the recruiter to assess your verbal communication skills, so speak clearly and use body language that shows you to be confident, open and relaxed. Spend some time practicing your video resume script, so you can deliver all the essential information without speaking too quickly.

An innovative resume format could help you find your next job. If you're applying for a job in a creative industry, such as graphic design, then using a unique format could show that you are a creative candidate who has the right skills for the job. To stand out from the crowd, consider using one of these innovative resume formatting ideas, such as an infographic resume or video resume, for your next job application.

Photo Courtesy of Formula24 at


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  • Chris Auman
    Chris Auman

    It's hard to know when to go for a really unique looking resume as opposed to a more traditional format, but I think it's worth the risk in many cases. I am sure hiring managers get bored sorting through stacks of resumes that all look the same and any chance you get to stand out may pay off in the end. These are all great suggestions. I particularly like the idea of incorporating the company's design into the resume theme.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Sylvia thanks for that. Using innovative ideas on your application is totally up to you, There are no real standards or information to support it other than what we hear from other job seekers and from hiring companies. So true - if you feel that being creative would backfire on you - standard is the way to go. But if you are seeking a position in a company that would welcome creativity, by all means go for it - always keeping it neat and professional.

  • Sylvia L.
    Sylvia L.

    I definitely see the value in being creative with how to make your application stand out. Some jobs lend themselves to this much more appropriately than others. Whether it be the industry or the hiring personnel, it's important to have some recognition of what a company may want before getting too outlandish. If the position/company want creativity, excellent. On the other hand, if they want someone who performs in unison with the crowd, this may backfire. Is there any solid information that supports the use of these tactics?

  • Jacob T.
    Jacob T.

    I can get behind using formatting and creative approaches to make a resume stand out in the pile, but I am not sure I'm on board with basing my career path on a hot internet trend. Is there data to suggest infographics has an appreciable impact? Most of these suggestions are pretty industry specific; are there more general graphics that might have a broader appeal?

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks Abbey - so very true. Professional and eye-catching at the same time. KA, not everyone should create a more creative resume and cover letter. You know your industry better than anyone else and you know what would and would not pass. These are just suggestions and we know that they are not for everyone.

  • Abbey Boyd
    Abbey Boyd

    Most hiring managers skim through resumes, looking at certain area of interest. When your words aren't enough to make your resume stand out against the rest, creating a unique format might just do the trick. However, as stated in the article, don't overdo it! Too much really can be a bad thing. If I'm skimming through resumes and see one with subtle colors and a unique yet readable format, it's going to catch my eye. I'm going to spend more time looking at this one than I am one that follows basic format. Create an innovative resume that will jump out before a single word is read!

  • K S.
    K S.

    These ideas must be geared towards representing creative people in tech fields. I could never entertain submitting a resume like any of the ones shown in this article. Unless you have a good experience and meaningful contributions to accompany these visuals, it would seem to me that these formats are distractions to convince the reader that you are innovative and free thinking in your presentation style. Sooner or later, they are going to get down to reading the text, and if that's no good, all the flash in the world is not going to help you.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the comments. @William it's a great idea to be creative on your resume and cover letter if you are applying for a creative type position such as in social media. @Katharine so very true that you want to try to modify your resume for each job application. We know that's not always possible in which case you want to find the most common keywords used for the position and use them in your resume. This will give you more of a chance of your resume getting through ATS than if you just used the same tired resumes for all positions. @Catherine video resumes aren't all that common although they are becoming more popular now than in years past. For a healthcare position, I probably wouldn't consider a video resume but a clear, concise, clean formatted resume - short and to the point. Video resumes can be good if you are good at this more public type of speaking. But, keep in mind also, that a video can work against you. If you come across like a robot, this is not for you! And you want to remember that by doing a video resume, all of the mystic is gone. They know what you look like, relatively how old you are and how you speak. Personally I will stick to the old fashioned paper resume!

  • William Browning
    William Browning

    These are all great ideas. Someone applying for a social media job could use a series of Twitter posts as a resume. You could even combine many of these elements into on solid presentation with links to a YouTube video in an infographic resume. Don't go overboard, but sometimes an artist can share two sides of the same story with two different formats.

  • Katharine M.
    Katharine M.

    These are great ideas and would definitely help with one of the most important elements of applying for a job: convincing the employer that you are interested in this particular job. You want to show that you know about the company and have a special interest in it- you don't normally have much luck if you send the same resume out to dozens of companies.


    In this job market, where there are many qualified candidates for almost every position, you really do need to use strategies like these to stand out in the herd. I work in the healthcare industry, so I think your suggestion of infographics would be best suited for this industry. I've never really heard of video resumes. It seems a bit intimidating to make one. I think it's a great idea though because it puts a face to your name and you are able to convey additional attributes for yourself, including approachability and people skills.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Tara that is so very true. Why not show your personality on your resume? You may only have one chance to show your creativity to a particular company so why not just go for it? We grew up being taught that resumes had to follow a certain format or it would get thrown out. Well, today, that format has been thrown out and the sky is the limit. Show who you really are; brand yourself and use that brand in everything that you do. Who knows? Maybe that hiring manager was just talking about how boring resumes are and then yours comes along. If you try it for awhile and don't get any responses, you can always put it back into the black and white format. Best of luck.

  • Tara Avery
    Tara Avery

    You know that saying, "Dress for the job you want"? This seems like the perfect corresponding example. Especially in creative fields, a black and white list of accomplishments, even if the accomplishments are excellent, probably won't speak as loudly as something tailored to the actual position. If nothing else, a creative resume definitely proves to the employer that you're willing to take risks, and that's a real asset.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for the great comments. @Lorri that's awesome that you would do a video. Not me! I would prefer to put it down on paper - guess it's because I am not sure how I would come across in a video. That's just fear of the unknown from my perspective. I would prefer to do a story board or an infographic. @Hema I would think that you would want to have at least some color in your infographic but not a kaleidoscope. Neat and professional with complementing colors and a nice font would work. Now, if you are a creative as @Jay, then the prospective employer would probably welcome a nice colorful graphic. No matter what you decide, always make sure that you keep it neat and clean with a nice font that's easy to read. Best of luck to all.

  • Lorri Cotton
    Lorri Cotton

    I didn't realize that there were so many new and exciting ways to format your resume. I would definitely do a video resume, because I can sell myself much more effectively than a piece of paper can. With a video resume, you get to talk to them, uninterrupted and that seems like a major win to me.

  • Hema Zahid
    Hema Zahid

    I don’t work in the creative field but I’d like to include an infographic on my resume some day. Infographics are such a great way to present different kinds of information concisely. Maybe if there wasn’t too much color then infographics could become accepted in resumes for all kinds of jobs. It would also be great to have an infographic at the end of the resume as a sort of summary.

  • Jay Bowyer
    Jay Bowyer

    I think people vastly underestimate the importance of color, infographics and other visual tools when they create their resumes. That in itself is interesting, considering the amount of money their prospective employers probably spend on graphic design. I like the idea of reworking a target company's design, actually (a la Eric Gandhi) because it really shows you're paying attention.

  • Shannon Philpott
    Shannon Philpott

    I completely agree with the idea of modeling your resume to the industry. As a former newspaper editor, I was always impressed with candidates who could 'show' me that they knew how to design and layout publications versus just 'tell' me. Adding innovative design elements is definitely appropriate for the creative industries.

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