tearing apart a traditional resume

Breaking the Rules: How to Create a Non-Traditional Resume that Will Stand Out!


In the world of job seeking, the traditional resume is the norm. It has been for a very long time. For that reason, sometimes the format can come across as bland and boring. That’s okay. In most cases, it should be. For most jobs, resumes are supposed to look the same. Employers and recruiters aren’t looking for fancy or fabulous. They’re looking for qualified candidates who sound like they are well-spoken on paper.

But for some jobs — like those in marketing and sales and technology and more creative vocations — being a little different can be a good idea. In such cases, job seekers looking to make a lasting impression on potential employers can break free from the traditional format and create a non-traditional resume that showcases their skills and experience in a more unique and memorable way. 


Unlike traditional resumes that follow a standard format, non-traditional resumes can take many different forms, such as infographics, videos, or even social media profiles. However, writing a non-traditional resume requires careful planning and consideration. 

In this article, we will explore the benefits of non-traditional resumes, identify different types of non-traditional resumes, and provide tips on how to create an effective and unique resume that will help you stand out from the competition.

Why Write a Non-Traditional Resume?

When it comes to job applications, the traditional resume format has been the go-to for many years. However, as job markets become more competitive and employers seek out unique candidates with diverse experiences, non-traditional resumes are becoming more popular.

Like we just mentioned, non-traditional resumes can take many forms, such as video resumes, infographics or even social media profiles. These alternative formats can help job seekers stand out from the crowd and showcase their skills and experiences in a more creative way.

Additionally, non-traditional resumes can be particularly effective for those in creative fields, such as graphic design or marketing. By using a non-traditional format that aligns with the industry, job seekers can demonstrate their skills and creativity in a way that a traditional resume may not allow.

However, it’s important for job seekers to also keep in mind that non-traditional resumes may not be appropriate for all industries or job positions. It’s important to research the company and position before submitting a non-traditional resume to ensure it aligns with the employer’s expectations.

Advantages of a Non-Traditional Resume

A non-traditional resume can provide several advantages for job seekers, including the ability to stand out, show creativity and personality, and demonstrate unique strengths and abilities, all while making a mark.

    1. Differentiation: A non-traditional resume helps you differentiate yourself from other candidates who submit traditional resumes. This can help you catch the attention of employers who are looking for someone with a unique skill set or approach.

    2. Creativity: Non-traditional resumes allow you to showcase your creativity and personality. By using different formats, colors, and designs, you can make your resume more visually appealing and engaging. You may also be showing your potential employer that you are a creative thinker and willing to take risks. This is especially important for jobs in creative fields such as marketing, design, or advertising.

    3. Highlighting Skills: Non-traditional resumes allow you to highlight specific skills or achievements that might be overlooked in a traditional resume. For example, you can create an infographic to show your proficiency in a particular software or program.

    4. Memorable: A non-traditional resume is more likely to be remembered by employers than a traditional resume. This can give you an advantage when it comes to getting an interview or a job offer.

    5. Flexibility: Non-traditional resumes give you the flexibility to present your information in a way that makes sense for you. You can emphasize different aspects of your experience, skills, or personality depending on the job you are applying for.

Types of Non-Traditional Resumes

When it comes to non-traditional resumes, there are several options to choose from. Here are some of the most popular types:

    • Infographic Resumes: These resumes use graphics and visuals to showcase your skills and experience. They are perfect for creative fields such as graphic design, marketing, and advertising.

    • Video Resumes: These resumes allow you to showcase your personality and communication skills in a video format. They are ideal for industries such as media, entertainment, and public relations.

    • Portfolio Resumes: These resumes showcase your work samples and projects. They are perfect for creative fields such as writing, photography, and art.

    • Social Media Resumes: These resumes leverage social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to showcase your skills and experience. They are ideal for industries such as marketing, advertising and public relations.                                                                            

It is important to note that non-traditional resumes may not be suitable for all industries or job positions. It is important to research the company and job requirements before deciding on a non-traditional resume format.


Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that non-traditional resumes should still be professional and easy to read. Avoid using too many graphics or visual elements that may distract from the content of the resume.

How to Structure a Non-Traditional Resume

When it comes to creating a non-traditional resume, there are a few key elements to consider. While the structure may vary depending on the specific job you are applying for, there are some general guidelines you can follow to ensure your non-traditional resume is effective.

Here are some tips on how to break free from the usual, traditional resume formats and create a document that stands out from the rest of them. 

1. Start with a clear and attention-grabbing headline and summary: 

While headlines and summaries are part of traditional resumes, they are usually run-of-the-mill. Obvious, simple and to the point. Like “Financial Management Professional” or “Construction Labourer with 5+ years of Experience.” Again, it’s what employers expect. But there are no rules that say your resume can’t begin with a unique and original headline that really captures the attention of the recruiter or hiring manager. 

The  headline should obviously be concise and specific to the job, followed by an equally compelling summary. However, the headline comes first. It’s easier to grab attention through the headline than the summary. As any good copywriter or marketer will tell you, the headline is the biggest factor that determines whether your prospect continues reading. While this applies more to marketing than resume writing, your resume is a sales document. You are trying to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job. 

For example, an IT professional with extensive experience in coding could try the following: 

Headline: “Coding Jedi with a Passion for Innovation”. 

Summary: Highly skilled IT professional with a proven track record of designing and implementing cutting-edge software solutions. Adept at using a variety of programming languages and tools to develop applications that meet and exceed client expectations. 

If you’re applying for Sales jobs, you could try the following:

Headline: “Results-Driven Sales Professional with Proven Track Record of Exceeding Targets”. 

Summary: “A results-driven sales professional with a proven track record of exceeding targets and building strong client relationships. Possesses a deep understanding of the sales process and is highly skilled in negotiation, communication, and objection handling.” 

2. Embrace creativity: 

Traditional resumes tend to follow a strict format, with bullet points and a focus on work history and education. However, there’s no official rule that says your resume must look like everyone else’s. So if it fits with the job or sector, embrace your creative side! Consider using a unique design or layout to make your resume stand out. For example, you could use a colourful background, incorporate images or graphics (not too many!), or even use a non-traditional font.

3. Think outside the box with your format: 

Consider a non-traditional format such as a video resume or an infographic. These formats can showcase your creativity and allow you to highlight your skills and experience in a more engaging way. But again, pay attention to the industry and type of job you’re applying to. If it’s too outside the box for you on its own, consider sending your non-traditional communication to compliment your traditional resume.

4. Highlight transferable skills: 

While this should also apply to traditional resumes, if you are changing careers or industries, highlight your transferable skills. This can include skills such as communication, problem-solving, and leadership that are relevant to a variety of roles. These skills are valuable to employers because they show that you have a diverse set of abilities that can be useful in a variety of roles and industries. For a deeper dive on transferable skills, go here.

5. Show your personality: 

While it’s important to maintain a professional tone, don’t be afraid to inject some personality into your resume. Including a personal branding statement or a section on your hobbies and interests can help you stand out and make a memorable impression on potential employers. Just make sure their inclusion makes sense. 

Remember, employers are not just looking for qualifications, but also for individuals who will fit into their company culture. Use your non-traditional resume to showcase your personality and interests, and how they may align with the company culture.

By following these guidelines, you can create a non-traditional resume that effectively showcases your skills and experience in a unique and compelling way.

Examples of Non-Traditional Resumes

Non-traditional resumes can take on many different formats and styles. Here are a few examples of how job seekers have gotten creative with their resumes:

         •        Infographic Resume: This type of resume uses graphics and charts to visually represent the job seeker’s skills and experience. It can be a great way to stand out from other applicants and showcase your design skills.

         •        Video Resume: A video resume is a short video that introduces the job seeker and highlights their skills and experience. It can be a great way to showcase your personality and communication skills.

         •        Portfolio Resume: A portfolio resume is a collection of your best work samples and projects. This type of resume is ideal for creative professionals like writers, designers, and artists.

         •        Social Media Resume: A social media resume is a resume that is designed to be shared on social media platforms like LinkedIn. It can include links to your work samples, recommendations from colleagues, and other relevant information.

Keep in mind that non-traditional resumes may not be appropriate for all industries or job types. It’s important to research the company and position you’re applying for and tailor your resume accordingly.

A great way to stand out (if it makes sense!)

Creating a non-traditional resume can be a great way to stand out from other job applicants. By writing unique headlines and summaries, getting creative, experimenting with traditional formatting, emphasizing transferable skills and adding your personality, you can create a unique and memorable document that will catch the attention of potential employers. But remember, in your quest for creativity, don’t forget about highlighting your achievements, focusing on skills (not just the transferable ones), using the right keywords and all the other things we repeatedly rant about in our blog posts when it comes to writing great resumes. 


Overall, writing a non-traditional resume requires creativity, attention to detail, and a willingness to take risks. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this article, you can create a resume that showcases your unique skills and experiences and sets you apart from other candidates.

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