Woman holding a video camera

Five non-traditional resume formats to make yours stand out from the pack

Simon Cohen|

If you’re on the prowl for a new gig, I already know something about you: You’re sick to death of working on your resume.

Can’t say I blame you. These documents can be dry as dust. I remember the first time I assembled one – “Oh my god, is this really who I am?”

When people talk about someone being two-dimensional, I always think of a piece of paper. Boring. A resume. This is the thing that is supposed to land you an interview? It seems purpose-built to make you blend in, not stand out.

Workopolis reached out to Joachim Ravoth, a Digital Career Consultant and Principal at JR Marketing, to find out if and when, departing from the tried and true (and boring) resume is a good idea.

“The traditional paper-based resume is already being replaced,” Ravoth says. “Depending on who your target is and how you would like to brand yourself, sometimes you have to come up with creative solutions to stand out.”

Now I know that there are plenty of jobs out there for which a standard resume is mandatory. You simply can’t get through the application process without one. But there will also be times when you can break free from that paper prison and give potential employers a truer sense of who you are.

Here then, are five ways you can surprise and impress your way into an interview with high-tech alternatives to the traditional resume.

The Video Resume

In its simplest form, a video resume is you, in front of the camera, speaking for 1-2 minutes about who you are and what you can do.

But beware: If that actually describes your video resume, go back to paper – your audience will be asleep before it’s over. Instead, you’ll need to get creative with all of the elements: Lighting, framing, editing and scripting. Remember, this is supposed to enhance your chances of getting an interview so your video resume needs to present you as someone worth getting to know.

The Guardian has some good tips on how to make a successful video resume including the sensible note: “Filming in an untidy environment, not speaking clearly and shuffling paper, are some of the most frequent blunders.”

Making a creative video resume comes with risks, however Ravoth thinks this is unavoidable, saying, “If you really want to think a bit out of the box you have to take risks.” But he’s quick to caution that, “Not all employers will appreciate this. You need to understand your audience sentiment.”

The Vine Resume

Vine is the video companion app to Twitter.  And if tweets are the most compressed form of written communication online at only 140 characters, Vines are the most compressed form of video at a blink-and-you-miss-it six seconds long. What can you do with six seconds? You’d be surprised. Check out this funny yet to-the-point Vine resume. Its creator was able to fuse her most important skills with amusing props to get her point across. Moreover, it worked.

Ravoth really likes Vine, “You can get the message across fast and it lets potential employers see your non verbal communications skills,” he points out.

Creating a Vine is near-effortless thanks to the Vine app, but much like the video resume, care needs to be taken that your Vine is saying the right things about you. By all means, get creative with your six seconds, but as Ravoth rightly observes, “In the banking sector creativity will be defined differently than in the fashion industry. Job seekers have to understand this.”

Also understand that not everyone agrees that making a Vine resume is the best thing for your job hunt.

The Visual C.V.

For years, enterprising job hunters have created their own websites to augment their paper-based resumes. The biggest pitfall with these (much like with videos) is that if you’re not careful or you don’t have a good eye for design, a website can turn off, rather than entice a recruiter. To make the process of creating a strong yet visually appealing web presence easier, VisualCV.com has developed a platform for transforming old-school resumes into new-age digital designs.

One way to think of VisualCV is it’s a LinkedIn profile with more design options and less restrictive rules.

Check out this example. It’s only for demonstration purposes (Kristen Pierce isn’t a real person) but it’s clean, simple, and attractive and it presents the fictitious owner in a very professional light. Best of all, when recruiters check it out, they’re offered a downloadable PDF version for their records. Here’s a real example belonging to venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki. VisualCVs are free to create.


Though still in beta, Visualize.me is part of a new breed of design-centric web tools that endeavors to present your resume material in a visually appealing way. It has more in common with an infographic than with a resume, but it presents all of the same critical info.

The easiest way to use the free Visualize.me tool is to connect it to your existing LinkedIn profile (you do have one of these, don’t you?). It can import all of your relevant data such as name, title, education, jobs etc, but it will only display the top level. E.g., job titles will appear but to see the descriptions, you’ll need to mouse over them. If you don’t have a LinkedIn account – or you don’t want to link to it – you can populate your Visualize.me page manually.

Some of the pre-built templates are garish and others might not be suitable for your purposes, but you can customize it to fit your needs. The result is an online resume that gives potential recruiters something different to look at than the standard format.

Perhaps the best part of Visualize.me is the user dashboard, where you can see how many times your resume has been seen, which sites visitors were referred from and which industry they belong to.


Prezi, the free, online presentation tool, is like PowerPoint mashed up with YouTube. Sort of.

Since Prezi was introduced in 2009 millions of users have signed up to take advantage of its unique interface which lets you organize the text, images and video that you want to present as a “zoomable” landscape.

That isn’t going to make a lot of sense until you see one in action.

Prezis are embeddable, just like YouTube videos. Your viewers will need to have Flash installed (or the free Prezi viewer app for iOS) but since the majority of browsers already have Flash embedded, it should work seamlessly.

In the past few years, Prezi has become so popular for the creation of online resumes, they’ve even coined a term for them – “Prezumes.”

Some Prezumes are predictably awful, while others are stunning.

The key to creating a successful Prezume? Avoid using the zooming feature too much. Not only can it be distracting, it’s actually been known to make some users feel ill (see “awful”, above). Also, know your strengths. If you are a talented designer, Prezi can be a great tool to show off your chops. If you aren’t, keep it simple.

Whichever of these digital tools you use to augment your resume, make sure it presents you in the best possible light. If you’re not sure, seek feedback from trusted friends and family, or better yet, a former employer. They know you and your strengths best.


Simon_Cohen.jpgSimon Cohen is one of Canada’s most experienced Consumer Tech voices. He created Sync.ca, an award-winning Canadian technology blog which had an audience of over 500,000 monthly visitors. He has appeared as a guest numerous times on national TV and radio programmes, including Canada AM, Sync Up (a weekly segment on CTV News Channel) and App Central. He is currently an independent writer and editor contributing to various publications, but you can always find his thoughts and musings on his blog at excitable.ca.

Category: Job Search Strategies, Resumes, Resumes and Cover Letters
  • http://about.me/davidalangay David Gay

    A concern I have with the video format for a resume is that it will reveal your age. While some experts may say there is no such thing as ageism, I can tell you from my own experience, and talking with those both in their early 20s and late 50s/early 60s that it does in fact exist.

    I’ve never been a fan of the fact one has to market themselves like a consumer product, and the fact one has to focus more on their personal image instead of their past record using this format is a bit disturbing. It reminds me of the time a woman marketed herself using a Lego-ized version of herself for a position she wanted (I actually wrote about this in a post on my job search blog: http://davidalangay.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/the-joke-is-on-us/)

    • Charles

      One thing that may never change about humans is how much we are driven by our most basic senses everyday, smell, taste, touch amongst other things and in this case our visuals.

      Its true a piece of paper is two dimensional, and is exceedingly difficult to really give a person the depth that we all deserve, and thus these new types of visual resumes are born.

      Personally, I like how we are now able to give our resumes a bit more depth.

      I some times equate looking for work much like shopping for a car (depending on if your hiring or if your wanting to be hired). Sure all cars full fill that basic need of moving a person from point A to B, and really on the most basic level thats what an employer (or employee) is looking for. Someone to get the job done (or someone to pay me).

      But of course, do you want leather, sun roof, speed, or that cool color red start to come into play.

      Do we want someone that can simply get the job done, or do we need a little extra something and vice versa. An employee can get paid anywhere, but then other factors also come into play (location, colleagues, opportunity).

      Companies now are using a lot more videos and websites to advertise why people should work for them, its nice to be able to also do the same thing and build a personal brand.

  • Dustin MacDonald

    Was it really necessary to link to an actual Prezi-resume as an example of an awful one? Seems to be exposing her personal information (phone number, Skype) to a wide audience without a significant benefit to the reader.

  • Nathan W

    If doing presentations is important, you can prepare a ppt presentation and record yourself giving that presentation. It’s a very easy to use tool and you can upload it to dropbox and share the link as a part of a CV or cover letter. Don’t forget to keep each slide very simple. Just summarize the main few points and then spend some time speaking about each of them. If there is an image to discuss, be prepared to structure your discussion of the graph or image if you are not accustomed to presenting that kind of concept or result.

    I work with words and ideas, not so much design. But if you have critical feedback on nathanweatherdon.com as a point of contact for referred clients, is it more than welcome. I assume that employers will find this site while doing a background check after an application.