Resume “rules” are in place for a reason, and most of the time, following the rules will get job seekers past the gates, win the attention they need, and allow them to land an all-important interview invitation. After that, applicants can let their personality take the wheel and feel free to do things their own way. But until that moment arrives, following the rules is usually a smart course of action, since it makes resumes easier for hiring managers to read, understand, and compare.
But every now and then, managers in every industry come across a resume that ignores the rules and still takes the spotlight. Here’s what a few of these rule-breaking resumes look like. If you submit one of these, prepare to stay in the running…and maybe even take the lead.
The Resume from a Candidate with No Experience
This candidate has plenty of experience—just not the experience the employers specifically requested in the job post. But somehow she makes this resume work by drawing clear lines between what she can do, what she’s done in the past, and how these credentials can translate to success in the job at hand. This kind of resume usually comes from job seekers who are in the middle of a career transition, and when it works, it can launch these mid-life career shifters in a new direction.
The Resume for a Job Nobody Posted
Most of the time, managers like resumes from applicants who know how to read a post and follow directions. If the resume simply regurgitates the exact qualifications and personal qualities the employers have specifically requested (even better, using the exact same wording), that’s a plus. But this won’t work for an applicant who’s submitting a cold proposal for a job that hasn’t been posted, or a job that doesn’t even exist yet. If you want a job that you can’t find listed on any job board, don’t let that stop you. Apply anyway.
The Resume with Unconventionally Organized Subheadings
Sometimes it’s a good idea to place your best and strongest credentials at the top of your resume, even if it means rearranging the conventional order of resume subheadings. If your education isn’t your best selling point, drop it to the bottom of the page. If you want employers to know about something amazing that you accomplished at a job you held three jobs ago, bring that to the top.
The Funny, Quirky Resume
Here at LiveCareer, our general rule is simple: No jokes. There’s a time and a place for attempts at humor, and a professional resume isn’t one of them. But we’re the first to admit that every rule has an exception. And if you can pull it off, go for it. Real humor that actually makes a manager LOL will demonstrate confidence, a fun personality, and a willingness to take risks.
It Offers Only One Thing: And it’s The Only Thing That Matters
There’s no rule that says hiring managers have to keep searching through a giant pool of candidates after they find the one they want. Sometimes, hiring is like the search for love: When you know, you know. Managers sometimes come across a resume that offers one credential, one rare skill, or one perfect combination of qualities that makes them toss every other resume aside and end the search then and there. When they see this winning line, they don’t go through the rest of the resume with a fine tooth comb looking for typos. They just pick up the phone.
Make Your Resume Stand Out
As you edit your resume and submit it to employers, make sure you follow every rule and stay inside the lines at all times…or don’t. A visit to LiveCareer can help you determine when it’s time to obey the status quo and when it’s time to do your own thing. Use the site’s Resume Builder and Cover Letter Builder for guidance.