How to draft a resume

Creative application: 14 simple tricks for a cover letter & CV

Be unique - not good! A creative application attracts attention instead of getting lost in the crowd. In fact, HR professionals only take a few minutes to select candidates. 08/15 documents are easily overlooked and forgotten. The first impression counts - and so the creative application can bring you closer to the dream job. We show how you can maximize your chances with a professional and creative application and which tips and tricks you can use to give your documents that certain something ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

What is a creative application?

The creative application is a form of application in which applicants consciously break with conventions. Changes in design, layout or content are made consciously compared to the classic standard application. The aim of the creative application is to attract attention. She wants to surprise positively, set impulses, be remembered. On top of that, it should give a foretaste of the applicant's creativity and ingenuity.

Each application should be written individually and be written in an original way. The creative application goes beyond that - but without neglecting the content. The substance also has to be right and suitable for creative applications.

Checklist: the most important things in a nutshell

  • With the creative application you can positively stand out from the crowd of standard applications. This application is everything - just not according to the scheme F.
  • The creative application impresses with its original language, unique design, surprising content and formats.
  • The design of the application should match the target company and dream job. Despite creativity, the layout must appear professional and appropriate.
  • Despite a lot of freedom, the content counts first when it comes to creative applications. He must meet the requirements of the position, the information must be clear and can be captured quickly.

Individual design

When it comes to layout and design, you have most options to break out of the corset of the standard application and get creative. The following tips and tricks should serve as suggestions and inspiration. The general rule is: Don't be afraid to do something! Success is mostly with the brave ...

Surprise with colors

Applications don't just have to be black, white and gray. It looks elegant, but it can also get boring quickly. Colors can have a positive effect in creative applications. For example, by placing the logo colors of the target company discreetly and thus subtly signaling identification. But only use one, maximum two colors.

Play with formats

You won't go wrong with the classic DIN A4 portrait format according to DIN 5008 - but you cannot surprise or attract attention either. Why not a creative application in landscape format or square documents? You are already different from 99 percent of the other candidates.

Use modern icons

Graphic elements are a great way to apply creatively. Lines, bullet points and modern icons can represent content in a special way. Hobbies in the résumé can be shown by symbols, for example. You can also add a kind of "mini-short profile" to the tabular curriculum vitae and thus increase its clarity. For example, create a list of your strengths and social skills as well as a scale (1-5 or 1-10) showing how pronounced these are:

Creative cover letter

The cover letter is decisive for the first impression of the application, because it is always on top of the application folder. In order to influence the quick preselection in your favor, you can score with creativity at this point:

Start with a bang

Even the opening sentence should be a blast. If you fall with the door in the house, you come straight to the point. Just don't write: "I am applying here ..." - boring and meaningless! Express your words courageously and confidently. That goes down well with HR professionals. For example like this:

Dear Mr. Mustermann,

It's exactly 20 minutes by bike from my front door to the company headquarters. That means: While the other employees are still stuck in traffic, I could be the first colleague in the office in the morning ...

Rely on cliffhangers

Another trick for creative application: install cliffhangers. These are sentences that astonish the HR manager and encourage them to continue reading or make them curious about further content. An example:

If you want to find out more about how I was able to reduce costs by 15 percent, take a look at the detailed project log in the appendix.

Formulations such as "I would be happy to tell you in a personal conversation what development I am planning for the first six months in your company" are again suitable for the final sentence.

Score with weaknesses

Applications are a song of praise for yourself, full of self-marketing and self-presentation. A creative approach is to break with it and admit that you can't do something. You can score with honest weaknesses. That is authentic and makes you more believable. Do not disqualify weaknesses, but show a realistic self-image and above all a willingness to learn. The only exception: the weaknesses should not be properties that are essential for the job. For example, write:

So far, unfortunately, I still lack experience in dealing with _____. However, I am convinced that I will quickly acquire these skills in your company and in practice and thus create real added value for you.

Creative resume

With a résumé, clarity is the top priority. It's about facts, not gimmicks. In between, however, there is still a creative leeway - in terms of formulations, design (see above) and elements:

Choose a horizontal timeline

Most CVs are structured vertically and antichronologically, i.e. with the most current position first (see also: American CV). When it comes to creative applications, you can do it differently: horizontally and chronologically. Those who are graphically gifted can, for example, present their curriculum vitae in the form of an infographic with a horizontal timeline. There are now some free graphics programs available on the Internet for such visualizations. Resume.up and Prezume's services transform your resume into a horizontal timeline.

Surprise with creative names

Classically, sections in the résumé are divided into “personal data”, “professional career”, “education”, “special knowledge” and “interests and hobbies”. But there is nothing wrong with renaming these sections creatively and thus making it unique. For example, a chef could divide his résumé into the sections “Ingredients”, “Starter”, Main course ”,“ Dessert ”and“ Greetings from the kitchen ”. As long as it remains clear which stations are involved, you are relatively free to formulate the headings.

Add references

Paper is patient and a lot can be said. A confirmation by a well-known third party, on the other hand, works wonders. So why not include references or letters of recommendation in your résumé or in the attachments? These can also be included in the creative résumé in the form of short (!) Quotations.

Examples and forms of creative application

In addition to the above options for designing a creative application, you can also decide to choose a completely different form. It doesn't always have to be the typical paper application. In the following we present some variants for creative application:

Application video

The application video is no longer an innovation, but remains the exception among the numerous application documents. The big advantage: if it's done well, you will definitely be remembered. Ultimately, the application video is a cover letter in moving images and sound. Make your application video entertaining and use the possibilities it offers. Don't just talk about your skills, show them.

There is a clear recommendation also for this creative application if you are actually in front of the camera at the job. Here the clip is a first sample of work. For the same reason, the application video is good if you are behind the camera and, for example, produce or edit content for social media.

Application homepage

Your own application homepage can be an ideal addition to your application. There you can not only store a more detailed résumé, but also shine with work samples (in the download area) or present your competence profile.

The application homepage replaces but not the classic application elements such as cover letter and résumé and is not an independent creative application. It is an original plus point that you refer to in your records. Your homepage can also be a form of passive application in order to be found.

Guerrilla application

The guerrilla application is an extreme form of creative application. She consciously breaks with conventions and crosses borders. According to rumors, entertainer Stefan Raab, for example, always added a jar of honey and a brush to his application. So that not he, but the HR manager can smear honey around his mouth with it. Other candidates rented large advertising posters in the city center or at bus stops with an original job application.

However, those who dare do not always win. The risks of a guerrilla strategy are not small. If the form does not match the personality or the industry or the method overshoots the mark, it quickly becomes embarrassing. Whoever chooses this creative form has to pay more attention to the substance and the content. You have to remain convincing, otherwise it will just be slapstick.

The most famous guerrilla applications on the net include:

  • Playing with vanity
    Alec Brownstein wanted a job with the top five advertising agencies in New York. So he placed advertisements on Google on the names of the top 5 creative directors of the agencies. If they googled themselves, they would first read: "Googling yourself is a lot of fun - hiring me is even more fun". Effect: With a budget of just 50 dollars, Brownstein received four invitations to job interviews and two job offers.
  • Google song
    Matthew Epstein really wanted to join Google - one of the most sought-after employers in the USA. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he finally made a high-pitched music video with a sticky mustache and boxer shorts. Admittedly, Google did not answer him either. But the clip went viral and Epstein was able to choose from numerous attractive job offers.
  • Lego strategy
    To get an internship, marketing student Leah Bowman created her application in Lego design: yourself as a character; She also presented her strengths and talents with Lego features. This creative application also went viral and Bowman was invited to numerous job interviews.

Application mind map

Pictures say more than 1000 words. And because HR managers have little time and still want to see all the important information at a glance, you can accommodate this wish and at the same time prove your creativity: Create your creative application in the form of a clear mind map.

It shows everything a company needs to know about you - only summarized graphically. The following example and sample shows what such a mind map can look like in a creative application:

Application flyer

The application flyer is mainly used as a handout at job fairs, in order to convey information about yourself to companies in a creative way. A concept that can also be applied to creative applications.

Either replace it now the entire application documents through such a flyer. Or you can enclose this as an additional, handy information sheet. In this case, however, it should also offer added value and not just repeat the same information.

For whom is the creative application worthwhile?

A varied design of the documents is the trend, but it should be said clearly: The creative application is not an end in itself. Getting noticed is a necessary but not a sufficient requirement. Precisely because the creative application is so extraordinary, it has to fit the target industry and the job.

The creative application is ideal for Advertising agencies, graphic design, online marketing, public relations, media, event management, sales, gastronomy, architecture. Anyone who can convince with their versatile talents in the application will collect valuable plus points. In conservative industries (banking, insurance, law, medicine, public service) you should rather use a conventional or classic application. Too much creativity with the documents is an indication of a lack of seriousness.

TIP: The creative one can also be a successful form of speculative application. With the ingenuity and effort shown, you not only secure increased attention, but also score with maximum individuality.

Creative application mistake

With all creativity: Your unusual application should always have something like a common thread and a recognizable concept. Those who overshoot the mark look more amateurish and unstructured than creative. You should therefore avoid the following mistakes and faux pas:

  • Clarity
    Form follows function! The design principle applies to every form of application, even for particularly creative ones. Clarity and structure must not suffer. The reader should continue to be able to grasp the content quickly and easily. If the HR manager has to search for a long time, the mess only costs sympathy points.
  • Application photo
    Play with the shape, but never with the motif. Whether portrait or landscape, large or small, color or black and white - you can experiment with it. But you ALWAYS stay serious and professional (dressed). Selfies, filters, snapshots - all taboo!
  • File size
    If you send your creative application by email or upload it in a form when applying online, the attachment must not exceed 5 MB. Otherwise the company's firewall will usually block you.
  • exaggeration
    A modern layout, an original design, eye-catching design - the dose makes the poison. If you overdo it and the application looks in the end as if a unicorn had tipped rainbow glitter over it, you will notice, but also through. Your favorite colors are just as irrelevant in the creative application as design preferences or nerdy ideas. The fish must like the worm, not the angler.
[Photo credit: Karrierebibel.de]

Further sources and advice
Application tips
➠ Application templates
➠ 11 application forms
➠ ABC of application tips
➠ Application folder
➠ Application photo
➠ cover sheet
➠ Brief profile

Tips on the résumé
➠ CV in tabular form
➠ Resume templates
➠ Internships on the CV
➠ hobbies on the resume
➠ Unemployment on the résumé
➠ gaps in the résumé

Tips for covering letters
➠ Cover letter
➠ Introductory sentence in the cover letter
➠ Final sentence in the cover letter
➠ Interests in the cover letter
➠ Strengths in the cover letter
➠ Attachment directory

Tips on the job reference
➠ Assess job reference
➠ Secret codes in the certificate
➠ Interim report
➠ Job description
➠ References & samples

Special applications
➠ Unsolicited application
➠ Internal application
➠ Discreet application
➠ Email application
➠ Online application
➠ Application as a temporary worker
➠ Application for mini jobs
➠ Application after termination