Should you pay for a professionally designed resume? Or go the traditional, clean-cut route?

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It’s not even big news anymore when someone does something “crazy” to get a job. Whether it’s a Google or Facebook advertisement, a shoe in a box, or a resume in Trafalgar Square, job seekers are getting more and more aggressive about standing out.

Personally – and as someone who has taken these measures – I love it. The economy blows and the “traditional” resume isn’t so much of a necessity anymore, especially for less traditional job seekers. So when I came across Loft Resumes, I was immediately smitten.

According to their website, Loft helps job seekers stand out in a sea of sameness with stylish resumes. Think unique typography, bold colors and graphics. They say, “Show [employers] that you’re the type of person willing to invest in the most important document you’ll ever create. That just as your resume isn’t status quo, neither are you. And that’s precisely why they need you.” (Someone hired a great copywriter.)

But I was also immediately skeptical. At least $99 for resume design? I thought about how my dear friend and resume writer extraordinaire, Jenny Foss, critiqued my resume last year and gave me some crucial feedback.

I had spiffed it up with some visuals, my logo, etc., and she told me point blank to tone it down. Not because it wasn’t pretty, but because many companies use applicant tracking systems, and if you use a lot of graphical elements in your resume, it might not pass through the system.

So I sent Jenny the link to Loft and asked her opinion. “These resumes would be great for someone in a creative/design-centric field who plans to send the resume directly to the inbox of a hiring manager or contact,” she replied. “Not so much a good idea for an online application, which will more than likely route the resume through an ATS.”

That’s when I emailed Loft co-founder Dodd Caldwell. He told me that about 70 percent of jobs are found through personal networking, while 30 percent are found through career boards. “We fit well with those 70 percent,” he said. “Great visual design can be a positive add-on for the right folks.”

And then, responding to my question about applicant tracking systems, he said, “Our advice for folks who are submitting to places where resume parsing software may be used is that they have a text version of their resume on hand as well and then use the Loft Resume for interviews and emails.”

The takeaway? Hiring a resume writer or paying for a gorgeous design depends on the kind of job you’re looking for. If you’re eager to work for a small, creative startup, they’re sure to respect an out-of-the-box approach. But if your dream is to work for a big corporate, you might offer a resume in a more traditional style.

Now, I’ve been in the desperately-looking-for-work boat, and each and every time I’ve gotten my foot in the door has been through growing a pair and standing out. I’ve never applied to a company who used ATS, though. I hand-delivered (hand-emailed?) all my resumes and almost every single interviewer commented on how much they liked my style.

So there is a place for gorgeously designed resumes that show you’re different, while also really awesomely displaying your credentials.

Of course, job seekers are also notoriously broke. But I’m strongly of the mindset that you have to spend money to make money. And when it comes to getting the perfect job, it’s hugely important to shell out a bit of dough for a resume that shows you in the best possible light (just like an interview outfit that makes you feel stunning).

Have you ever invested in a service or product to help your job search? Did it pay off?

Marian Schembari is a blogger, traveler and all-around social media thug. She’s based in Auckland, New Zealand, hails from Connecticut and blogs at


  1. wellnessbyyoga Rishikesh

    Resume is not a page its all about you .when you make a good resume than only you have to effect the person who is going to take your interview and is all about the first impression is the last impression.

  2. Peggy McKee

    Here’s a video on the best way to write your resume:

  3. Susan Jett

    This is your marketing tool! Be concise and tell a great story, don’t be afraid to highlight your success. You have about 6-8 seconds to grab a recruiters attention, look at it from their eyes and above all….make sure your contact information is correct! Good luck!

  4. Anonymous

    I would pay for a proofreader/editor before hiring a designer to spiff up my resume. It’s so hard to see those typos when you’ve been staring at the thing for 8 hours. Of course, a typo (which may or may not be caught by grammar check) will get your resume booted from the pile much, much faster than a boring design.

  5. Anonymous

    Never ever make your CV fancy. It should always be direct to the point. Remember that anything that has to do with work or company always has to be formal. Everything from top to bottom should always count.

  6. Kish Montecillo

    Resumes should be as simple as possible… a possible employer won’t hire you because of your resume alone, make it formal and credible =) learned this tips from career confidential

  7. Hagan Blount

    I love this sentiment! One thing I wanted to mention was that none of my clients have been in any kind of design field before (I design infographic résumés)! I love the designs over at Loft, but if you are in the design field, you probably shouldn’t buy a $99 template for a résumé 🙂

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