A strong résumé can take you far in your career, but nobody seems to agree on what exactly makes (or breaks) a great résumé.
Well, recently, Karly Pavlinac Blackburn went viral on LinkedIn for a very unconventional (and tasty-looking) résumé — printed on a cake. Karly, who is looking for a role in product marketing or brand management, shared her sweet résumé in a post that’s gotten over 100,000 reactions and more than 4,000 comments.
In the post, she wrote, “A couple of weeks ago I sent my resume on a cake to Nike. Yes, an edible resume on top of a cake. Nike was having a huge celebration for JDI day (Just Do It day). LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick + Other Megastars were at the event. I had done some research and found a division within Nike called Valiant Labs which is a startup incubator for Nike ideas.”
So she did some research and found an Albertson’s with a bakery section to make her custom cake and used Instacart to deliver it to the party — with a special shout-out to her Instacart driver Denise Baldwin, who went the extra mile to get the cake where it needed to go.
Karly wrote, “When Denise was asked to leave the cake on the table at the front desk she said, ‘No, I need to see this go in their hands. I promised Karly I would get this cake to the right person.’ Denise navigated the Nike campus, all while having a sleeping child in one arm and a ½ sheet cake in the other.”
Karly concluded the post, saying, “Delivering the cake that day inspired one person. And maybe this post will inspire more. Helping people realize their potential is what I love to do. At the end of the day it’s not about the cake at all. It is about making things happen and taking a chance outside of the box. Denise did it. She did whatever it took to help me get that cake to Nike. And that is what I do. This is why I am different than the pack.”
And in the comments, many people are praising Karly’s unique résumé and creative thinking. One person wrote, “If the recruitment systems weren’t so broken, people wouldn’t be left to such creative (and maybe desperate) efforts to get noticed in their job search. Most online application[s] never make it in front of a person, which is why applying online is the worst way to get a job. Relationships, networking, and referrals are the way to go. And if a tasty résumé cake helps, then why not?!”
And another commenter wrote, “This woman no matter if Nike hires her or not, just got her résumé to the top dogs at Nike, she also got a post to go viral with at least over a 100,000 people viewing her LinkedIn. So to the negative people that can’t think outside of the box, you didn’t have to eat her cake, but I’d think twice next time you are afraid to think outside the box. If you don’t do something different, you won’t get something you’ve never had. If you’re comfortable you’re not working hard enough.”
She even got replies from recruiters, like this one who wrote, “I love the creativity of this! I see some marketing experience on there and wanted to let you know that I’m currently hiring for a marketing lead!”
But not everyone was sold on Karly’s cake. One commenter wrote, “This is a terrible gimmick. Props if it actually works, but the cake was almost certainly thrown away unceremoniously because people don’t just accept food from strangers at a large corporation.”
And others pointed out that sometimes an outside the box résumé can backfire. One commenter wrote, “This is extremely gimmicky and would be a huge turn off to many professionals. It’s showing you are very out of touch with workplace norms. Creativity can be shown in appropriate ways once you are hired.”
And another chimed in, saying, “While I applaud your creativity and hope to learn if they contacted you at all or not, I must say I am not sure how I feel about the way the Instacart driver is being presented and the idea that being a driver is a lowly job. That’s how your message, the way worded comes across. If you inspired or made her realize her own forgetten worth, great. However, it can be a career choice made intentionally.”
Karly told that a conversation with an old coworker motivated her to take this unusual step. “I was inspired by my former colleague, Trent Gander, to show up in a creative way. A résumé sits in a stack of hundreds of others. I needed a way to make sure my résumé was read.”
She also said that she was very surprised by the response to her post. “It really shocked me. It is amazing to see the power of community come together. All I can hope is that other people see this post and decide to go after their dreams as well.” And she says that she’s since spoken with a few people at Nike.
In my opinion, whether or not it’s a good idea to send an unusual résumé really depends on your audience. If you’re in a creative field, sometimes taking a risk like this can pay off, especially if it speaks to your ability to do the job. But for more traditional paths, it’s usually better to stick to the tried and true.
Now I’m curious — what do you think about Karly’s résumé cake? And have you ever send a non-traditional résumé and gotten the job? Tell me all about it in the comments!