Adam Pacitti wanted to work in media. Each of his 250 job applications, however, were unsuccessful. So he spent his last £500 on a CV billboard, which went viral. He says he subsequently received “around sixty solid job offers”.

Alec Biedrzycki completed four unpaid internships but was struggling to land a paid job. So he created a CV music video. It made the news, he got offered a marketing job, and he’s now a senior Marketing Manager for HubSpot.

Andrew Horner spent his first two years after college jobless. Fed up with recruiters rejecting his resume, he created a “Reverse Job Application” where he demanded employers pitch their job to him. He was contacted by several dozen legitimate companies and ended up taking a job with an “awesome” start-up.

Unusual CVs may be gimmicky and widely criticised, but as these examples show, they can work. If your job hunt is going nowhere, you have little to lose from trying your hand at a more creative approach. But before you empty your bank account on giant billboards and a new guitar, make sure you bear these tips in mind:

1. Make it a CV

Don’t get so caught up in making your CV quirky that you forget to highlight the information employers actually want to see, such as your skills and experience. The traditional CV is popular because it conveys relevant information about a candidate clearly and concisely. No matter how inventive your resume is, it will be rejected if a hiring manager cannot quickly understand who you are and what you want.

Outlandish CV stunts may make the news but the most successful non-traditional formats are infographic and video resumes, which both clearly convey relevant information about the candidate.

2. Make It Unique

Making an unusual CV unique may sound oxymoronic, but even an interviewer who was delighted by the first cake CV they received is likely to be sick of them by the tenth. Take some time to brainstorm various ideas and carefully research the one you select to see if it’s been done before and how well it tends to be received.

Be very careful about copying a well-known CV stunt like those outlined at the start of this article. Even if the hiring manager hasn’t heard of the original, they’re likely to discuss your unusual CV with others who will have. Unusual CVs work when they portray their creator as an exceptionally creative mind who will bring fresh thinking to a team. Someone who rips off other people’s ideas is not so desirable!

3. Make it Relevant

Making a CV video game is undeniably impressive, but is much more likely to generate a job offer from a game developer than a bank. Sending a quirky CV for the sake of being different might get you noticed, but it won’t be half as impressive as someone who uses a non-traditional format to demonstrate their passion for the industry and their detailed research of the company they’re applying for.

If a company has a distinct marketing style or ‘voice’ then mimicking that style in your resume or cover letter shows that you’re familiar with their brand. If the job you’re applying for requires a creative grasp of social media, then utilising social media in your application gives a taste of what ideas you would bring to the role.

Remember that creative CVs work best for creative jobs or companies where out-of-the-box thinking is crucial to job success. However desperate you are to land a job at an accountancy firm, sending a weird CV to a highly corporate or traditional company is likely to be regarded as an indication that you would be a bad fit for their work culture.

4. Make it Good

Drawing attention to yourself is only half the battle – to be hired, you have to be a good candidate. A badly-done resume, regardless of how unusual it is, suggests to hiring managers that you will also be a poor worker. Don’t include graphics in your CV if you don’t have design skills. Don’t bake a resume cake if you’re a terrible cook.

A poorly done unique CV will certainly stick in interviewer’s minds – but for all the wrong reasons. You don’t want to be the laughing stock of the office.

5. Make it for Decision Makers

Recruiters and HR professionals are busy people. They have very little interest in anything that makes their life more difficult, and that includes resumes which take longer to read and process because they do not conform to a standard. You might be willing to risk sending a marmite resume to a hot-shot company or individual, but recruiters who step outside of client specifications may be risking the relationship.

As a rule of thumb, the more people who have to approve your quirky CV the more likely it is to be rejected.

6. Make a Plan B

Unusual CVs are hugely risky. Even in marketing and advertising, around two-thirds of executives would much prefer a traditional CV. Come across a hiring manager who finds quirky CVs irritating and gimmicky, and you’re likely to be rejected on the spot.

Always send a traditional CV alongside your creative version. This is especially important to ensure you can counter any Applicant Tracking Software that may be being used. ATS scans documents for keywords and rejects 75% of resumes before a human ever reads them. Because unusual CVs tend to be formatted in ways ATS cannot read, a creative resume may never reach the hiring manager it is intended for.