How a ‘Rainbow CV’ got results

The official job-hunting advice is to produce a plain CV which is easily read by computer applications. However  Steve Chernishov found there can be times when you need to break away from the standard approach.

Guest blog from Steve Chernishov

At first I developed a traditionally formatted CV and focused heavily on using models/templates. After sending a lot of those out (and getting no phone calls), I decided that the plain look and formal writing did not represent me well, so I decided to be bold.

A set of coloured pages containing a CV

Steve applied his marketing and design skills and built a ‘Rainbow CV’

Making beautiful documents to market a service or product was something I offered for others, so I made the call to do the same with presenting my own services.

Did you contact any employers for feedback on your CV?

Yes, here is some written feedback I received:

“It’s a stunning and effective CV.”

“In a competitive market you need something that stands out from the rest and your CV definitely does that. Not only does it communicate the key messages it also showcases your creative ability in a document that is traditionally very plain.”

“Beautifully presented, a great flow and clever use of negative space and colour.”

“It sure stands out; and reflects you…isn’t that what you need in a CV?”

Did you ask anyone else for feedback?

I conversed quite a bit with a career consultant and my sister, who gave a lot of conventional advice and some really common-sense guidelines.

I also listened to the silence – I mean, when we take action and it does not produce the results we are going for, then that in itself is a sign to consider new action.

Did you get more interest from employers with your new-look CV?

Just yesterday I got a phone call from an employer, and they have invited me to Auckland to meet in person. The lady was very enthusiastic over the phone saying that she related well to the CV. She said,

A page from Steve's Rainbow CV showcasing his Media skills

Steve’s skills bounce off the page

“It’s really out there, different, colourful and dynamic! We think you have something unique to offer and so want to meet you in person.”

I like being appreciated for expressing my personality, not just for offering skills. Actually, that is a big part of what we seek in the workplace – to be valued as individuals, and appreciated for who we are, even while we get on with solving functional market needs.

How did you deal with the readability of your new CV?

After creating the rainbow CV, I got feedback from friends on how the document looked when opened in different web browsers and on various computers. After sending the rainbow CV out to friends, I discovered that you have to be careful about which fonts you select. Some fonts simply will not display properly, so you must get feedback from people who use different types of computers, etc.

Occasionally, someone has mentioned that colour-blind people might struggle to read the rainbow CV (which is a good point). I have chosen to use bright colours and inspiring layouts anyway.

What about machine-readability? How did you address that?

The database-driven CV processing systems that are being used now are to deal with large amounts of traffic. The logic behind it is very much similar to the grading systems used in schools. What these systems are searching for is the best, most highly qualified person, who has a proven track record with previous experience.

Some of us don’t have that history though, and I am one of them!

I started out my career as an entrepreneur – created a media company, ran it for several years; working on a contract basis to create marketing media (I have also worked on staff at Otago University and in a secondary school).

I am highly valued in the workplace because of my interpersonal skills, creativity, innovative thinking and for fostering positive atmospheres. No computer system can read the value of that.

So go for what you want, and think about how creativity will be central to the next phase of developing new services.
Successful businesses = creativity + innovation + systems + you in action.

What advice would you give to someone worried their CV is too boring?

Ask yourself questions. Think about how you can inspire and encourage someone. Realise that you are unique and decide that you want to make a positive contribution to the world. Envisage yourself in the workplace where your passions, skills and talents are appreciated and imagine what the atmosphere in that workplace is like.

Water droplets on a rainbow coloured surface

“Believe that you have the power to make a difference”

Believe that you have the power to make a difference by offering services, helping to create or distribute products, and being part of a system. Then think, “How can I take this information from my boring CV and present my enthusiasm for life as well as my willingness to work?

I reckon, ‘Keep a big vision, work really hard on being present in the moment, and communicate well.’

If you are getting stuck on details when designing your rainbow CV, then you are probably trying too hard. Take a break, keep it fresh, be bold and beautiful.
Having made several versions of the rainbow CV now, I really feel that what it comes down to is thinking about your reader – who they are likely to be, what kinds of jobs they want to get done, how design and creativity could be used in the marketplace – then express yourself to suit.

Photo credit: 55Laney69 via photopin



  1. mikedooley2013

    Excellent blog Steve! Some caution should be exercised as regards the medium and useage of your CV though. If the CV is sent electronically, then colour is a bonus but if it’s likely to be printed by the recipient in black and white, make sure the colours used have sufficient contrast to render your CV legible.

  2. socialprominence

    Great idea Steve. You could take this a step further and load your CV onto Behance and Pinterest. Both of these sites provide a great platform to demonstrate your expertise and even better most media companies are now searching them for potential employees.

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