Sunday, July 1, 2007

How do I write a standard resume that's not so darn boring?

Hi Jess - So you want to know how to write a resume that looks like it came from a designer? Do you have to have one that's 8.5" x 11"? YES (take a look at the other posting about "Getting ready for an interview.")

Why do you need a standard resume anyway? (1) to fax, and (2) most companies are traditional and have a filing system they like to stick to. That's pretty much the only reason. Go ahead and get freaky with your resume, you have the right to. Just have a regular one too.

Don't think that just because you're a graphic designer, you have to show something exquisite in your standard resume. In fact, many people get burned here because they over do it. The problem I see most is very small type. Keep in mind - there's a chance that your resume will get passed around within the department or even faxed out. Keep the type on your standard resume 10-11 pt. Yes, you should create this in our lovely Microsoft Word. Don't design your standard resume in InDesign or some other layout program. Keep it simple, because it creates less hassle later when you try to send it or update it.

The layout
Believe it or not, being conservative is really the way to go. Use white space to your advantage here, and don't let the text over-crowed the space. Please avoid funky art work and text placement. Avoid adding any photos or visual samples at all. Your standard resume should be text only. Yes, you can do a gentle treatment with simple lines, or what have you. The emphasis should be your content -- let the type do the talking. An agency will appreciate your simplicity as an entry-level designer.

If you want people to see your art ingeniousness, save it for your interview when you wow them with your portfolio.

Here's the order of your resume:

HEADER Create your own letterhead. Here's your chance to get creative. If you have an online resume or portfolio. This is a great place for you to put the url. Make your name large! (at least 18 point) and yes, put all your contact info on there, including your address. You MUST have an e-mail address, as this is the preferred way companies contact (for some reason). Your e-mail address should be professional not Please, if you're gonna be professional, do it all the way.

OBJECTIVE Should be only one sentence and get to the point. "Seeking a position as an entry-level graphic designer for a local design boutique."

EDUCATION Most recent on top. State the name of your college or university, the degree you are receiving and the year your graduate. If you're GPA is lower than 2.5 -- do not put your GPA. (Be sure to spell your school name and degree name correctly. You'll be surprised, that this is a VERY common mistake.) Do not put your high school. Only put your higher education, and YES, even if you didn't finish your degree. If you're still in school you can say "Expected graduation: 12/07"

EXPERIENCE Again, put the most recent on top. Start with the company name and dates (M/YR) on one line. Next line should be your title. The description of your responsibilities SHOULD BE BULLETED with one statement on each line. Be sure to start each line with a verb, "maximized profits by 23%" or "trained employees to ..." Got the idea?

AWARDS/COMPETITIONS Simply list out the award, who gave it to you, and the year. That's all you need here.

CONTINUED EDUCATION Say the class or program you're taking and the year.

PROGRAMS/SKILLS You can list these all the way down, but don't be afraid to use your tabs and create evenly spaced columns. Try to organize things in some fashion. All print programs together, all Web programs together, all soft skills together, etc.

REFERENCES I think it's better to attach this to your resume. (ON A SEPARATE PAGE BY ITSELF). Forget the notion of "reference available upon request." Who the heck came up with that nonsense?? It just saves you trouble of having to dig it up for someone. It also shows that you're more confident about people researching your credentials. Hook em' up already.

In general, your resume should have ...
•Headers should be bold and contrasting from the body text. I like to see the headers off to the side with the copy indented, making it easier to read the sections.

•Don't use funky colors. Think KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)

•Keep your resume to one page with your references on another. The only reason you would need to go past one page is if you've got a lot of experience that really will justify your credentials for that next position.

•Don't forget to use WHITE SPACE!!

•Use a focus group. Show your resume around and tell them to give you the down low on their first impression. You should never make an employer strain their eyes trying to find something. I can tell you right now, they're gonna trash it. There are many other candidates who have easier resumes to read!

•Keep the layout consistent - especially with the em dashes. (<-- look it up)

I hope this helps, Jess. Feel free to place your comments by selecting the "comments" link down below.

What things have you seen in other creative resumes? Select the "comments" link below to post your response.

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