Summary: I took on Leigh Householder and did a makeover of my own resume. The key lesson I learned is that you need to showcase your individual personality on paper every way you can.
The incomparable Leigh Householder has been doing a series of posts on Advergirl where she takes a readers resume, and fully redesigns it — both the content and the visuals. Her latest redesign of a new ad account exec was such a huge transformation that it inspired me, nay, made me realize how awful the resume I’ve been sending out has been. And since I’m hunting around for a new job… well, now or never for a resume makeover.
So, I started with a few visual elements Leigh used and completely re-did the layout and some of the wording of my own resume. Thanks to Marilyn Matty for her suggestions on how to rework some of the content. Here’s the final product (PDF), which leapfrogs what I had before:
Here are some of the changes I made:
- Expanded to TWO pages. It was drilled into me in grad school that your resume should be only a page. Bullshyte, I say. If you have valuable content to share that on a quick glance by a manager will impress, offer it up. So I expanded my resume to two pages by dedicating the whole second page to my Forrester reports — which are writing examples basically.
- Created a “Who I Am” section. Before I had an “Objective” at the beginning of my resume. But it didn’t add much value, just seemed like the standard thing to do. And in the recent job interviews I’ve had, I’ve noticed HR people don’t know how to make sense of my background. I’m a game designer…. web strategist… young consumer design aficionado… huh?? So this Who I am blurb I found in a Ms. Householder redesign should hopefully frame me upfront.
- Visual treatment matters. There are a ton of career portals and company sites that will only let you submit a WORD (.doc) resume. Some will even only let you submit raw text! So it’s pretty easy to get dismayed if you want to use a nicer-looking PDF format. But especially in the marketing/design space, the look you achieve and the way you organize information counts enormously, and can say a lot about how you approach things.
- Use simple tools to express yourself. For changing the look, I started by creating an eye-catching header, selected a few complimentary colors, and added some torn-paper backgrounds. I used Word 2002 and Photoshop, and then Adobe PDF maker. One thing I realized is that after I agreed to expand my resume to two pages, I could really open up the font size, which looks so much better.
- Cut out the filler. If there’s a job from your college years, or some description that is not totally unnecessary or descriptive, delete. It’s probably much better to showcase a few diamonds, and leave out the lumps of coal. Yea, I can’t think of a better analogy right now.
Below is what my older resume looked like, from just a few weeks ago, as of April 2008:
I’m glad that sucker is gone.
But looking back at some of my resumes from even longer ago, it’s surprising to see the stark contrast. Want to see what got me my current job as a Researcher at Forrester? I’m embarassed to put this up on the web, but I’m sharing it because it shows just how much can change if you keep refining and iterating.