Editor’s note: I made some minor edits from the original post. Thanks to keen eyes for noting my initial proofreading failure. The content is the same, but the spelling and grammar edits have been corrected.
I got a tip from Bryant Turnage (aka @turnageb), one of my awesome readers, about a resume guide for creative professionals put together by Derek Leavitt, an architect. While resumes are typically textual in nature, this guide makes the point that designers are significantly more visual in the work that they do, so their applications should reflect that.
Working as an HR guy for an architecture firm, this was right up my alley.
For those of you who aren’t in creative professions, don’t worry, this actually applies to you just the same. You may not have the expectation to build in imagery (and if you’re a lawyer or an accountant, for example, it’s probably discouraged), but many of the principles are universal.
I’m on board with the philosophy. There are no “must have” things for your resume, no key phrasing or imagery that will automatically signify that you’ll get the job. But honestly, there are no limits. Often times, you should break “the rules” and try something different. One small change: you should be trying to be bold and different AND creating something of enormous value – it’s not easy, but when you do it right, you’ll speak to employers on two levels.
Moving on to format, I’m in more of a disagreement mode. Yes, please add imagery to your standard resume. Nothing’s bores me more than seeing the Microsoft Word template replaced with your name and job history. But please DON’T send me a print resume booklet. We’re desperately trying to go paperless (sustainability, anyone?) and keep better track of our candidates to be able to call on people well after they apply when we have an opening. If you send me a resume shaped like an origami crane, as beautiful as that may be, I can’t possibly store it anywhere. What I’ll do is take the key information and log it into my database and then throw it out. No, I won’t feel guilty about it – my desk is cluttered enough as it is.
To the next point, go ahead and put your website and YouTube videos together, but make that a supplement to and NOT a replacement for the standard resume. That one’s actually to help hiring managers. I’ll do my research based on what you give me, but I have a hard time convincing those folks to do multiple clicks for the sake of a candidate.
As far as content goes, this is actually pretty awesome. Less is definitely more. Be personal and tell me about yourself. I’ll add that I want to know who you are and why you want to work with us (and not just how awesome you may be). And the last one is the kicker: show off your business skills. Even designers have to have them, so don’t ignore that.
One change: I don’t want a picture of you on your resume. The ones that come with photos are, honestly, a bit creepy. And more seriously, photos can potentially lead hiring managers to make decisions based solely on what they see, which is a clear violation of Equal Employment Opportunity laws. You’re better off not dealing with that and helping employers reduce liability.
And here’s where I lose it. Don’t do anything on this Delivery page. At all. If you want a job, don’t ask for an informational interview – that’s a waste of everyone’s time and I promise you I won’t hire you if you lie and disturb my employees because of that. As for submitting materials, most places have a process written on their website for applying. If we wanted something else, we would have that up instead. Not following the rules is just going to annoy whoever is supposed to receive your resume. And definitely don’t stop by to ask what to do. That’s just not necessary. Don’t you dare give me a call after you’ve submitted your resume. It’s one of my goals to write everyone back, so I do, but I understand that I’m in the minority – not everyone has the time. So if that’s the case, calling to ask if your application was received and what the next step is certainly not going to make people happy to talk to you.
So while this does have specific tools for you as a creative professional, ultimately, you’re in the same boat as everyone else. You do have expectations related to your imagery, but as far as philosophy, format, content and delivery go, it’s no different for you. I’ll repeat, gimmicks don’t work. If you’re the best candidate, prove it on your application. Plain and simple. What you should really be focusing on is building the relationships in advance and then developing a position in conjunction with HR and hiring managers. If you do that, all of this stuff becomes significantly less important, doesn’t it?