Tag Archives: gimmicks

Do creative types really need their own resume guide?

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?

Advertisements

YOU be the judge.

In my previous post about finding a job through significant persistence, I wrote about my experience as a ballroom dance judge. There are so many people out on the floor that sometimes some of them can get lost. Sometimes, this happens to applicants as well, but it’s not a reason to despair.

In response, the awesome Matt Hawk asked this in the comments:

Mike, as a ballroom dance judge you mentioned you were unable to notice all the dancers. I’m sure it wasn’t a day-glo orange safety vest, but how did you use that knowledge to become more noticable when you did go back to the dance floor? Crisper steps, higher kicks, brighter outfits?

What tactical advice would you give a job seeker? Paper weight/color? Font? Language style? I’d be curious to hear.

Equipped with the knowledge of what a judge is doing and looking for, I made almost no alterations to my practice habits. Sure, I continued working with my partner, improving my technique and enhancing my presentation like I had already been doing, but beyond that, I didn’t make any changes. What’s the alternative? Positioning myself directly in front of judgse so they have to see me? Well, that actually guarantees I won’t be picked. Get a flashier outfit that calls attention to me right away? I’ll admit that my costume is flashy enough as it is (yes, there are rhinestones) that too much more would be tasteless and would turn judges off. The moral here is that gimmicks don’t work.

What did differ was my mental state. Knowing that my dancing would shine though if it was good enough and that the only thing I could do was to dance my best, I stopped feeling like I had to force the issue to be seen and simply danced my heart out while having a good time – I stopped caring about the judges and focused more on what I was doing. In others, I instilled a level of confidence in myself that I didn’t have before.

And that is exactly what I would suggest to job seekers out there. Make your work your best. Show off who you are in the best way possible. Be proud of the work that you’re putting out there. But be sure you put down who you actually are and not who you think someone else wants you to be. No, you won’t get picked every time – I certainly didn’t get called back for every round – but when you do, it will be for the right reasons, because that employer is interested in meeting the candidate represented by the piece of paper.

I recognize that it seems like I’m telling you to do nothing. No, don’t change the font size or the weight of the paper (though there shouldn’t be a paper weight since you should be using e-mail nowadays anyway…). Again, gimmicks don’t work (and you don’t want to work for an employer who responds to gimmicks anyway because that means that the employer only responds to neediness and cries for attention).

What I am suggesting is that you change your state of mind – express your passion for the things that you want. Don’t hesitate to let loose and be honest about who you are (within reason, of course) and what you’re looking for. Employers will respond to it eventually, you just have to give it some time.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?