Tag Archives: informational interviews

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?


Say hello to 2010

Welcome to the first business day of 2010!

Good riddance to 2009. It was a miserable year for a lot of people. If you weren’t directly affected, you knew a whole slew of people who were. It’s time for a fresh start. And I don’t mean in the “It’s a new decade!!1!” kind of way because that’s already getting on my nerves and we’re only 3 days in. Instead, use the “New Year” as an excuse (even if it’s a lame one) to take a closer look at your working life.

Here are 10 things to consider:

  1. No matter what your job situation is, how’s your resume looking? When’s the last time you revisited it? Something is sure to have happened over the last year that would make it worth your while to update, add and purge. Did you include your volunteer somewhere? Did you get a promotion? Did you move? Is your contact info up to date? Getting away from the boring design you had when you graduated college and adding a little creative touch wouldn’t be a bad idea either. I’m gonna work on a list of resume “Do’s and Don’ts” – so be on the look out for that if you need some help.
  2. Along the same lines, think about all of the materials you’ll be submitting to potential employers. If you have portfolios, work samples, writing pieces or the dreaded cover letter (again, something on that in 2010 from me), take a look at all of your templates and make sure you’re still happy with what you might send to employers – or get yourself to a point where you are again.
  3. Has anyone given feedback on what you’ve put together? Once you’ve done something about your resume and the rest of your materials, give them to someone else to look at. A second pair of eyes will catch what the first pair didn’t.
  4. When’s the last time you checked in with your network? Everyone uses their network when they don’t have a job (and if you’re not, why aren’t you?). And keep it up – employee recommendations are the best resource for new hires. But keeping up with those people to find out how they’re doing when you DON’T need anything will make them more likely to help out when you do have a favor to ask. Use “Happy New Year” as a good place to start. Remember your social networks online as well as offline.
  5. If you’re unemployed, how can you change your job search for 2010? What can you use that you aren’t already? Social media is becoming a better resource for jobs than ever before. Try doing a search on Twitter using #jobs for example. Job boards are a way of the past, but there may still be something on there and it can’t hurt to look. Craig’s List is becoming more and more reputable for job postings. And there may be a niche site out there related to your skill set that you could look at.
  6. If you are employed, do you know what else is out there? The grass may actually be greener somewhere else. It can’t hurt to keep looking. And if you’re paying attention, it means that you might stumble upon something to help out one of your unemployed friends. You never know – passing along that job ad to someone could be just the thing they need to get themselves going again.
  7. Have you thought about an informational interview? If you want to get more information about a certain field/career path/position/company/etc., it could be beneficial. But don’t use the informational interview as a “backdoor” into getting a job. As Ask A Manager will tell you, it’s a bad idea.
  8. What certifications/registrations can you add this year? While education may be more expensive than you can handle, a registration may be more affordable and can enhance your resume for something imminent or for your application down the road.
  9. What are your 2010 goals? Sure, think big – you definitely want to “find a job” this year! But think small and more easily attainable at the same time. You can aim to learn a new software program or enhance your typing skills. If you think about it now, you’ll have to time to schedule it in.
  10. And finally, excuse my cheesiness, but remember that you have a whole new year in front of you. 2009 sucked, I already said that. But you’ve got to suck it up and keep going. Get an attitude readjustment, and try thinking about what will happen, not about what happened last year. The beginning of 2010 will suck too, don’t worry. But at least you’ve got a whole new year to make something of. So, like Zac Efron would say, get your head in the game!

Ugh, as if top 10 lists weren’t overused enough. Expect to see them EVERYWHERE in ’10 since they correspond with the year. Glad I could contribute to the fad.

Anything you’d add to the list as we head into the new decade?