After 20 + years in the advertising and design business, I’ve seen many a resumé come by my desk. Some good and some not so good. Here are some tips primarily for the creative side of the world. Yes, some of these tips could apply to other industries, but these are aimed at the designers, art directors and copywriters looking to create or tune up their presentation.
1) Keep it simple. You’ve probably heard this many times, but it’s true. Don’t complicate getting through your information with a lot of extraneous detail. Be direct. Be concise. Keep it clean.
2) Keep it brief. I prefer to keep my resumé at one to two pages. Other than that, it gets a little wordy. Explain your position and roles with each company. If you’ve been to a few places, try to keep it to one line. If you’ve got awards, don’t log in each and every one, just give the basics. They’ll get the idea.
3) Design the page. You’re in the design business, right? I can tell a good, solid art director just from looking at their resumé. Is it well-designed? Can I find all the pertinent information? Does the text read well? These are all considerations that a good designer already knows and uses every day.
This is an opportunity to set yourself apart from the other straight-down-the-center layouts you always seen from the Word DOC crowd. Try two columns, three columns, justified, etc. You’ve got the software, show them how you can use it.
4) Branding you. Just like all the day-to-day assignments you get for clients, you need to create your own brand. This will probably be one of the hardest things you will ever do, but it will set the tone for your total presentation. Not only should this work on the resumé, but also with business cards, work sample pages and of course, your website.
5) Color! This ain’t the old days, when you could only select from whatever the local print shop had in stock (linen stock, ewww). You can print in color–so do it. Nothing sets off your new branding like a snappy color! Of course, you can narrow it down to your favorite colors and go from there. But, do show some restraint and keep it readable just like anything else you might put together for a client.
6) Paper selection. And where there’s color, you need to have the right paper stock to show it off. Now, you can get all sorts of weights and finishes to really make that resumé pop. My personal favorite is the heavier matte stocks. People really notice it when you hand it to them. This can really make a difference when your stuff is sitting there in a big pile. It’s all in the details.
7) PDF not DOC. Along with making your resumé look and read well, you’ve got to make it easily accessible. Often times, agencies and recruiters want you to e-mail them your samples and information. With the mass standardization of PDF format, almost anyone can receive your work and be able to view it. You can create your resumé in Illustrator, InDesign, Quark or others and export it accordingly.
Although a Word DOC is also common for sending a resumé, it is really not made for doing great design (although not easily). Primarily, these versions are for databases and not looked at for great layouts. Do keep a version in Word available, should anyone ask.
8) Proofread! I can’t stress this one enough. Spell check is a wonderful technical advancement, use it. Nothing says you’re asleep at the wheel like a big, fat typo. Take the time to have a friend you trust look over it. Also, try not to rush through this step. Sometimes, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity with an agency you really want to work for, so don’t blow it over something as minor and important as this.
9) Please, no photos. I can say from experience, not many recruiters or agency folks want to see how creative you are with your mug on the page. Let your layout and information do the talking. Save that shot for your next book bio or gallery show.
10) Keep it current. By all means, don’t spend hours and hours on this self-promotion creation only to leave it on the shelf. With today’s job market, you need to have your options open. You never know when that big break may come along. Keep several copies printed out and ready, or sitting in a folder on your hard drive.
Hopefully, these tips can get you on your way to a really great new position. Good luck with that.