Updated: Sep 3, 2019
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In college, I once had a professional resume critique. It was in some professional development class, and the guy was a guest lecturer. He was not a spring chicken and you could tell he was old school.
Everyone in the class had to turn in a resume to be reviewed and rated. Of course, very few students had real experience. It was college, where everyone was working retail or service industry jobs between essay-writing and eating junk food in our dorm rooms.
Most of my classmates scraped together some information that they hoped made them look somewhat capable and impressive and threw it on a word doc - Times New Roman, black ink. Classic.
I, however, thought I would add a little flair. I was on my third internship at the time, majoring in communication and multimedia, learning a little bit about a lot of different things and hadn't narrowed down a real focus yet.
Since design was a component, I had an online portfolio comprised of high school and college classwork, business cards when I didn't even really have a business, and the beginnings of a personal brand. My brand color at the time was mint green (It was trending big time along with coral in 2013)
So, naturally, my resume was splashed with mint green. I organized it in two columns, which was an emerging idea at the time, and styled it. I thought it was dynamite.
The resume professional absolutely hated it.
He handed back the graded resumes one by one, being very critical of formatting, spelling, and grammar issues. Some students got good reviews, others were scolded.
He saved mine for last and said he'd speak to me after class. Gulp.
It did not fit into his guidelines at all. He preferred that we stay away from funky fonts, colors outside of the grayscale palette, and really anything other than a traditional resume, even in paper type. (Mine was ultra thick cardstock! 😄)
I think he internally vomited the moment he saw mine. The feedback was that it didn't fit his usual criteria and he couldn't endorse it.
His usual criteria.
One open-minded thing that he said was that it would depend what field I was entering, and that he would've rated my resume higher if it had indicated a design field somewhere at the top.
That much is true. If you are going into an old-school, serious field where shenanigans are not tolerated, your resume should reflect that. But in the world of design, marketing, advertising (really all trades where creativity is what you are selling) this has come to be expected.
In fact, when I look at the resumes of design applicants today, I likely will not even consider a candidate who submits a Times New Roman, essay-like word doc. That's your designed first impression?
These are my two main intended takeaways from this:
1. Consider your audience! But be true to yourself. Not everyone will understand the vision.
2. Invest in yourself. Your personal brand and professional development are always a good investment.
If you haven't yet, check out my free resume templates.