Monday, January 23, 2012

Lulu Brown's basic guide to resumes

With the economy slowly recovering, and a rash of new Redlined Resumes to post (I know, it's been forever!), I wanted to post (or even repost) about my basic rules for architectural intern resumes.  First, a caveat: this advice is based on my professional experience plus the experience of some of my colleagues; while it's based in hiring and recruiting realities, it's not set in stone.  You may get the perfect job by breaking one or more of my rules, so there are no promises here.  However, it's never a bad idea to have someone who's already in the business to look over your resume and find misspellings, flaws, graphic issues, etc.  That's what I'm here for.

And so, my basic rules:

  1. If you're unlicensed, keep your resume to one page. I've caught some heat for this in the past, but I think if you ignore every other Lulu Brown Resume Rule, stick with this one.  I advise the one page rule for two reasons: it keeps you honest and it makes you more visible.  If you aren't licensed yet and are less than ten years out of college, you truly haven't done enough to warrant two pages for a resume.  If you do have tons of cool projects and awards and activities, you need to edit them to be the most relevant for the firm(s) to which you're applying.  Also, if you are unlicensed with less than ten years' experience and you give me two pages to muck through while looking for a potential new employee, you're making me work too hard to see why I should hire you.  It's a resume, not a thesis. (Note: the only way I might give you two pages is if you were in the military and did some pretty badass stuff while you were there.)
  2. Get rid of anything from high school.  Working at various high school jobs definitely builds character and teaches you the value of an honest day's work.  However, if you've graduated from college, high school is now moot.  I realize that also means deleting that fact that you were in the Governor's Honors program for art, or that you made Eagle Scout--too bad.  That was then, and this is now.  Save it for the interview.  I promise that if you went to 4-6 years of college, you're way more interesting now.
  3. Delete the "Objective" and the "Hobbies/Interests" from your resume.  Your objective is clear: you want the job I'm advertising on or the AIA job board.  If you want me to know how you're the right fit for the job I'm advertising, use your cover letter.  Hobbies and interests are superfluous for a resume and are taking up valuable space where I can find out about your recent work experience (architectural or not), your education, and your skills.
  4. Check your spelling and grammar.  This is a given.  You're about to go into a field where the big picture and the details are all important, so focus on both.  If you can't be bothered to spell correctly on your resume, I can't be bothered to look at it when I'm trying to hire someone.
  5. Think about your resume as a design problem...  In a sense, your resume is a design project that you won't be able to present to the jury.  It has to speak for itself.  All text and pictures have to read well in a variety of media-does it look good on any computer screen?  Does it print well in black and white as well as color?  Does it take special knowledge of Adobe Acrobat or some other graphics program to get it to print the way it should look?  How will it look on 8.5" x 11" paper instead of the cool format you made in InDesign?  Are the pictures and graphics big enough to read?  Is there enough white/negative space on the page so that your words and images can breathe?
  6. ...but don't overthink it.  Because your resume is a project that you can't present in person, we sometimes think that we really need to go all out and make it unbelievably amazing.  But look again at the questions in Rule #5: if you have a negative answer to any of those questions, then you may have overworked your resume.  Just as in a Studio project, you don't have to use all your good ideas in one resume.
Coming in the next few weeks--the triumphant return of Redlined Resumes!  For those of you new to Intern 101, I take resumes that have been sent to me for review and critique (with the person's permission, of course), I blank out identifying details and information, and I redline it.  I make notes on what's great, what works well, and what could be tweaked and improved.  Then, I post it here for everyone to learn from.  I've received a few resumes over the past year or so, and it's finally time to post them in their redlined glory.  If you'd like for me to include your resume in Redlined Resumes, feel free to email it to me via email in the sidebar.  Stay tuned!

1 comment:

  1. Cheers for #3! I go over a lot of friend's resumes and that's something I tell them to do, even though it makes most people uncomfortable to get rid of it for some reason.

    I'd also add to have someone fairly objective proofread and edit it when you're ready to show it to someone. Just because you think it's the best resume ever doesn't mean anyone can even read it (see #6), or that you included all your vital information.