Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Redlined Resumes: fun with formatting or, "please touch!"

Ah, yes, another resume! Same rules as last time: I've printed the resumes and hand-marked them in red. I've scanned all the documents in black and white for a two reasons: one, you can see my red marks better on a black-and-white page; and two, your beautiful color resume may end up getting printed by someone with a crappy, B&W-only printer (I know, you'd think everyone's caught up by now) or faxed (and fax machines generally only print in B&W--horrors!) I've marked out names and addresses as well as places you've worked, but I left schools in. To read the JPGs of the resumes, double-click on them and they'll open in a separate window at a larger size.

Today's resume come from C.K., who's graduating in June but has a job lined up right after graduation--rock on! That's very good news, especially in this economy. I presume that this resume got C.K. a job, so it's entirely possible that all my notes and comments are moot, but that's never stopped me from opening my mouth before.

C.K.'s resume is a pretty gutsy one--it's a double-sided all-color image, 6" x 10" in its folded form, and only for hard copy mailing. C.K. emailed me that his goal is to get in at a design firm, not just an architecture firm, so his goal is to use this as a type of teaser document. What I'm showing in the images here is the front and back of C.K.'s CV document. What I love about this is that it's got a lot of creativity in it, and if you're a design firm looking for someone who's got a little edge to them, then this will definitely catch their eye. I also love that the Point of Contact, shown on the inside/information side, is the first thing you see. It must be first or last and really set apart so that an interested party can see how to find you. Also, C.K.'s format doesn't make the reader work hard to understand what he's about--here's my schooling, my work experience, and my skills. Buh-BAM! The font is clear, and there's breathing room in between the different sections. In these sections, I've advised him to make his sentences a little shorter, such as under the "D____ Group" work experience. I also mention under the "Z____ Group" work experience that he consider his choice of words: did he compose or produce the schematic drawings? Compose sounds like he placed images on sheets or boards; produced sounds like he did the drawings and put them on sheets or boards. And like some of the other resumes we've covered here, I suggested that he mention whether he's familiar or proficient in the various software types that he's listed. I also suggest mentioning the total number of hours required for IDP when he talks about how far along he is--remember that many of the people doing the interviewing didn't have IDP and don't know a whole lot about it. Therefore, giving them the total ("I have 2800 out of 5600 hours completed") tells them how far along and how awesome you are.

I recommend eliminating the "Objective" and "Personal Interests" sections. You can discuss personal interests in the interview--let that be a delightful surprise that they get to discover when you walk through the door, otherwise you run the risk of sounding like an internet blind date. Also, bear in mind that C.K.'s resume clearly shows that he's still an intern and he's about to graduate or just graduated from college--his objective is ultimately to find a job that allows him to get his hours and take and pass the ARE. He can use the interview to find out more about the firm and see if it's a good fit for him (and he for them). If this were ten years ago when firms couldn't find enough interns to do the work and everyone was hiring like crazy, I might recommend keeping in something about looking for a design-focused firm. But right now, being too selective means that he could talk himself out of a pretty good job that could be a great learning experience as well. I also have to say that including the word "fun" in an Objective could be the kiss of death for a lot of firms--there is a generation bias against interns in some circles already, as some see interns as a bunch of darn kids who feel entitled and don't care and blah blah blah and get off my lawn! Hence, including the word "fun" (even if it's true and it should be a part of your work day) might knock you out of the running for a firm that may have been a great fit and actually would be fun to work in.

The other part that would concern me as a potential employer is the relevant experience part. I love the fact that this is included, as it's a good snapshot of all the other things C.K. can do. However, "Architectural Project Research" is a bit broad--did this involve product research? Code research and studies? Zoning board involvement? Defining this a little more gives me a good idea of what C.K. has been doing. Also, the part that says "Project Management Experience" throws up a flag--interns generally don't manage projects, and C.K.'s above-described activities at the two firms doesn't necessarily indicate project management tasks. Again, a further explanation of what he means is in order here ("Conducted user group/client meetings"? Coordinated with contractor and consultants on 50,000 sf project"?), lest someone think he's padding his resume.

In addition to the mailable resume, I would also encourage C.K. to produce a matching document that reads and prints well as an 8.5"x11" PDF in black & white and color. If a really good firm requires that he submit he resume electronically, his excellent graphic design skills will work in his favor, and he can blow a firm away in two formats--well done!

If you have an architectural/design profession resume that you'd like for me to review and post on the blog, or any question or topic you'd like to see covered here, feel free to mention it in the comments or email me at the address in the sidebar. Thanks!

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