Thursday, March 18, 2010

Redlined Resumes: a good example to start

Okay, time to start the cavalcade of redlined resumes. For starters, since I have a crappy version of Adobe here at home, 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.

(Also, I should note here that I'm only reviewing resumes for people in the architecture/landscape/interior design professions--if you are in any field but those, please do not send me a resume.)

Here's our first resume, a really good one from A.R. A.R.'s resume has a lot going for it. First, the formatting: despite all of her honors and activities, it's at one page. Second, she's using a good clear font and using font size as well as regular, bold, and italic type to set up and prioritize the information. The tinted rectangles that surround her section headings ("Education", "Skillset", etc.) further prioritize and organize the information.

The format of the text and info in the first entry under "Community" has a nice feel to it; the way the experience description flows after the location is almost newspaper-like. It can also save her a couple of lines if she starts to run out of room. Also useful is how certain items on the resume are in bold, such as certain awards, experiences, and her skillset. Bolding bits of content in your resume can make those items jump out at a potential interviewer.

Let's look at content for a bit. Bear in mind that A.R. only graduated from college a year ago, but this resume looks really impressive. She's included and summed up her work experience and included community and professional organization activities and honors. What's great about including this info is that it provides a fuller picture of this job applicant, and it does so in a way that is more professional and relevant than the old "Hobbies and Interests" section on 20th-century resumes. Not only does she tell someone what she's into in her free time (leading tutorials on rendering, raising recycling awareness, initiates a materials library), she provides personal information that can be used positively in a professional setting (wow, she can get stuff started and keep it going, lots of experience at working with others and keeping things organized). She's filled things about a bit with her Skillset section, which is a great place to show what she knows and how much she knows it. This section can be really important--remember, there are a lot of you out there right now looking for a small number of jobs, so if you're really good at certain types of software or languages or whatever, highlight them to set yourself apart from the pack.

Most of what I see in A.R.'s resume are words and phrases that could be nudged or changed a little bit as well as some grammar and punctuation changes. I also am not sure what a couple of the items were under Awards and Organizations, so if there's a way for A.R. to describe those a little more clearly, then more power to her.

A.R.'s resume was in black text with some red on it in a few places, but overall it's a simple document. Some of your friends or colleagues may have amazing documents that are feats of elegant graphic design, but don't let that give you stage fright when it comes to designing your own resume. Simple and straight-shooting can be just as effective as some graphic work--think of your resume as a design problem that may not best be solved with an actual drawing. now, if you put some graphic design work into your resume, don't sweat that either. Just make sure that whatever you're designing will read clearly if photocopied in black and white as well as in the color(s) you've printed and that the graphic work doesn't overwhelm (but rather support) the content.

Next post: another resume! In the meantime, 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!


  1. My comments are based on desperately squeezing in 15 years of various professional experience, so I'm always looking for more space while keeping clarity. Over time I've dropped many of the awards type things and am constantly questioning the relevancy and understanding to others of what I'm including. As Lulu, noted what is great to take from this, even for those with more experience, is the simplicity. I think you are off to a good start though that will serve you well.

    I particularly like the School, Professional, Skills, Community headings and that they are the first column. While this person is recently out of school, I'd still put that category last out of the four. Then, if they are specifically looking for a design job, I'd change the chronological order of the professional category and move the design internship up to the top. This way you clearly show that this is the design work I've done, the skills I have, the related community work, and where the education came from.

    Coming out of undergrad it's very natural to say look at all of the stuff I accomplished while there. You have to remember though that most people at a firm, particularly if they are not related to your college or in your area will have no idea what these are. So, as noted I'd clarify some of the awards. What did the KSA award entail was it a house, a skyscraper or a funky T-shirt? If you have a work sample of these awards, all the better. Phi Kapppa... means little to the average resume reader, leave it out and buy yourself space to clarify the industry specific awards. Again scholarships while hard earned and notable really don't clarify much. Unless it's something immediately recognizable to the industry(The Frank Lloyd Wright Scholarship for...), I'd simplify the titles and move them up to to the education section. That's not to diminish the accomplishment at all, it just buys you more space to say what the other awards are. Move the French award to italics or parenthesis under your fluency skill set. Again, more space in you awards section.

    Was the organization you were President/Elect for the same that you were Webmaster for? If not, what was that organization? If so, you've used dates like bullets throughout and the separate years seem to imply different groups. This all may be abundantly clear with color, but I'm looking at a scanned B&W (not at all uncommon for this to happen and for it to be marked up and passed on that way). Finally, make a few tweaks in your word wrapping. It reads awkward to have Outstanding on one line and Senior on the next. Same with GPA - move it next to your degrees, etc. In addition to reading more clearly it will buy you a little more space to expand on some of the other items.

    Nice start.

  2. Anonymous makes a good point--when we have little professional experience and lots of school experience, we tend to play up the school experience, and it's understandable and frankly expected. It may be more helpful in A.R.'s resume for her to drop an award or two and use the extra space to flesh out and detail more of what she did at here three jobs. And as Anon mentioned, better defining what the awards were for and what achieving them entailed will allow a potential employer to be properly impressed at what you had to do or how hard you had to work to earn it.

  3. Thank you both for your comments.

    I will work on rewording, as has been suggested, and adding more information about the awards: when you spend a few years at an institution, you forget that what seems 'well known' within the confines of your program might not be as known elsewhere!

    Thanks again!