We love to think of our creative work as the thing that represents us—that defines and demonstrates our abilities. And while portfolios are a great place for clients to get a taste of the great things you can do—the resume is what makes the first impression. And despite whether or not it’s accurate, it can be lasting. Here at Creative Circle, we do our best to ensure we give the most honest feedback possible with regards to resumes: what were our impressions, what stood out, what turned us off from moving forward with a conversation?
Here are some things we’ve noticed on our end and heard from clients to keep in mind when editing your resume.
1. Looks Matter
Whether or not you’re a designer, what your resume looks like matters. Studies show that on average, only a matter of seconds are spent looking at resumes—not minutes. Seconds! Much like books can be (unfortunately) judged by their covers, so too can you on the layout and design of your resume. Keep in mind how it appears to a pair of fresh eyes. Is your experience too closely together on the page? Are things aligned correctly and consistently? Is the font too tiny to read without a magnifying glass? Is it more than one page? Is it too plain to stand out among others?
Keep this perspective in mind when working on your resume. Our team can give great further insight into resume design elements, too.
2. Bullets vs. Summaries
When describing your work experience under a Company heading, there are a couple schools of thought when it comes to bullets vs. summaries. While a summary up top of the resume may be a good idea if you’ve had varying experience in multiple fields, there seems to be a consensus that bullet points are the way to go when listing past responsibilities.
Why is that? It’s simply because—they’re simpler! Keep your responsibilities listed in bullets and do your best to make the number of bullets consistent throughout. Remember, you’re giving a snapshot, not writing your college thesis (and thank goodness for that)!
Tip: Be aware of which words you’re using. Don’t just explain what you did, but do your best to use buzz words pertaining to industry or your skill set that will resonate with your target readers (future employers).
One of the most important things you can make sure your resume is, beyond pleasing to the eye, is consistent. If you use periods in your bullet points, use periods for every single one; if you use italics to list your job title at one company, do it for every job title at a company; if you use the month and year to mark your start and end at one position, use this date format for all positions; if you use a serial comma to list things under one job, use the serial comma when listing things throughout.
These may seem like small, trivial details, but we’ve found that overall, they speak to your attention to detail and consistency shows you’re motivated!
4. Add a Personal Touch
Often times, the resumes that stick out are often those which have personal touches that set them apart. Whether it’s a sense of design or diction, make an effort to make your resume unique to you. For example, one copywriting candidate made an effort to express unique details about his experience working at a company in the beauty industry by indicating he finally learned the difference between lip gloss and lipstick. Other design candidates we’ve met make an effort to use their experience with color or typography on their resume to make them truly beautiful.
Even if you don’t have a design background, there are many options available for you—you just have to get creative.
In the end, something that’s most important about a resume is that it is a snapshot of you, your past experiences, and the possibilities you’re able to offer to whoever is reading it. We know you have a lot to offer so have fun when you’re creating your resume—make it visually pleasing, consistent in style and punctuation, and unique, and you’re sure to catch someone’s interest.
Allison is a former Creative Circle Account Executive, with a background in creative writing, content writing/strategy, publishing, and business development. Her world revolves around words and the relationships and interactions they inspire. Allison is now the Content Specialist at Raizlabs, a design and development firm in Boston and San Francisco.