Resumes: Make them reader-centric & creative. Please.

I’m a recruiter and I don’t take resumes too seriously.  Every bit of research available tells us that we can’t know a person without interacting, and resumes (at least for now) are decidedly NON-interactive. In tech and especially digital media industries in Southern California, resumes are starting to become an afterthought anyway. Everybody in digital media who is serious about staying there is committed to LinkedIn (useful post about that) and I rarely have to wait to see a person’s resume to get a sense of their professional experience. Nevertheless, my initial introduction of a candidate to a client company is almost always (the ‘almost’ being a significant nod to the expanding uses of social media) a resume.

As often as not, that resume is far less than it could be with just a little extra work. As a list-of-3 guy (5 max) here’s my list of ways to think while tightening up your bio:

  • What is the reader looking for?  Your mom, husband, and all your friends and family care about you. The person reading your resume cares about solving their own business problem. In time, if you land the gig, you’ll become a real person to that hiring manager…but not yet. I spend my time working with sales and marketing professionals, so this concept is important beyond the resume—understand your audience. This takes some work, but those handy computers connected to the InterTubes allow anyone who gives a…hoot…to do their homework. What is the business model? What kinds of people are hired? Any candidate worth his salt does this for the interview and you should tailor your resume also.
  • Get seriously in touch with the concept of controlling the metamessage.  What happens if you roll up to your red carpet event and hop out of your ’78 beater wearing sweats and flip flops? You’ll probably gain entry eventually, but those first words you say may not be taken too seriously.  The visual organization matters. If your pitch for yourself includes any of: creative, organized, efficient, good communicator, strategic, intelligent, etc, then the arrangement of your content matters. The actual professional experience should speak for itself? Maybe it should. Wanna argue with everybody reading your C.V.?
  • Do something a little different. Stop following every rule unless your profession is one that is strictly governed by traditions or things must be done a very specific way in your business. I play with salesters and marketers. If you’re following every single rule you’re told, you’re falling behind. Use logos, highlight certain sections. Leave the bland behind and emphasize what stuff matters more to you. Show your personality.  Of course, never leave rule #1 completely behind.