The Resume Box

by Rich DeMatteo on April 2, 2010 · 15 comments

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This is a guest post from Eric Leist, a Public Relations major in Boston University’s class of 2010. Eric blogs over at Meghan Biro’s firm Talent Culture and on his own blog, EricLeist.com.  You can also find him on Twitter @EricLeist.



Eric Leist guest post

See this box? Get in it. It might be a little cramped in there. Oh, and there’re thousands of other people in the box too. But don’t worry. There’s room for you. Go ahead. Squeeze in. You want a job, don’t you? You want a strong personal brand? Then just get in the box.

That’s what I hear whenever I attend a resume workshop. And let me tell you, as a college student, I’ve attended a lot of them.

The fundamental issue I have with resume workshops is that they assume everyone is the same.  Then, they suggest different methods based on the workshop leader’s personal preferences. That leads me to believe that hiring professionals all have different personal preferences too! This conundrum leads me to one conclusion: There is no way to write a resume that fits everyone’s likes and dislikes.

So whose preferences should your resume reflect? The jobseeker’s. Too often, job hunters fall into the trap of squeezing their experience into a standard format. As a result, everyone ends up looking the same.

I’ve seen great paper resumes that use color, cool video resumes, and smart narrative slideshow resumes. They all work for the individuals they represent.

Resumes don’t have to be any particular style. I’m not suggesting anything too crazy, but I think resumes have basic requirements rather than mandatory formats.

1) A resume should be easy to follow with a logical organization.

2) It should reflect personality and experience.

3) It should have a consistent, unified look and feel.

Sure there are ways to stand out with standard resume templates. Sure the standard templates work for most people—that’s how they became standard. But in this economy, a jobseeker’s goal is to give potential employers a reason to set his or her resume aside from the towering pile of others. They might want to think about breaking out of the box to achieve that goal.

PHOTO: http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldofoddy/1439796614/

Let Eric know what you think about his guest post!  Have you had the same experiences at resume work shops?

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12 comments
Eric Leist
Eric Leist

Go for it, Kate. I'd say don't get wrapped up on the mixed reviews. Results matter most.

Kate
Kate

This is a problem I've run into as well. I want my resume to reflect my personality and skills, and I've done that by incorporating my personal brand, color scheme, and an excerpt from my personal code of ethics (those are important too!). I've gotten mixed reviews on my resume but I haven't changed it too much because it tells more about me than just what the words say. I agree with you, resumes don't have to be boring, ugly and plain. Why cant they have color? Why can't they have a graphic or two?? I say--they can. Making yourself stand out works.

Jen
Jen

I'm so frustrated with my resume right now, that I think I might just throw it in the trash and show up at the office of the hiring manager and just sit down and start telling them why they need me! I'm not exaggerating. Every time I read an article some headhunter is saying they throw away the majority of the resumes that come across their desk after reading one or two lines. I don't really know what to do differently, I have so many different styles of resume, but you are totally right, how am I supposed to know what the hiring manager (or the gatekeeper for that matter) is looking for? I'm definitely not a mindreader (but you have training for it, I'm a quick learner :) ) One point I would like to make. I live in a very small town and some of the businesses here are not very hip and don't respond to some of the newer resume styles being used by new grads. Don't get discouraged, but don't put all of your effort into your resume either. Most of the jobs I've gotten in the past few years have been based on who I know, not on my resume.

AJ Kulatunga
AJ Kulatunga

Hey Rich/Eric, great post here and totally agree with having the basics but leaving the creative style of the resume up to individual personality. These days it's all about standing out from the crowd and your method helps achieve that...a bit like opening up the lid of your box, taking a look inside and then doing your own thing instead of getting inside. Dream, Build, Inspire, Lead! AJ~

David Spinks
David Spinks

I always found it ironic when I would walk into my career services office at school and the first thing I'd see is a sign that says "No Templates". I would then sit down with a counselor, as they methodically went through my resume, fixing adjectives, reorganizing, and "optimizing it". They'd hand it back to be with 100 red marks on it, I'd make all the changes... My resume looked the same as every other person who came out of that office. The format might not have been a template, but the wording and structure made me stand out about as much as a hippy at a Phish concert. ...this was before I realized how useless resumes were altogether as an opportunity generator. David, Scribnia.com

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Kate - watch out for big companies that use ATS (applicant tracking systems). Sometimes, an image may obstruct the system from viewing it clearer, and your resume gets trashed automatically. Your personality should come through in text, not through pictures. Save your personality for networking, phone screens, and in person interviews.

Eric Leist
Eric Leist

There's a statistic I keep hearing and it's something like 70% of hires that occurred in 2009 came through a network; not through a cold resume mailing. For a small town, I imagine that effect is amplified. Good point.

Eric Leist
Eric Leist

People definitely lose site of what's important in a resume when they think too much about the templates. Thanks for the comment. Nice analogy.

Eric Leist
Eric Leist

Thanks for the comment, David. I'm in college now, and I definitely see the same thing happening. Resume workshops or 1-on-1 sessions have become too much like assembly lines.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

Hey Jen - don't get frustrated - keep at it. Have you used networking at all? Eric makes a good point. Networking and building contacts will bring the position to you.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

I think it has always been about standing out from the crowd, but definitely more so now. A resume needs to be easy to read, and bring quick information. That's my stand point on resumes. Thanks for the comment.

Rich DeMatteo
Rich DeMatteo

As someone who has viewed hundreds of resumes per week as a recruiter, I can assure you Spinks, that resumes can help people stand out if they are done correctly. I'm no Resume fan, but they aren't completely worthless. While everyone is switching to social media, some people will be left behind, which is unfortunate. Resumes are certainly poor opportunity generators, but they are still critical to the process and for many many people do get them the job. Networking is more likely to get you the job, but resumes are still important and will be for at least the next 5 years.