Recently a family member of mine needed some help with her resume and that got me thinking of some principles to a good resume. While I'm no expert I have gotten professional help in college with my resume / portfolio through a college business class. I wanted to share what I learned in that class with some quick bullet points. Take everything with a grain of salt though, as the most important thing is to be yourself with how you present yourself. And some if not most of this may be common knowledge to you already so take no offence, this list is as much for me (to retain knowledge) as it is for you.
Okay so let's begin!
STEVEN'S RESUME COMMANDMENTS
- Your resume should be able to be scanned within 6-10 seconds (no fancy formatting or artsy stuff, keep it clean and as readable as possible for their software). Any employer worth their salt in a competitive field get dozens of resumes like yours per day. They spend on average less than 10 seconds to make a decision. That decision is spending more than 10 seconds with your resume + portfolio and scheduling an interview or tossing it in the reject pile.
- Your resume is there to make a good first impression and get your foot in the door, not get you a job.
- Your resume should only be 1 page long and include only applicable work experience, nobody cares where you went to high school, your past retail/service job, etc... the experience must be relevant!
- Are you a generalist? Consider tailoring your portfolio to fit the job title and description of what you're applying to. Make the hiring person's job easy. It's okay to have multiple different resumes/portfolios.
- Know the difference between a resume and a portfolio. A resume is just plain text overview of your work + accolades, skills (hard & soft skills), and education (should be no more than one sentence; it's not important).
- The format of a resume should go as follows: Title of Position + Employer, Your responsibilities (what you've done, QUANTIFY IT AND MAKE IT SOUND IMPRESSIVE, START WITH ACTION VERBS)
- Rule of thumb for acronyms and abbreviations. You can use them to display your knowledge of your field's lingo (if it's common knowledge) but if it's a proper noun that's not famous then you should include the full title.
- ANY SPELLING OR GRAMMATICAL ERRORS WILL RUIN YOUR RESUME. It doesn't matter how good the content is on your resume, if the viewer sees any errors in your resume it'll come off as you didn't put much thought or effort into your resume and they'll assume that to carry over to the rest of your work. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT!!!
- NEVER! AND I MEAN NEVER! Do that thing (that some people do) where you quantify how well you know a skill with a percentage! "Proficient, Good, Okay" Never use these words to describe how good you are at something. Just say you know it if you know it or don't include it at all.
- Your selfie doesn't belong on your resume. Period. No photos or images.
- Only include relevant contact information. Your name, Your site, email, and a Linked In if you have one). Phone number is an iffy.
- "References upon request" - well duh, that's a given. Goes without saying so don't say it. If they want to contact references they'll either ask you for a reference or contact one of the employers listed on your portfolio independently.
STEVEN'S PORTFOLIO COMMANDMENTS
- Put your best work forward. Your portfolio is only as strong as the weakest work on it.
- Make it readable, but also pretty. This is where you can show off your graphic design and art skills if you so chose.
- Your portfolio doesn't need to be a certain length. It can be multiple pages long. I'd still recommend keeping it as short and impressive as possible though. Quality > Quantity
- Less rules here, because this is where you get to showcase you.
ON COVER LETTERS
- They're not necessary 100% of the time. Just make sure they're short (they're gonna be skimmed in less than 6 seconds) and to the point and speak to you as a person (dedicated, motivated, detail oriented, loyal, etc...). If they aren't gleaming portrayals of you then don't include them.
Phew! So that was a lot. I hope this was helpful. These tips are geared towards creative industry jobs such as (graphic design, art, programming, design, producer, etc...) and there's no one right way to do your resume. However, these tips come from people who look at resumes all day and from people who have landed really good jobs at places like Disney, EA, etc..
You need an angle, you need a hook, you are a product and your resume is the advertisement.