Recreate Your Resume: New Takes On an Old Favorite

Looking for a new job next year? If you’re updating your paper resume, you might like the graphical resumes presented at Fast Company this week.

Even if they’re not for you, the question sparked by these graphical resumes is: What are our options for resume-building in the twenty-tens? We all know a resume is supposed to show off our skills and experience, but in the digital age, there’s no end the ways you might communicate these things.

Let’s put some boundaries around this discussion, then: we’ll talk about paper resumes only. And we’ll assume that the company advertising the job wants to peruse your application letter and a short resume before they visit your site.

Let’s look first at a few of the more common resume tactics from the “naughties” (and earlier).

Where We’re Coming From

The most common, basic inclusions for a resume are:

  • contact details
  • employment history
  • education
  • achievements
  • referees

In addition to these details, resumes may include:

  • a list of relevant skills
  • an outline of extra-curricular or spare-time projects and interests
  • a career or life objective
  • a favorite or inspiring quote
  • a personal statement of your philosophy
  • a headshot

No we’ve covered the basics and we know where resumes have come from. But where are they going?

Where We’re Going

The graphical resume might be handy for those who are designers themselves, or have a designer on hand to tailor their resume to suit every job they apply for.

But what about you? There’s little point, for example, in me creating a graphical map of my experience, because my skills are neither figures- nor graphically-oriented. It would be cute, sure, but not particularly relevant.

The first rule of resume recreation should be: Let your resume reflect you.

If you love travel, or you’ve worked in a range of different locations, maybe you’ll create a visual resume using a map of the world. If you’re in tourism, or transport, you might consider a roadmap. If you’re in IT, what about a circuit board? If it’s business consulting or project management, can you use a process flow, Gantt chart or venn diagram as the basis for explaining what you do?

Conceptual Resumes for the Non-visual

If you’re not into a graphical representation, you may consider theming your resume document around your work.

The second rule of resume recreation should probably be: Try to avoid being dinky or cute. Keep it simple and respect your readership.

This second rule is a fine line to tread. Let’s look at a couple of possible examples and you can make up your own mind.

First up, a book editor might lightly theme their resume around the structure of a book, for example, describing their work history in “chapters”:

“Chapter 1, 2001-2003, in which I work for Publisher, LLC and learn the fine art of author management.”

The book editor could theme their entire resume in this way, using the parts of the book — dedication, contents, acknowledgments, introduction, chapters, references and further reading — to bring their goals, experience, education, skills, and referees together in a way that might appeal to prospective employers.

A journalistic photographer could present their resume in the style of a newspaper or magazine, with the articles — or simply captions — for each image identifying the photograph’s subject, the year it was taken and which publication it appeared in, the technical or practical challenges the photographer overcame, and the skills they used to produce each shot.

An event photographer might present their resume as an album, listing the project challenges, techniques and skills they used, and relevant referees underneath each image in the same shorthand way we annotate wedding or holiday photographs.

A PA could present their resume using diary format, making each item in their work history an “appointment”, listing their skills under a heading like “reminders”, including their career goal as a “to-do item”, and so on.

In each case, the theme I’ve suggested for the resume reflects something about the individual that’s integral to their success in the field.

For example, the PA could theme their resume around a document like a memo, or meeting minutes, if creating these tools would be part of the job they’re applying for. But the diary format suggests that the PA is focused on time and resource management, that the person gets things done, can juggle many tasks at once, and so on.

So the third rule of resume recreation should be: Choose a resume format that reflects a crucial quality you’ll need to succeed in the role you’re applying for.

Where to from Here?

Once you have your paper resume prepared, you can consider how to translate it to other media you might want to use.

Perhaps you’ll use it to build (or revamp) your web site as part of your larger social media resume. Perhaps, if you’re a creator of some kind, you’ll augment it with an online, physical or CD-based portfolio of work samples.

Have you used an alternative to the standard, old-school paper resume? Tell us what you did — and how it worked.