I have seen many resumes in my career ranging from flawless to fatally faulty. I have worked with students to build some of their first resumes, and reviewed well written professional ones submitted to me for employment. I have also spent the last 3 years sifting through many hundreds of resumes online seeking the right candidates for various employers. Through all of that experience I have learned quite a bit about what employers are looking for, and I wish to pass some of that knowledge on to you today.
During my time as the Dean of Education of a cosmetology school, I was responsible for hiring instructors. I filtered though resumes, and interviewed many candidates, but I will always remember the hiring of a particular instructor specifically due to their resume. It was visually striking, it drew attention to all the vital areas, had all the right buzz words, and was printed on such quality paper that it felt premium in the hands. It started a great conversation and ultimately led to their employment. Was the resume the only thing that got them hired? Certainly not, but it was what made them memorable and allowed them to stand out in the pool of other applicants. However, had their resume been mediocre or unprofessional, I am positive they would not have gotten the job.
The importance of visuals and first impressions
I have come to realize that resumes were our societies first attempt at social media pages. We should treat them accordingly. When you think of a great Instagram page, what do you think of? It is visually appealing and cohesive, it has its intent clearly stated, and most importantly, it is memorable. All of those aspects are qualities that a resume must have as well. They serve an important purpose that I don't see going away any time soon, as long as we can adapt them to modern times and we will touch on how to do that later in the post.
First things first, when preparing a remarkable resume consider who will be reviewing it and what job you are applying for. Once they see your resume they cant "unsee" it. You must be sure that once they see it, they will want to read it as well. I have taken one look at a resume and thrown it right in the trash. You do not want to be that person. Reasons I have instantly tossed a resume is almost always a visual flaw. An example of this would be if I picked up a resume and saw that it was all a mess of words and bullet points with no clear division and categorizing. My advice is to follow and consider these simple yet vital aspects when it comes to the visuals of your resume, and its potential first impressions:
Be creative and interesting-You are a member of the Creative Service Industry! Don't forget to use that creativity when polishing up your resume. Use your specific field as inspiration for fun visuals you can add in and use color schemes to set a certain mood.
Attract the reader's eyes to focal points-Bolding specific areas of your resume to draw in your reader's eyes is important in a resume. Main categories, names of businesses, education providers, and former job titles should all be either bold or set apart in a way to draw attention to them as they are things all employers look for.
It should be visually easy to navigate-Continuing the point from above, you should do everything you can to ensure your resume is easy to navigate, and important information is clearly organized and categorized. If I am looking for your most recent employer I should be able to find it in a category titled "work history" or "employment history". Your resume should also be one page. Most employers have limited time to review resumes and if yours is longer than one page, expect them to either stop reading after the first page, or they will just toss it out.
Should not be too "noisy"-If you have let the creative juices flow and you have created a work of art out of your resume, be sure it's not too much. Yes we are creative, and yes we need to be unique, but remember that a lot of the time the person doing the hiring may not be a Creative professional. Even if the person hiring you is a fellow stylist, barber, esthetician, manicurist, or tattoo artist, they may not appreciate your specific taste for artistic clutter. Keep it fun but light, keep it colorful but not blinding, ensure your personality comes out but doesn't scare anyone.
Nuts and bolts
You've heard the phrase, "it's what's inside that counts" well, that is true with your resume as well. The visual aspects of your resume gets you noticed, the context of your resume is what will get you hired. What a hiring manager is looking for will differ from place to place and position to position, but all are looking for a few fundamental things. Here are the areas of focus and items to be sure to include:
Mission statement-My favorite place to start on a resume is with the mission statement. It paints a clear picture of what to expect from the person who wrote it. You can tell when it's genuine and when its fake. Keep all this in mind when you write your statement. It should be short and to the point. Limit it to one to two sentences and it should say what you have to offer to whomever is reading it, as well as clearly state your goals.
Education-For us in the Creative Service Industry this category is particularly important. We will not be showing off the fancy colleges we attended but we will show that we have an interest in continuing education, and care about keeping up with the ever changing industry we belong to. This can be your time to shine if you have limited work history so include as much here as you can. The school you went to for your craft should be listed first, and then all relevant continuing education classes, and/or employer provided trainings.
Licensing information-This should go without saying, but be sure to include your licensing information. Most employers like to be able to verify that you are truly licensed before reaching out to you. Some states also allow people to see if you have had any formal complaints against you.
Work history-Relevant work history paints a clear picture to employers. It allows them to see if you have the needed experience and skills to do the job. If you are new to your field and do not have specific work experience yet, be sure to list your time in school as experience since all of our trades require hands on training. That counts as experience! Also seeing your job history allows employers to see how committed you are to staying in one place and if you are one who likes to move around a lot.
Buzzwords- Professional buzz words are words that are popular and that draw attention to particular relevant topics. These types of terms should be included in your resume. Examples of professional buzzwords in our industry are; customer service, willingness to learn/grow, growth, advancement, patience, care and attention to detail, consultations skills, listening, and any services specific to your field.
Anything additional that you choose to include needs to be relevant and must contribute to the overall message you want to send. As an example volunteer work may be something that you want to include if the type of work is related to the job you are seeking. If it is not relevant don't include it. As mentioned above you want to keep it all to one page, so be selective about what makes the final cut of your resume.
Knowing what to include in your resume is obviously important, however it is equally important to know what not to include. Here are a few things to be sure to leave out:
Cover letter-Don't get me wrong, a great cover letter can be a wonderful way to portray your professionalism and state your goals, however I believe that in most cases it is not necessary for our field. I have seen more long winded, unnecessary, poorly written cove letters that have achieved the opposite affect the writer was going for, than I have seen great ones. If you choose to include it, make it count!
References-References in our field are extremely important, whether it is a long time client singing our praises, or a coworker corroborating our story, we need them. References are typically not included but stated on your resume that they "are available upon request". This will save you the space you need to keep your resume a single page, and also sends the message that you are prepared to present them when needed.
Personal information-Do not include on an application, resume, or any other form you hand someone any personal information they do not need. This includes your Social Security Number, address, and medical information. Other items to leave off is opinions, political affiliations, and religious material.
Nonrelevant information-If you wouldn't want to read it about someone else, don't include it. Also, there is no need to include every single job you have ever had, even if they are all related. Limit work history to the last 3-5 employers.
Paper vs. electronic
When it comes to submitting your resume you will more than likely do so electronically these days, however it is always a good idea to bring a physical copy with you when you go in for your interview. Having something physical to hand your potential employer is a great way to set yourself apart. It can be your resume or your portfolio. If you choose to be environmentally friendly, and choose not to use paper and print things, there are options for you as well which we will discuss.
Now that you understand that having both options available is important, lets dive a little deeper in the debate between paper and electronic resumes. I feel that we are between the old and new world in this area, but I am a huge advocate of assisting with advancing our society towards embracing the technology we have at our fingertips. I would love to see a day where paper resumes (amongst other things) have been fully retired. The reason I believe we should continue to move in that direction, and that us Creatives need to embrace it more is there are so many great features and freedoms we have with an all electronic resume. Here are some of the great perks:
Links within your document-You can include links to an online portfolio, professional website, contact information for previous employers, and limitless other things that may come in handy. Get creative with it, it will help you stand out.
More creative options-Not having to worry about the type of paper that you can get your hands on, wasting precious and expensive color ink, and how many copies you need to have is a wonderful thing for Creatives. Once you are free from that you can make your resume stand out and make some non-traditional design choices that may give you the edge over a fellow applicant. Including a tasteful GIF of a pair of shears opening and closing, or a pair of clippers buzzing can add a little personal flair.
Make changes as you need to-Probably the best feature of having an electronic resume would be you can make changes to it at any time and you wont have to worry about reprinting it, or worrying if you handed someone the most recent copy. It becomes a living document that grows and evolves with you.
If you choose to go the electronic rout, remember to still have a nice, clean printed version at your disposal for those employers that request it, and for those situations where it would be more appreciated.
One of my favorite ways to embrace our technology is QR Codes. You can literally link to anything, and just about every phone and tablet has the ability to read them built in. If they don't then there are countless apps out there that can be easily and quickly downloaded. My recommendation is to print yourself out a sheet with a few QR Codes that you have created (link to the app I use to create them at the end of this post) and be sure to get it laminated to ensure its longevity. They should all link to something that you would have normally had to print, such as:
Your online portfolio (professional social media page)
Once you have this sheet to take with you, you will never have to print again. When you make updates to your resume you wont have to print a new set of copies, your QR Code will still link to your live document that is saved to the cloud.
"All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work." - Calvin Coolidge
A common theme you will find throughout my writing is that you have to work hard to achieve what you want. The harder you work and the more dedicated you are, the better the results you will see. I am confident in you and your abilities, even though you may not be in a place in your life to be confident in yourself. The reason that I can have confidence in you and not know you, is if you are reading this post then you are actively seeking additional knowledge, and trying to improve yourself as a Creative, and as a professional. The other reason I can say with confidence that I believe in you is I know that greatness is achievable and the road to that success is paved with your drive and dedication.
What I'm about to say may not be easy but I challenge you to give it a shot. Scrap your current resume and start from scratch! Take the advice that I have presented to you here in this post and apply it to a new, fresh, creative resume that will get you noticed. If you are satisfied with your resume and have found that it doesn't need to be redone, then I challenge you to embrace a more electronic focus.
The options are limitless and with a little of your unique creativity you can make a REMARKABLE RESUME!!!
QR Code Generator App-Android
Do you need assistance with your resume?
Working Knowledge offers job placement services that include:
Resume polishing-we will work with you to perfect your resume, or completely redo it for you!
Interview coaching-we will set up coaching sessions to get you ready for any job interview, as well as coach you for interviews with specific employers.
Job placement-we will work for you to find you the right salon, spa, or shop to either start or continue your career!
Oh, did I mention that our job placement services ARE FOR LIFE!