resume

High-Impact Resume Strategies For Creative Professionals

iStockphoto.com |  scyther5

iStockphoto.com | scyther5

The most substantial asset graphic designers, art directors, interior designers, photographers, fine artists, marketers, and other creative professionals possess is their ability to translate a concept into an attractive visual presentation. It is both their tool and their trade.

When meeting with hiring managers or potential clients, creatives need to demonstrate their ideas and experience in a professional fashion.

The first piece of work such an applicant usually presents is their resume. A beautifully designed resume, with nice fonts, illustrations, layouts, and graphics can quickly demonstrate to a hiring manager at an advertising agency or within a corporate marketing department a candidate’s visual design and copy writing skills.

But, the realities of the corporate job application process get in the way. Companies often use applicant tracking systems (ATS) to gather and sort resumes, and on top of the challenges they present to every applicant, they can even more quickly derail applications for creative professionals.

Creative professionals tend to focus on form, building complex layouts in programs such as Adobe InDesign that incorporate graphic illustrations and other elements. Applicant tracking platforms, on the other hand, generally require a plain, simple design in order to parse resume data – this means a resume created in Microsoft Word, with a single column of text. These systems often disregard (or can’t read) anything presented in text boxes, graphics, or tables, and recruiters will generally pass over resumes that the system hasn’t been able to fully understand. A resume with a complex design will appear at the bottom of the applicant tracking system’s ranking of the applicants against the job description.

So, how can creative professionals increase their chances of securing an interview and, ultimately, the job?

  • Build an ATS-Friendly Version of Your Resume. In order to make it easier for the applicant tracking system to parse the data and, hopefully, give your resume a higher ranking, use a single-column format. Don’t include large tables or graphics, as these can make a resume hard to scan. Even if you follow these guidelines, there could still be issues parsing data – if so, try saving your resume as a .txt file and uploading that version. And use your ATS-friendly resume for all online applications.

  • Keep a Graphically-Designed Version of Your Resume Handy, Too. Yes, you’ll want to have two versions, because the hiring manager will use the designed version to evaluate your creative eye. If the applicant tracking system lets you upload attachments along with your resume, absolutely upload your graphically-designed resume, along with samples of your work. And print out copies of this resume to hand out during an interview.

  • Develop Your Portfolio and Put it Online. A nicely designed portfolio of your work is a fantastic way to highlight your skills and achievements. Create an online version with your best work samples, and include a URL link to your portfolio in the header of your resume. You can also post this in your LinkedIn profile for greater exposure.

  • Don’t Rely Solely on Your Online Application. There’s a lot you can do to get noticed. After applying online, try to identify the decision-maker for the position on LinkedIn. Then send him or her a brief note – via LinkedIn or through email – to inform them that you’ve applied online, and ask where you can send your resume and portfolio samples. A well-timed message can potentially improve your changes of being seen by the hiring manager, regardless of how the applicant tracking system scores your resume.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

Three Compelling Reasons To Keep Job Hunting During The Holidays

iStockphoto.com |  RyanJLane

iStockphoto.com | RyanJLane

It’s the holiday season, everyone’s taking their vacations, and companies just aren’t hiring. Time to forget about the job hunt until the new year, right?

Wrong!

It’s true, hiring does slow down between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. It’s also true that things come roaring back on January 2. But here are three compelling reasons to keep plowing ahead with the job hunt during the holidays.

  1. Those jobs are still posted online, right? You can still apply, which means they’re still looking to hire. The companies are still gathering resumes. And sometimes job postings have automatic expiration dates, and if you miss them then you lose your opportunity. Go ahead and apply.

  2. There are fewer people working at your target company, but the corporate recruiter might be one of them. The holiday season is catch-up time for HR. Most of the hiring managers are on vacation, so it’s an opportunity for recruiters to review applicants with less interruption. I can confidently state from my days in HR that the holidays were extremely productive for identifying and screening candidates, and preparing packets of resumes for the hiring managers to comb through when they return to work after New Year’s Day.

  3. There are fewer job applicants, too. Your competition is busy attending Christmas pageants and visiting the relatives in Minnesota, so they’re not applying to jobs at the moment. That means fewer applicants, and if the recruiter’s working, there’s a greater chance that the recruiter will take a look at your submission because the pile of resumes to review is more manageable.

Enjoy the holidays and the New Year!


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, career coaching services, and outplacement services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.

I Studied for a Professional Certification But Haven't Passed Yet... Should I Include It On My Resume?

iStockphoto.com |  Olivier Le Moal

iStockphoto.com | Olivier Le Moal

Certifications can be a big deal. There are certifications for technical folks, the bar exam for attorneys, boards for doctors, even the PHR (Professional in Human Resources) for HR professionals.

If you've studied for a test, and haven't yet passed, should you include the classes you took to study for the exam on your resume?

I consulted with an individual who recruits human resources professionals for global firms. Here’s what he had to say on the matter:

"People that show they went to an HR certification class on their resume but don't have a PHR…It tells me that in almost all cases they took the test and failed. Not so impressive and maybe not even worth listing if you analyze things the way I do."

It’s a judgment call, but it can make sense to include these classes on your resume. Let’s say you studied for a certification and are scheduled to take the exam in two months. Listing the course on your resume shows forward progress.

If, on the other hand, you studied for the exam years ago, and either did not take or pass the certification test, then it’s probably a good idea to leave it off.

Of course, there are exceptions. Let's say there's a job for a procurement specialist who reviews contracts. A law school graduate who didn’t take or pass the bar examination might still be a highly qualified fit for such a role. And the accountant who never attained the CPA may be able to perform many of the duties within an accounting department while continuing to prepare for the test.


Scott Singer is the President and Founder of Insider Career Strategies Resume Writing & Career Coaching, a firm dedicated to guiding job seekers and companies through the job search and hiring process. Insider Career Strategies provides resume writing, LinkedIn profile development, and career coaching services, including a free resume review. You can email Scott Singer at scott.singer@insidercs.com, or via the website, www.insidercareerstrategies.com.