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Applying for Internships (Part 3): Designing a Single-Page Resume

PREVIOUS PART: Applying for Internships (Part 2): Auditing my Current Resume

In this part, I'm designing a single-page resume which will be the first item in my job application package.

So why am I designing a job application package? Isn't a resume and cover letter enough? A standard resume and cover letter is a good, proven format for informing employers of your unqiue skills and experiences. Still, every job application is unique. What I want to create is a pool of resources from which I can draw relavant pieces in order to quickly create a version of my resume that is tailored to each individual job posting. I want to be able to swap out or omit sections as desired based on the relevancy of their the content. This is beneficial because it shows employers that I'm not just blindly sending them a generic resume without reading their job posting. It shows that I have made a conscious effort to avoid sending them irrelavant information, and that I value the attention that they're giving to my resume.

When finished, my job application package will consist of the following components:

  • Cover Letter (unique to each job)
  • Single-Page Resume
  • Long-Form Resume
  • Case Studies
  • Origami Resume
  • Business Card
  • Video biography
  • Website

Laying these components out in a user flow diagram helps visualize how employers will experience the job application package from making the initial connection through to vaious endpoints. Enpoints for my job application package is any document which contains a call-to-action (CTA). CTAs allow employers to contact me directly through a form, email, social network, or phone call. So my intention is for every component to be an endpoint so an employer can contact me at any point in their journey through my application package.

Job Application Package user flow diagram.

The cover letter and single-page resume are the only two components that are absolutely neccesary for every job I'm applying for. Various sections of the long-form resume and individual case studies can be either included or omitted based on how relevant they are a particular job. Since the jobs I'm applying for all have online applications, I will be omiting the origami resume and the business card. The video biography is something that I'm considering but it probably won't be part of my job application package for a little while as it's going to take a lot more planning than time will permit. The website will be the last component I create and it will act as a digital aggregation of all components in the job application package.

I decided to start with the single-page resume because it is also sort of like a table of contents for the rest of the components I will be designing. So by designing this first, I can use it as an outline while designing the other components.

Design is Hard

I love design, but often I hate it too. When a design turns out well I'm on top of the world! But when I'm struggling with a design I become crippled with self-doubt and frustration. This is exactly what happened while designing this single-page resume. I restarted this design about three or four times before ending up with my final design.

Failed Resume Designs:

Failed Resume Designs

So what did I do wrong? Why did these designs turn out so horribly? Mindset. Everything in design is mindset.

Good design strives to be unnoticed.

I went into this design with the mindset that I was going to design the best resume I've ever had. I wanted to create something that was extremely unique, colourful, and showcased my design skills. That was the wrong mindset. I fell into the trap of over-designing. The failed designs were too boastful and they overshadowed the content. Good design strive to be unnoticed and puts content at the forefront of the user's attention.

Rethinking my Design Approach

I had to rethink my approach and that began with revisiting who my audience is: the employers.

"People ignore design that ignores people."

  • - Frank Chimero

This quote touches on a really important idea in design. Design must always consider the user first. Design must be selfless; it must serve the user and not itself; it must invoke an positive experience. As the designer, I need to develop empathy for the employers and design for them -- not myself.

What do employers care about?

Employers can primarily about the content of a resume. If the design is flashy, it might grab their attention, but in the wrong way. What failed in the first designs was that they were too busy. It was difficult to find information quickly. If an employer is trying to skim through several dozen resumes at a time, the design should be unique enough to grab attention, yet simple enough to be readable.

In what context will my resume be presented to employers?

It is likely that my resume will be viewed at the same time as several other resumes. So as mentioned, the design still must be unique in order to make a lasting impression.

The design should also be printer friendly (low amount of colour) in case an employer wants to print it. The design should avoid making the employer think twice about ink usage before printing my resume. This is a small thing, but I think it's important to make the design as accessible as possible.

So in short the design need to:

  1. Be unique
  2. Have a simple layout
  3. Be printer friendly

With these three constraints, I started the design once again. I kept it simple this time by using a standard resume layout, which will make the information much more readable enabling an effortless user experience.

I added uniqueness to the design through the use of colour and inner shadows on the headings. And the background is just slightly off-white which makes it printer friendly.

Before long the design was finished and the result was just what I wanted.

Final Resume Design

From creating this design I learned that empathy for your audience is essential to creating a good user experience. I also learned that it's easy to get stuck in a rut of over-designing. When a design isn't going well, taking a step back to look at the big picture can reveal a path to success.

What's Next?

Trello Board with Audit done.

With this component of the job application package complete, it should now be easier to design the other components following the same theme. In the next post I'll be designing the long-form resume which will elaborate on the individual parts of the single-page resume.

NEXT PART: Applying for Internships (Part 4): Designing a Long-Form

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