It can, in fact, have the opposite effect. In many large organizations, someone
in HR is often making a first pass among a large volume of candidates. A sloppy résu-
mé will give that person an excuse to toss you into the circular file without anyone
ever seeing your portfolio. Later, it can be the tipping point when a company is hav-
ing a tough time choosing among a short list of candidates.
The best advice anyone can give you about writing a résumé is: Keep it clean,
visually and verbally. Then make sure that it contains no errors. Use a spell checker
every time you edit it. Get other people to read it—the more eyes, the better.
Clean also means spare. Few résumés need to be longer than one page, even
if your career spans decades. Older experience tends to become less relevant as time
passes and can be cut or radically condensed. Education is an example. It's important
when you've just graduated, but after you've had even one job in the real world, your
academic history or honors usually belong at the bottom of the page. By the time
you're heading for your second job, details like your grade point average should
Another “delete me” is the Objective that management gurus tell you to
put at the top of your résumé. The only time it might be useful is if you've had an
unusual career. When you've done a variety of work that you need to tie together or
you're making a radical change (from exhibit designer to interactive designer, for
example), an objective can help you explain the transition: “My objective is to lever-
age my experience with wayfinding in physical space to designing for the virtual
Brevity is a creative blessing. Text-heavy résumés written by and for creatives
simply don't get read. No paragraph should be longer than four sentences, and no sen-
tence should run longer than four lines, assuming about 30 picas a line and 10-point
type. Shorter is even better. Stick to your responsibilities, range of work, and most
significant accomplishments. Or simply take a sentence to explain what you did and
then list the clients you did it for. You can always elaborate in person.
A résumé is best written and designed to be printed and read offline. That
means it should not include anything that will slow the download and tempt someone
to break the connection. No placed art of any kind. And use your name as the file
title, not “résumé.” How will anyone remember whom your PDF belongs to otherwise?
People don't need your full story on a portfolio site. A good compromise is a
note that describes your experience and expertise. An online bio, like most web text,
should be as short as you can make it while still hitting what you feel are your most
important points. If you are looking for clients instead of employment, your bio
should emphasize your capabilities or the type of work you do.
A text introduction on your splash page is not a résumé replacement, nor
should it be deeply personal. It's a centering device to give a reader a way to look at