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What I want to see in a resume

Tomorrow I’m speaking at the IA Roundup – Panel and Workshop on IA Resumes. Olga approached me to participate asking what challenges I’d come across in finding the right information architects for my team. The challenges were many, but poor resumes (poor quality, not lousy professionals) certainly makes my life harder than it needs to be. This is what I want to convey tomorrow:

How to get a job

  • Have a sense of purpose
  • Have a truthful resume that promotes you
  • Have a portfolio (online preferably)
  • Build professional networks

Three words about hiring designers

How to write a resume

  • Use a plain, 10 point Serif font.
    Resist the urge to design your resume.
  • Name, address, phone, personal email, portfolio and URL.
    Centered and bold at the top.
  • Write up your job history, presented in reverse chronological order.
  • Each job has Start-End Dates, Your Title, Company Name and Location.
  • Follow with 2-3 sentences describing responsibilities.

    Answer the question, What job did you have? For example, “Responsible for conducting user research for e-commerce and financial clients”, “Responsible for managing team of 27 information architects and researchers across 3 satellite offices in Mumbai, New York and Sidney, as well as coordination of $1MM research budget for remote and in person usability testing”.

  • After responsibilities, list your major accomplishments using bullet points.

    Answer the question, How well did you do your job? This describes how well you fulfilled the responsibilities you spoke of before. Example: “Drove satisfaction metrics up 10% over redesign goal by utilizing a fast iterative approach to collaboration with developers”, “Nominated for the IA Institute board of directors by my boss for my leadership and community commitment”, “Nominated most valuable contributor across design teams worldwide in ’04-’06″, “Improved efficiency by creating reusable patterns with Visio stencils and training all IAs across the organization to use them”.

  • Lastly, two lines for your education. Degree, Year and Institution

Note: A GREAT resume is one-page long.
Here is a template I put together (Word document).

Tips on what to include in the responsibilities:

  • How large was the audience for the work you did – hints to the kind of impact you can make and how comfortable you are working with large scale initiatives
  • How large was the group you worked with – hints to the types of interactions and demands you are subject to depending on size of team
  • How large was your client (for consultants), employer (for in-house employees) Example: “Fortune 50”, “$200MM annual revenue” – hints to the level of business challenges you’re exposed to and the risks you were subject to while working with them

Tips on what to include in your accomplishments:

  • Activities that resulted in cost saving and efficiency gains (better performance, less people/hours on projects, etc)
  • Activities that resulted in increased value (explicit satisfaction score gains, increased revenue and profit margins, etc)
  • Company and industry recognition (awards, nominations, remarks from annual reviews, etc)

Anything else you may want to promote about yourself goes in the portfolio. Anything else you may want to say about what you want and expectations for future jobs goes in your cover letter.

Interviewing to get the job

  • Ask Name and title (responsibility) of the people who will interview you
  • Google their names and learn about them before the interview
  • Learn about the company and their current situation before the interview
  • Dress professionally
  • Be on time
  • Bring your portfolio (preferably printed).
  • Prepare questions about the things that are important to you in working day-to-day (you should be interested in the company and work dynamics)
  • Be honest
  • You’d think that dressing professionally, being on time and being honest were obvious. You are right, they are. But it’s because we don’t re-state the obvious assumptions that people forget them and then I’m faced with a guy in flip-flops telling me some story about being late to the interview.

Telling a compelling story

When I return from the panel and workshop I will elaborate a little more on some of the points.


I think therefore IA (Livia Labate) » IA Roundup - Panel and Workshop on IA Resumes said,

April 21, 2007 @ 4:31 pm

[...] UPDATE: The panel and workshop went great – here’s what I talked about. [...]

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