Resume Upgrade

Resume Upgrade

After six long, beautiful years of living and working in Congo, my husband and I decided it was time for a change. We decided to put ourselves out on the market and look for new jobs in a different international setting. It’s a very frightening and difficult thing to say the least, and I honestly do not know how some people commit to making big changes like this every couple of years.

Planning for this move meant getting our resumes up to date.  I used a template I purchased online and set mine up to post. It’s pretty plain and boring… nothing outside of the norm for a resume really, and it is two pages.

After looking at Sonya terBorg’s resume that she redid during COETAIL, I was inspired to redo mine as well and to use it as the basis for a blog/website I’m also planning to set up for myself in the near future (although with a new baby… my idea of “near future” is turning into a much more spread out time period).

Her resume is – and looks – awesome; she recently updated here. it’s really hard not to want to just copy the template idea and fill in my own personal information.  Seeing hers stumped my creativity a bit in that way. (Does that ever happen to you? I try to toe the line with showing specific examples in class because I know this happens to my students as well!)

I did watch Simon Sinek’s TED talk on starting with why that Sonya recommended and loved that concept so I did incorporate that into my final, like she did.

YouTube Preview Image

To avoid copying her template completely, I decided to do a quick Google Image search of “creative resumes.”  Do you know what I found (besides a ton of awesome looking resumes)? I discovered that most creative resumes are those done by Graphic Designers/Artists.

Look at these Google Search photos:

Resume Image Search

Creative Resume Image Search

See the difference? It’s very evident in the colors and pictures.

For obvious reasons, graphic designers need their resumes to stick out and to show a little of what they can do, but are they the only professionals who are allowed to have creative looking resumes? In my opinion, I think not.

In her post on creating her resume, Sonya terBorg mentions feeling unsure of whether the new resume looks professional enough. I understand why she might feel that way, but I also question why traditional, black-and-white, photo-less resumes are still what we consider to be professional.

Fellow COETAIL-er Mistral Dodson wrote here about being inspired by Sonya’s resume stating, “She presents it in a visually pleasing way that makes you want to read more. I know if I came across this in a stack of resumes, I would TOTALLY want to hire her just based on her creativity and obvious technology skills alone!”

I hope more people see creative resumes, those done in professions outside of just graphic design, in a similar light to Mistral. It demonstrates tech skills and a deeper critical thinking about how to sell oneself through both words and pictures. It’s a mastery of visual literacy, a skill quite important in any field today.

I took this, my plain-Jane, black-and-white, traditional resume:

And turned it into this (screen shot):


What I tried out in changing my resume:

  • Fewer words/short sentences to make it more reader friendly (so you’d want to read it!)
  • Color – a subtle amount of color in the titles mainly to guide reader’s eyes to what is important.  I also tried to use the color I’ve been using in my blog posts for highlighted texts since I wanted this to go on my About Me page for blog/brand consistency.
  • 2 fonts – I only used two different fonts here to keep it simple and tried to keep text size as consistent as possible throughout
  • Visuals – my original resume had some visuals for the contact info, I kept those and added some more in the right hand column for where I have worked and my degrees.  I do think I could put more at the bottom but did not want to over do it.
  • Visuals again – instead of using the circles for the chart I went with the geometric shapes that grow/expand. I sort of took the idea from a mindfulness .gif I’ve used in class (below) that I really like and thought it better showed how I grow from the why (which is, and should be the core).


After spending what seems like a good bit of time working on creating this… these are a few of the things I have learned:

  • There’s a reason why most people’s resumes are not so decorated… it takes a long time and is not easy to do, especially if you do not have design skills.
  • I need to learn to use InDesign (a skill I’ve been wanting to acquire, when I have the time, of course). I created this using Pages on my Mac. It was not as easy as I expected it to be, despite looking so simple (so many text boxes that bumped into each other and cut out the words in others).
  • I was not as creative as I would have liked to have been on this project. In my opinion, it’s still too similar to Sonya’s so I need to come up with more ways to make it my own.  To be fair, I did have some different ideas for the layout, but when I went to try designing them I realized my skills just weren’t at the level they need to be to make it look the way I envision it.
  • Canva is a good way to go for quick resume building that has some color and design to it so it stands out.
  • For me now… This will serve as more of an About Me page for this blog, I do plan to continue making some changes and improvements to it as I think on it more. It needs a little more info to really stand on its own as a full resume, I think. Do you agree?

What are your thoughts? What needs changing?