WE’RE A CREATIVE, INTERACTIVE & MARKETING TALENT RESOURCE

So you want a fresh resume…. where to start?

In the 10 years I’ve been in staffing, I’ve looked at 3 million resumes (give or take a few 100,000). I’m excited to share some expert advice on making your resume excellent.

First at foremost, tailor your resume to align with the job you want, while keeping in mind that formatting, organization, and readability are important as well. Take a long look at the job description for the role you have in mind. What key words and ideas jump out at you? What have you accomplished in your career that makes you an awesome fit for the position? Do you have the software/technical skills reflected in your resume that are required? Your resume should reflect all of these things.

The closer your resume matches up with the job description, the more compelling it will be for a Recruiter or Hiring Manager to follow up with you. It may be easy to assume that having a certain job title means you have a specific kind of experience, but you need to spell things out for someone like a recruiter who might have many candidates in front of them with the same job title. If you are applying for a role that requires certain experiences, and you have that experience – add a specific section with examples of those.

LENGTH: Stick to a one-page resume if you have less than five years of experience, and expand into two pages if you’re more seasoned.

FORMATTING:

  • Stick with standard fonts like Arial, Garamond, Times New Roman or Calibri. They’re easy on the eyes
  • Choose size 11 or 12 font – making the font smaller to fit everything on one page is not ideal – it needs to be legible
  • Avoid script fonts. Use italics, bolding and caps sparingly
  • “Creative” formatting like using heavy graphics or running text diagonally across the page is never a good idea – sometimes your resume only gets a quick glance, make it count!

STRUCTURE:

  • Header: Your name, email address, phone number, city, state and zip code should be clearly listed at the top of the page. No need to share your street address.
  • Summary: A well-written Summary sets the stage for the rest of your resume. Five to seven sentences are ideal. Speak to your years of experience, area of specialization, and industries in which you’ve worked.  Do you have an advanced degree? Do you have staff management experience? Are you a strong project manager? Have you worked for a big name company or client? What are your technical or software skills?  Look at that job description again – and format each summary to each specific role you are applying for. What can you call attention to on a high-level to matches the things that the description calls for?
  • Tools/Skills: After your summary, make a quick list of the programs and skills in your toolkit – leading with those called for in the job description. Whether you’re a marketing analyst well-versed in Adobe Analytics and SQL or a designer skilled at using Adobe Creative Cloud, call attention to your familiarity with the required and nice-to-have tools.
  • Professional Experience:
    – List your experience chronologically, with your most recent job listed first.
    – If you have been working for an agency or freelancing, include the names/industries of your top clients. Unless your company is a house-hold name, include a one line description about your company. Are they national or global? This helps put your experience into context.
    – Lead with your company, title, start and end dates including months, not just the year.
    – When describing your role, think about the job description again. Lead with information that ties back to the job you’re applying to. More than just a list of tasks, speak to your measurable accomplishments. How have you impacted the bottom line?
    – Format these points in a bulleted list, rather than a big block of text.

EDUCATION: If you are early in your career (less than three years out of school), consider floating your Education as the first item on your resume. If not, the Education section should be toward the end. Include the name of your school, the degree earned, and your graduation date.

THINGS TO LEAVE OFF:

  • “References available upon request.” This is assumed.
  • Personal interests can be appealing to potential hiring managers, but avoid anything that is polarizing such as religious affiliations.

For feedback on your resume and a hand with your job search, get in touch with a real-life smartie today!

Find a job in Chicago >
Find a job in Grand Rapids >
Find a job in Seattle >

 

from the desk of Amy Porter, Sr. Creative Consultant in Chicago

The Zombie

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal, Eric Pairitz

1. The Zombie

Okay, it’s true, zombies are as popular as ever. Movies, shows, conventions about movies and shows — it goes on and on. Hey, for the purpose of entertainment, I love them too. But there’s one place that zombies are not welcome (anyone?). That’s right. In an interview. In this context, a “zombie” refers to a person who continually gives one-word answers and generally refuses to engage in a “conversation” during the interview.

There are many elements involved in successfully navigating the interview process. The most obvious is having the exact skill set the prospective employer is seeking. But perhaps the second most obvious is communication — being able to talk through a solution you’re offering in your portfolio, for example. Or, your approach to a difficult situation you encountered at another job and how you worked through it. Clear, concise communication can leave a prospective employer impressed and can sometimes be a difference maker if other elements of your interview come up short.

Besides, think of all the money you’ll save not having to buy zombie make-up! All by simply being conversational with your approach to an interview.

 

Introducing our new blog series – Interview Don’ts

from the desk of smartdept. inc. Principal: Eric Pairitz

I would like to formally (or informally) introduce smartdept’s new blog series — cleverly entitled, Interview Don’ts. This eight-part series was created to help give potential candidates an edge by making light of a few “don’ts” that we occasionally see while interviewing.

Accompanying these short bits of useful knowledge are video performances depicting, in a (not so) real way, how these scenarios might play out.

In addition, I am pleased to introduce, The Not Ready For Bedtime Players, a small, but mighty group of performers who took the stage in these budget-busting depictions.

Stay tuned for the first installment tomorrow, and enjoy!

 

 

 

Life at smartdept. inc. Through One Recruiter’s Eyes

From the desk of Chicago recruiter: Leah Bye

Lately we’ve been discussing in our Chicago and Seattle offices the way the workforce is changing, both for employers and employees/job seekers (case in point, Beth’s last blog post).  While the job seekers are looking for extra perks in the workplace to engage them, employers also are looking at what job seekers are bringing to the table in addition to their career experience.  Look on any career information site, and you’ll see article after article about employers needing to be capable of motivating their employees to keep them engaged and happy. On the flip side, you’ll also see discussions that encourage hiring managers to bring on individuals that have inspirational attitudes, are a cultural fit, and can contribute something extra to the team. Obviously, experience is also part of the hiring process, and position details and potential to grow are players in the searching process (but let’s not worry about the minor details).

So, with that being said, I thought I’d share a bit about our workplace, how we keep engaged and how I, personally, have wedged my way in so my coworkers will suffer from sugar withdrawals if they decide they don’t need me in the office.

Here’s a little insight into what it’s like at smartdept. inc.:
As you may know, we have “boutique” spaces, both in Chicago, and Seattle. So, making sure that our teams work and interact together well is extremely important. On the work/motivational side, we keep each other in check, we encourage each other to push boundaries when applicable, and we always keep it constructive. On the interaction/frivolities side, you’ll occasionally see us at Cubs’ or Mariners’ games, or the Thai place around the corner. You may even see one of us walking around in our new “Winner’s” belt (see Eric’s last blog post). Our office competitions might sound silly, but the winner is always rewarded with something special, like pork rinds, which in turn creates a lot of running office jokes.

What I contribute outside of my job description:
Because I’m a narcissist, so why not talk about myself? I’ve positioned myself as the resident baker (in Chicago, sorry Seattle) – mostly birthdays, occasionally just because, always because I want to make something and can’t be trusted to keep it in my apartment. My contribution outside of what I actually do as a recruiter here at smartdept, inc. is that I make treats, hopefully well, and will even put together your own personal stash to take home if it’s your special day.  There have definitely been a few guinea pig moments. I’m thankful to have such an accepting crowd (especially Eric, don’t tell Michelle).

leahbye_baked-goods

I’m not saying your workplace has to be your everything, but, you do spend an awful lot of time there. So why not be somewhere that keeps you at your best, better than the rest?

– Leah Bye

 

Corporate Culture Helps Determine Fit

From the desk of Seattle recruiter: Beth Miller

Corporate Culture. It’s the newest catchphrase for employers and job seekers alike. As the job market evens out, candidates are more concerned with work/life balance than finding a job they actually enjoy rather than just a number on a paycheck. Similarly, employers understand that happier, more engaged employees will stay longer and produce more, creating a shift toward culture fit and soft skills in many of the creative and marketing roles we’re staffing. I’ve experienced both sides of the culture equation – a great culture fit (thank you, smartdept. inc.), and a lousy one (we’ll be vague on the specifics). I’ve found a company with values that are similar to my own personal goals of professional growth and philanthropy, and I feel supported in my role.

But what does “culture” look like when you’re a freelancer? Here are a few things I like to keep in mind to gauge whether a candidate is a good long-term fit for a client.

First, take note of the physical space of the office you might be working in. Is it loud and bright, or mellow and dark? Is it an open area, or cubed? Is there music on or does everyone have ear-buds in? As much as skill set is a factor in determining whether or not a candidate is qualified for a position, it’s equally important to ensure a candidate can work in the physical space.

Second, ask process-focused questions. Having a firm understanding of how projects and tasks are managed, what the daily workflow looks like and understanding how your peers, managers and teams will interact is important. As a recruiter I do my best to set clear expectations at the beginning of any interaction with our candidates. Communication is key, and understanding how communication works within an organization can determine whether a candidate will be a good fit.

The final thing to keep in mind when assessing culture fit is whether the core values of an organization are similar to your own values. Employees come and go, and yes, corporate culture can (and probably should) evolve as there are advances in technology, organizational growth and new hires joining a company, but if you agree with the core values of an organization that’s a huge indicator that the role could be a long term fit.

Spending time thinking about culture fit, whether you’re a candidate or employer, is an important piece to the hiring puzzle.

– Beth

The Right Mix of Personality Types: 5 Lessons From the Animal Kingdom

We all know from personal experience that the right mix of personality types is essential for the success of a group, whether it’s a project team, a committee, a department or an entire organization. Some function smoothly, with good communication and everyone playing to his or her strengths, focusing on the task at hand. Others bog down in palace intrigue or bureaucratic infighting, accomplishing little if anything.

A recent Forbes Insights study, sponsored by ACCA and Ipsos, “Nurturing Europe’s Spirit of Enterprise: How Entrepreneurial Executives Mobilize Organizations to Innovate,” examined this issue in terms of innovation within European companies, classifying executives as one of five personality types.

But some recent animal studies may offer further insights into the optimal mix of personality types. Since the stakes involved in success or failure of a flock, pack or school are a matter of life, death and reproductive success, these lessons often emerge with a stark clarity.

Read the full article on forbes.com!

Moving On After a Colleague Leaves

If you work for a company long enough, you see a lot of colleagues come and go. In some cases, their brief stay can have a lasting impact.

Recently, I said goodbye to a beloved coworker and former boss who left to pursue new career interests. She was here for less than three years—I’ve been here for 10—but during her short tenure, she made a very big impression on me. Her management and editing style was stronger and more inspiring than that of anyone I had reported to previously, and under her guidance, I saw my career ascend to a much greater level.

Later, when I moved to the small-business section, this person’s role morphed into that of a trusted colleague, and eventually, even a friend. I would frequently turn to her for career and personal advice, and she always came through with a heartfelt answer. I know I’ll stay in touch with her via email, the phone and occasional lunch dates, but her absence in the office today is impossible to ignore.

Read the full article here! (via online.wsj.com)

Are We In or Outside of the Box? Who Put us There?

Check out this great article, written by one of our talented candidates in Seattle!

(Susan Straub-Martin on biznik.com) – We give away our knowledge, and we just assume that everyone knows everything we know. STOP! You have worked hard, gone to school, learned from every job you ever had, and you assume that EVERYONE knows what you know. WRONG!

Read the full article here!

How to Do More in Less Time

Often, I can be on the computer all day long. Sure, it’s my job — writing, planning, interviews, video, project coordination. However, I find that I have no time for thinking, reading and other things I can and should be doing in the course of the day.

Am I alone? Do you feel this way? Maybe in your case, you are only reading, and not updating your blog. Maybe you’re on the phone all day long selling to new clients and never visiting a customer.

Read the full article here! (via openforum.com)

How to Get More Design Referrals

Freelancers and small design companies do not have large marketing budgets. There may be a few dollars here or there to spend on Google AdWords, Facebook ads or perhaps a small print campaign, but by and large we survive on one things: referrals.

When someone begins his/her freelance design career, all we have are referrals: from our friends, schoolmates, even our parents and family. As we land our first clients and complete our first design jobs, it’s important to realize the importance of referrals and think about how to maximize them. The more clients we get, the more opportunity for referrals, which brings in more clients, and so on. It grows exponentially and, if you take steps to ensure you get more referrals, you may not have to spend a cent on advertising. Ever.

Read the full article here! (via www.paper-leaf.com)

Get a Design Job!

(www.aiga.org) RitaSue Siegel’s Get a Design Job, now in its third edition, is available to the AIGA community at no charge. Originally written for Innovation, the quarterly publication of the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA), Siegel offers advice to emerging designers looking to break into the world of design, designers eager to improve their positions, as well as recently downsized managers and executives.

From performing a self-evaluation on the core design competencies that can add value to a wide range of businesses, to navigating different types of interviews and networking situations, Get a Design Job offers practical advice for the changing roles of today’s designers.

Read the full article  here!

11 Traits of a Great Employer

Darcy Breeman works for Edward Jones, a company that recently came in at No. 2 in Fortune’s annual list of the 100 Best Places to Work. So what makes that investment company unique and why is it on the list? Well, just consider Bremen’s story:

“I’m in the process of adopting a newborn and will be a single mom. Jones will send someone to my office to cover me while I’m gone and serve my clients… I can [then] come back and take a couple of appointments a day and then come home. If I want to bring my daughter into the office, that’s fine. They [even] have an adoption reimbursement plan.”

Read the full article on openforum.com!

How Can Designers Make the Most of Their Workdays

Workdays matter a lot in your professional life when you take and overview of all of them. It is important that a professional makes the most out of his workdays in order to succeed in his career. Same goes for the designers. Either you are a salaried designer working for a design house or a freelance design business owner working from home, spending your workdays effectively is the actual key to success. There are some key-points to be remembered by both these individuals.  This article focuses on freelance designers only however, I am going to discuss salaried individuals in my next posts.

Read the full article tutoriallounge.com!

13 Essential Tips for Landing a Job on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is one of the best places online to find a job, period. It’s also a great place to connect with top decision makers, generate targeted leads for your business, drive traffic to your website, and more.

I hear countless stories every week from people who land amazing full time positions at great companies thanks to engagement on LinkedIn. Although there are a number of approaches you can take when hunting for the right job, start with these 13 important tips for using LinkedIn effectively.

Read the full article on mashable.com

The Ins and Outs of Working In-house

I started my career at the in-house design department of a Fort Lauderdale-based construction company. It was a terrible experience that lasted all of seven days. After that I swore to never work in-house anywhere, ever again. For four jobs (and about as many years) I kept that promise. Then I moved to New York City.

In other cities, I never had any trouble finding work. I would decide I hated my job one week, only to have another one lined up the next. I got unsolicited job offers and was the subject of a few hostile take-over attempts. I ignorantly assumed that New York would be the same. As one of the capitals of design, it must have thousands of jobs to offer, no? As you can all imagine, I quickly discovered it was quite the opposite.

Read the full article by Johanna Björk on aiga.com

How to Prepare for a Phone Interview

(about.com) – Some employers choose to prescreen job applicants over the phone before doing an in-person interview. If you’re selected for a phone interview, prepare for a phone interview just as carefully as you would for a regular interview.

Prepare for a Phone Interview Research the job and the company so you are prepared to discuss the company and your role if you were to be hired. Compile a list of answers to typical phone interview questions. In addition, have a list of questions ready to ask the interviewer.

Read the full article here!

5 Ways to Improve Meetings

(www.openforum.com) – Meetings are very expensive. Time is precious, and having many people in a room is quite costly by any measurement. The cost of an interrupted workflow is even worse, especially for a small business.

 You might be especially productive early in the morning, from the moment you start working. I might require an hour or so of build-up time before I’m ready to get cranking. But when a meeting starts, our preferences and differences are cast aside. Meetings strip us of the core tenet of the creative process: autonomy.

 We can’t rid the world of meetings. After all, the benefits of meeting do sometimes outweigh the costs. But we can meet more wisely.

 Here are five tips for improving the experience and outcome of meetings:

Read the full article here!

Jobless claims drop below 400,000 mark

(CNNMoney.com) — For the first time in more than two years, the number of Americans filing for their first week of unemployment benefits fell below 400,000 last week — a ray of hope in the one of the longest job droughts in U.S. history.

The number of initial claims fell to 388,000 in the week ended Dec. 25, down 34,000 from the week before, the Labor Department said Thursday.

Read the full article here!

3 Business Tools to Spice Up Boring Work Tasks

(mashable.com) – The small business professional’s workday can be both tedious and mundane when it comes to necessary daily, weekly and monthly tasks that feel more like chores than accomplishments.

Presentations for meetings or keynotes can take hours, if not days, to perfect. Building dynamic accounting reports is a labor of love (or heartbreak), and everyone dreads monthly must-complete expense reports.

While there’s no escaping these unfortunate tasks, newer web and mobile applications, like Prezi, inDinero and Expensify, make the time spent doing them much less arduous, and in the end, you might be infinitely more pleased with the results.

Read the full article here!

Staying in School Forever

(Scott Young on scotthyoung.com) – As a species, our incubation period is getting longer.

Just a few hundred years ago, finishing twelve years of education was uncommon. Today it’s difficult to get a job above minimum wage without a high-school diploma.

Teenagers were once miniature adults. Fifteen year-old girls got married. Sixteen year-old boys went to work. Today teenagers are older children. I know many people that aren’t financially independent well into their twenties.

This increase incubation is probably because, as the world becomes more specialized and complex, we need more time to learn things. Also as science and technology accelerate, we need more time to specialize. There are people who need to study principles of chemistry to get jobs today that hadn’t even been discovered 100 years ago.

Read the full article here!

Load More Posts