Why I Wrote It: Resume Plus

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Resume Plus was a weird book to write. It takes a bit of explanation.

First, I began deciding to write more. The thing that struck me as a writer is that I could just do the occasional book or I could really dive into it. Diving into it meant I did more, could sell more books, and I dug the challenge.

But the question was what to write. I was still getting into this whole rythm of “writing all the time.”

(By the way, by now I have so many ideas for books that I’m fine. I’m always writing as you noticed.)

One idea came from my blog.

I’d done a series on really awesome resumes that stood out. Some were made of code. Others had neat formatting tricks. Yet others got wacky and outrageous like being printed on a candy bar. I called it 50 Shades of Resume because I figured It’d be funny and . . . well anyway, we can judge that later.

Those analyses were perfect for a book. Plus, let’s face it, you didn’t have to read a ton of blog posts, and got more than the summary I’d written up.

So I returned to my blog posts and began cataloguing the advice I could get out of them. Fortunately, I’d had written summaries and advice on each of the fifty posts, so I had a good starting point.

However, a book is a way different format than a bunch of blog posts. So I had to collate all the advice, extend some, cut out others, and in general fit as a book. I’d taken resumes, written blog posts about them, then turned it into a book.

Some of this meant I had to ask myself “hey just what matters here” and “what did I actually mean here.”

The result though, after much thought, was a pretty good book! It’s one I’m proud of, though I fear some of it hasn’t aged well. I’m happy I also managed to do more with the advice, because despite all the predictions, the resume hasn’t gone away . . .

Steven Savage

50 Shades Of Resume: Make It Awesome

Org Chart

OK, after stepping away from resumes for a bit, I’m back for a final roundup. Namely, what we can learn from the 50 Shades of Resume analysis to make your resume awesome.

So I went through all my past analysis and here’s what stood out!

Now That’s Something Else

  • Making your resume look like something else is a great way to show creativity and communicate. If it looks like a newspaper, an ad, etc. that shows your skills and may just be a good way to communicate.
  • In some cases your resume could literally be in another form – a book, a poster, and so on. This could be radical and expensive, but clearly shows skill and commitment. An excellent choice if the chosen form relates to your career. Just make sure to have a regular resume available.
  • A resume can also be done over something or integrated into something – like an illustration ora photo. This can also let you focus on a look or a metaphor appropriate to a given industry or job.
  • You may want to go nuts and just go all out with a crazy, almost obsessive effort to do a different resume, especially if that applies to your skillset.

The Form And The Function

  • Try a different material besides paper – though if you make it out of something non-paper, you may want to make the content itself more standard. This will be memorable, though it may be a bit odd.
  • Consider resumes that can be folded into different forms, collapsed down like a flyer, etc. Those are great to hand out to people.
  • If you can do a business-card sized resume you’ve got a great thing to hand to people you meet.

Make It User Friendly

  • Consider making a resume as simple and minimal as possible. A good, precise resume can have an impact – and may fit well onto unusual forms.
  • The use of known icons for social media, skills, and so on makes a resume easy to read, skim, and use.

The Digital Resume

  • If you have an online or otherwise digital resume, this is a chance to use design, web, art, and technical skills to show your stuff. Or to show that you can pay someone. Either way you’re freed from physical limits.
  • Crazy online resumes and so on should have links to other ways to get a dull, regular resume. In case.
  • If you create a digital resume, consider making using a related metaphor – a familiar website, a video game, and so on.
  • Remember a digital resume can be interactive.

The Look

  • Coordinate your resume design and that of other marketing materials (business carts, web page) to have the same look. Use the same colors, fonts, icons, etc. This makes you memorable, looks professional, and probably is easier to update.
  • Font choice is very important – and you have a huge variety of them to choose from.
  • Consider varying font sizes and colors for a more diverse yet consistent resume.
  • Break your resume up well. Having identifiable sections makes it easier to skim and to digest.
  • Using colors stands out. Even one or two splashes makes a difference.
  • Good design can give a resume a 3D appearance, which can be very pleasing.
  • Consider anchoring your resume with visual elements; a colorful band down the middle of the page dividing it up, a picture of yourself at the top, different divisors, etc. These can let you keep a standard resume while making it more interesting.
  • Try something else than a white background and black text. I’ve seen resumes that were white-on-black and were very effective.


  • Two column resumes allow you to get a lot on one page. Make sure the columns are broken up appropriately.
  • Parts of a resume can be mutlicolumn, like putting achievements in multiple columns under a job. This can save space and let you experiment with better layouts and metaphors.
  • If you want to show some art, the left hand side is a good place to put it, providing a kind of border/compliment to the rest of the resume.
  • If you want to get a little crazy, try moving your name out of the header and vertically onto the side, in a band across the resume, or something else.

More Than Text

  • Paths, charts, graphs, and timelines are ways to give people a strong sense of your history. People relate to visual information.
  • A resume can be done as an infographic. Resumes sort of are anyway, but when you take it all the way and do it right it’s very effective.
  • If you’re rethinking the different parts of a resume consider how the different sections can be shown different. Some ideas:
    • Skills can be displayed as bar graphs.
    • Skills can be displayed as icons indicating software or products you know.
    • Job history and education can be shown as timelines.

Cover Letters

  • Don’t forget a good cover letter, package, envelope, etc. can make an impression. After all, people may see that before the resume.
  • If you have a standard format and design – fonts, colors – don’t forget to use that on cover letters.

Personal Touches

  • Including a picture (or drawing) of yourself personalizes a resume
  • If you’re an artist you can work in some of your art, but be careful so you don’t overwhelm the piece.

So those are the findings that came to mind for me after analyzing all these resumes.  I think I’ll be working them into some of my presentations and advice.

So, what did you learn?

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.

50 Shades of Resume: Aftermath

50 Shades of Resume is over. It’s been an interesting adventure, met a lot of great people, and I hope you learned some things. I will be doing a roundup afterwards, but I am also a bit tired of looking at resumes right now. I hope you’ll understand.

But what I did want to share is what I learned doing this. If you’re here there’s a good chance you write or blog an you may wonder just what you do – or don’t get out of doing this.

50 Shades of Resume’s goal was multifold:

  • To try a kind of themed writing.
  • To experiment with a long-term writing focus that’s very targeted.
  • To try a project that would involve people in the above.
  • To celebrate my “new” book.

So here’s what came of it:

  • This was really educational for me. If you do some kind of stunt/review pay attention, i’ll educate you. In fact, some of this will come up later.
  • It works if you do it in big pushes – but it will burn you out. I did a majority of these reviews in one day. Yes. One day. That was telling and fascinating, but also a lot of work. However it let me get into the “zone.”
  • Have an organizational structure for any project like this. early on I developed an outline of the basics of a review so I had an idea what to look for and what would work for people.
  • Pace. As cool as this was to do I think fifty in a ROW was honestly a bit much. Maybe every few days would have been better. I could have extended it to a year. But over time I got the impression the audience got a tad saturated.
  • This also helps projectize writing – it’s a good organizational lesson. DOing some kind of “themed writing” project may be good for you if you want to et more organized.
  • People got things out of this – several of the people I reviewed resumes for learned from their work. It’s nice to do one of these projects so they benefit.
  • If you’re looking for site hits, something like this seems unpredictable in the short term. Not sure what’ll happen in the long term.

So that’s what I learned. What’s next? Well, stay tuned, though I’ve got afew more things coming . . .

– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at http://www.musehack.com/, publishes books on career and culture at http://www.informotron.com/, and does a site of creative tools at http://www.seventhsanctum.com/. He can be reached at https://www.stevensavage.com/.