Walking through my resume redesign

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

I’ve just finished writing a blog post on smashing magazine about designing a resume.  I ran the competition about Steve Stevenson, and was a bit sad that I couldn’t participate (it wouldn’t have been fair, as I was seeing everyone else’s, and I had come up with the stuff for it).  But, as I came up with the competition, I began reworking my own resume.  When I started out in design a few years back,  I’d always gotten loads of compliments on the design of mine– it was more unique than lots of peoples’ and its character was one of the reasons why people hired me back in the day.  So, I opened it up and realized that I hadn’t updated it in over 2 years!


Now, a LOT has changed in the past two years.  I’ve blossomed into a full blown web designer now, and I’ve worked on some really great projects. And, let’s be honest, I’m a much better designer now than I was then (at least, I like to think I am!).  There was no way I could keep a lot of the old content on there, and print work from 1998 isn’t featured anywhere in my portfolio, so it had to go too.

It was also a bit boring to me now and almost a little bit clinical.  It didn’t reflect what I can do, and it didn’t make any of my work seem very interesting or impressive.

I wanted to do something cool and unique– I know there’s a few camps on resume design and its printability and format (one camp saying it should be in word/plain text. But I’m in the “impress me” camp as I work on quite creative projects and want to be hired by people that want something more unique). I’m quite happy in my job at the moment, so I have time to tweak it to my hearts content (hopefully with some great constructive criticism from you kids). Because I’m always interested on how people come up with designs, I thought I’d document my process!


My initial idea was to have pockets of information– each bit was in its own circle, and the ones that I was most proud of, or were most impressive, would be bigger.



The problem was that it didn’t actually have any flow at all, it was confusing, and there was no chronological ordering (which meant people wouldn’t know where to start reading). As soon as I started putting the circles and the info in, I knew that it wasn’t quite right.


So the next idea was to have my projects listed, by order of importance.  Here’s a screen of that design in progress.


First problem was that it made me look like a freelancer.  There was no way to separate my actual jobs from my personal projects.  It was also just a little too plain. I wanted to do something different, something that was more of an informational diagram than just a list of things.

the idea

So, as you do, it was in the shower that I had an idea for a chronological-style timeline.  What if all the items came off in little pockets from the timeline, like the dinosaurs?  I could also do something with colour or section things off so you could see that I worked on things at a similar time.


In practice though, I was still having problems making any sort of distinction between full time work and side projects.  I also wasn’t sure how to incorporate my skills in there.  I thought about having employment on the top of the bar, with skills underneath, matching my time working with those technology in brackets.  A quick try at this and I decided that it looked too busy that way, and I was going to have to simplify things if I was going to make it effective.

My other issue was that I had done a LOT of work in 2008, but not really that much in other years (at least that I wanted to show off!)… I was risking 2008  getting really bloated if I wasn’t careful about how I organized it.

I played around with coloured bars for each year getting darker for each year, finally going to a cyan on current, but it made the page really cluttered and very difficult to read.  My other issue was that I worked at Simply Business and BView at the same time.  It’s not actually important to an employer, but I wanted to acknowledge that the BView employement went back to 2007, but it’s very much into the 2008-current block.  The little tail pushes it backwards towards its rightful place.

The top area is my 4 main design jobs I’ve had.  I’ve worked on a lot of other projects as well, but I wanted to focus on the ones where I spent the longest and were most relevant to webdesign.

I have the year display getting bigger and bigger, which means that there’s not a lot of empty space I haven’t used effectively.

My favourite projects besides BView are thepickuptrucktheBoxCat and snowplease, of them, unfortunately only the pickup truck is finished yet (but hopefully the others will be done soon).  I wanted to give extra focus to these, as, well, they’re really exciting projects and I’ve worked hard on them (and, when they go live in the next few months, they’ll be the projects I’ll want people to go look at).

I also wanted it to be a fast read.  It’s just supposed to be a summary– they’re little tidbits of information to prompt people to ask more questions, or to give them a little taste of a project and then allow them to view the work and let it speak for itself.

I’ve also included little tidbits of information: me learning photoshop, going to Japan, started dressmaking and when I started up safetygoat are all in there instead of having an interests thing separately.  Too many resumes I have seen have no personality.  (something which will make a person stand out, which matters when people are looking through hundreds of resumes. I always think back about when I came to the UK and got two interviews for jobs I was completely unqualified for, because I had a cheeky cover letter.)

So here it is…


Freelance work is there as well, but it’s not as prominent.  I’ve kept the lower left corner for my skills and a brief summary.

I broke a lot of the rules I came up with myself in my blog post from smashing, but I think it makes it a really interesting resume.  Welcome your thoughts.


  1. [...] through jobs … , Mac ( Steve Zahn). Mac suggests that Rose can make loads of money by cleaning Walking through my resume redesign – safetygoat.co.uk 04/12/2009 I’ve just finished writing a blog post on smashing magazine about [...]

  2. Robin Cannon says:

    I think it’s excellent, gives all the relevant information as well as actively showing off your design skills.

    Thing is, though, is it going to work better or worse than the traditional resume? That’s really the crux of the matter. I’d worry that too many companies, even in the creative industries, are still tied to the standard resume type and are going to discount a supposed ‘wacky’ version even if it looks great in design.

  3. admin says:

    It’s an interesting question… I think it would be a good test to send two sets of resumes out, both with the same information (ie. very qualified for the jobs), but one with a funky design and one without. It would be interesting to see which resume did better, and if the funky design got picked up by more elite agencies.

  4. Mark Lee says:

    Hi Kate

    Found your content today, very taken as it is very modern and a real credit to you.

    I am 50 with no formal training, life is very tough for me here in Sydney as I have wife and 3 teenage children.

    I am going to review my resume a build a website that is in the same “legend” status as yours.

    I publish newsletters and annual reports for my football club and have a webmaster that hates me because I took his job, just adds to the daily pressure!

    Would like to stay in touch and crusie a few things past you if possible.

    My present resume has he life story bit, its good and long but when your 50 its very hard to leave some things out.


    Mark Lee

  5. Mark says:

    It looks a bit too much like a web page but then again you are a web designer, so I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. If I was an employer and this was in the pile of CVs it would definetly catch my eye but then I just realised, is it meant to be printed?

    I guess web designers just link to an online PDF then.

  6. George says:

    I’m no recruiter but I love it. Very creative, clean and modern.

    However, I’d say you’re missing achievements. Don’t go fibbing and say you don’t have any because everyone does! From my own experience, listing achievements instead of roles will grab a recruiter/potential client much quicker.

    My sister, her fiancee and a girl I dated all work in IT recruitment so I can run it past them if you want an honest opinion from professionals. The feedback might be worthless if you’re applying directly to companies and not going through agencies but it might be worth a punt anyhoo.

    Let me know!


    PS: My safety goat is still perched on my monitor stand and might come with me to Amsterdam this weekend. Will get pics!

  7. admin says:

    Yea, I’m not actually looking for a job, so any feedback is good. If I were, it probably wouldn’t be for a corporate job anyway! I haven’t really applied to any contests recently, and I have a few awards, but they’re a few years old…but do they really mean anything? I was looking for something that made my actual projects stand out, so people could decide on their own if I was any good! Thanks for the feedback :)

  8. George says:

    I got this feedback for you from my sister’s other half:

    “Looks OK for a job in this area but prob needs examples of work on there for eg Links.”

    He’s not a man of many words… :s


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