Consider The Option To Be Unique

As the holiday season approaches and our business typically winds down, the phone calls, emails, and resumes certainly keep coming: For some upcoming grads and intern hopefuls, the semester break hastens their search for summer employment.

Let your personality shine through!

There are many reasons to be excited about this time of year, and an interaction with these young job seekers is one that I always welcome. It is this group of students who will be the latest to enter the work force with unbridled enthusiasm to make a name for themselves.

The past couple years has had me doing something different with a few of the student resumes received. Perhaps I am rude, my ways wrongful, somewhat rebellious, maybe unwise; by all means, I know them to be rather unique.

It begins with the ending of that standard resume cover letter--you know, the one with the typical closing that reads: "Should you have any further questions...I look forward to speaking with you in the near future".

Well, I do, and I agree. Let's talk about the comments and questions I have.

With a somewhat bold intent to offer constructive feedback, the content-review of the resume and portfolio gives witness to a level of talent and presentation skill of the applicant. In a sense, this review introduces the applicants to a QA/QC process in a non-academic way.

The body of work submitted gets evaluated, redlined, and returned for corrections. It probably goes without saying: This action catches them a bit off-guard.

And it is their reaction that can initially define the personality and fortitude of the applicant. If they react or interact to the feedback with a positive attitude, they will be bumped up on my consideration scale.

Starting with the resume, nearly every review I suggest striking "the objective statement". Think about it. Every person sending a resume wants a "challenge" and to "pursue a career in landscape architecture". Why else would you be sending a resume?

Secondly, know that a skill set proclaimed to have an "excellent understanding of CAD, spreadsheets, and word processing" is expected. So unless your skill has been rewarded or recognized, consider not wasting page space telling of the software you are comfortable using. That knowledge will most likely become an interview discussion whether it's on your resume or not.

If common sense allows us to omit them, these two points can be replaced in your resume with other information or graphics that might showcase character, talent, desire, passion, interest, or professional eagerness.

For an entry-level hire, the goodness in a person is much more desirable for employment than the production one might receive from the start. Production can be taught and coached; a personality is what it is.

Lastly, the resume and portfolio are all about the page formatting. Please, y'all, no leaf watermarks or colored stationary. A simple yet creative format can be very appealing and much appreciated.

Make the resume-read a more enjoyable experience. Perhaps that is a magazine layout style, or maybe a journal format. Whatever the case, let it be as unique in its presentation as you are in your person.

Please know this advice is merely a suggestion of how to better express your personality and creativity during a job search. Pertinent information should always be included regarding you, your career, or application. Use your best judgment in communicating your intent and purpose.

If the resume is being sent to a large firm with a formal human resources department, a more traditional presentation may be better suited to get past the first screening. But do realize there are benefits in having two or three styles of resumes/portfolios.

All can say the same thing; each can have a unique presentation format. Keep all those resumes in your back pocket for when that right opportunity affords your creativity to shine.

Polish your resume this weekend and send it to a friend or colleague--that person you know will gladly take a look and be "objective" with questions and comments. In so doing, they truly might "look forward to speaking with you in the near future".

Have a great weekend.

Tim May is a professional landscape architect and LEED AP for TNP in Fort Worth, Texas. He can be reached via email at or by twitter at @TMay82