You’ve revised and rewritten your cover letter and curriculum vitae or resume so many times that you’ve got enough material for a book. You’ve asked colleagues and mentors to have a look at the final product, and you may have even read it to your cat.
Then and only then, when the package summarizes your best self, you send it out — and you land an interview, only to discover that the firm’s interviewer did not read your resume.
A scenario like this leads you to ask, how much time do architect firms spend reviewing resumes, anyway?
What Resume Reviewers Wish You Knew — from Their Side of the Table
Architect firms often develop procedures that help them select candidates with the best fit. A firm’s strategies for reading and selecting resumes may include the following:
- Working from a checklist that includes the minimum characteristics they’re looking for, plus any potential red flags, such as long work history gaps. Firms may consider minimum qualifications such as minimum education, applicable experience, and certifications.
- Looking for alignment. For example, candidates who seek to transition from the hospitality industry to healthcare should show in their resumes the relevant aspects of design in both fields. A candidate may be brilliantly innovative, but if the job calls for commercial experience, the resume must include it.
- Focusing on the language used. If using the denotatively correct word is essential to success in architecture and design resumes, connotation carries even more weight. Reviewers look for:
- Action verbs (coordinated, developed, initiated, led, supervised)
- Descriptions that show rather than tell about a project (wrote and illustrated an onboarding one-sheet that increased new employee readiness to work by 10%).
- Uniqueness among candidates (donated 1 week of personal leave to local community efforts to create houses for the homeless).
- Checking for mistakes. Proofreading goes with the territory. It may seem petty, but resume reviewers notice misspelled words, uneven margins, and poor design on their candidates’ resumes. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything; reviewers assume that any inattention to detail on a resume will also appear in your work.
Final Advice from the Architect Firms Looking for Design Talent
Your cover letter, resume or CV is your first and best opportunity to make yourself stand out from other candidates. You can be humble about your achievements but don’t hide them.
Instead, showcase your work and its impact on clients and the firm in which you work(ed). To ensure that your application is read, keep it short: one page for the cover letter, another for the resume, and no more than two pages for your portfolio.
Your well-written, attractive and brief resume is the key to getting an interview.
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