I received an email the other day from a reader who called himself 'Confused in Austin.' He's confused because after being told that the job market was hot in Austin, and uprooting his life to move there from New York City, he's finding it difficult to get interviews. He sent me a link to his online portfolio (he's a designer) and asked 'what can I do to get more call-backs and interviews?'
I won't link to his portfolio for confidentiality reasons, but I will say that it's clear to me why he isn't getting much response. The portfolio isn't the problem however - it's his resume. (Remember that people won't even get to your web portfolio in most cases unless they like what they see on your resume.)
Confused's resume looks like almost every other resume that I see, and that's the problem. Although I don't know him, I am 100% sure that he's better and more interesting than his resume. His resume communicates nothing of his personality. It says nothing about his design accomplishments. It doesn't even hint at the creative challenges he has faced and how he has addressed them. It basically says nothing about how he can be expected to add value.
Instead there are job titles, company names and dates followed by brief job descriptions - just lists of duties. All web designers have the same duties, however, so reading this list tells me nothing about this particular candidate.
Is he passionate about his work? Is he often the last one to leave at night because he just has to finish up a design? What are his design strengths? What projects does he love to work on and why? What is the most challenging project he was ever given and how did he handle it? How does he work under pressure? Does he do well when given a tight deadline? How does he approach difficult clients?
In other words, what are the unique blend of personality traits, skills and experiences that make this web designer different from the other people who sent resumes?
For me this is the core of writing a resume that drives call-backs and interview requests. (I wrote more about it in my free resume writing report which you are welcome to download here). Standing out from the crowd isn't about fancy designs or unusual fonts - it's simply about showing how and why you are unique.