A Two-sided Resume? Standing out from the crowd!
By Rhonda Messinger
My initial reaction to the client who asked if she could send a two-sided resume for a job posting was, “Never.” Then I thought about it. Wouldn't it make sense for “green” employers to appreciate a two-sided resume over a standard two-page resume? And wouldn’t this client standout from the crowd? I turned to the National Career Development Association (NCDA) LinkedIn group, a local Human Resource Management group and several local business groups for feedback. Their insights formed the basis for the following recommendations for using two-sided resumes and other creative approaches in job searching.
1. Research the industry and the companies.
Marie Zimenoff, a career manager and job search strategist in the Colorado area encourages job seekers to do research on the company they are approaching. “A job seeker doesn’t seem to fit the mission/vision of the [green] organization if they hand them a resume on two separate pages at a job fair.” Brian Pillsbury, Assistant Director of Career Services at Northern Illinois University countered, “I honestly don’t know that a double sided resume would make that much of a difference to any but the most green employers.” As you can imagine clients will find at least two sides to every creative effort they consider and the two-sided resume is no exception. What’s important therefore, is to encourage them to research and uncover the brands, interests, missions and goals of the organizations they want to attract and use that information as a catalyst for a memorable creative approach.
2. Consider the downsides.
Some creative approaches have downsides that are important to consider before using them. What happens when a long-standing tradition of “how a resume should be” is “tampered with” to send an ecological message? Dennis Rouelle, a former recruiter and current career counselor at University of Connecticut, shared one downside. “I can tell you that resumes usually get dumped into a copy machine…recruiters and administrative staff are in a hurry to copy a pile of resumes for review or forwarding to hiring managers, interviewers, etc…many recipients of these copies will only get the first page.” Beth Longton, a consultant and managing member of H.R. Outcomes, L.L.C. who finds, sorts and screens applicants for companies shares, “I wouldn’t mind receiving [a resume] that is two-sided.” She agrees however, that she might forget to copy both sides when preparing packets for interviews.
3. Plan for the unexpected.
Angela Shores a Licensed Professional Counselor and adjunct lecturer in North Carolina recommended this plan for the unexpected: “Put a small text footer with a remark about being green or conserving resources so employers readily know why the two-sided and not a traditional approach was used.” A footnote will help interviewers know if something is missing. And while they are looking for the second page, think of how many times your client’s name will be spoken. Your client might even get a personal call to send another resume. Not too bad of an outcome.
Plans for the unexpected might however, inspire a client to instead volunteer in an environmentally friendly organization. Once there, the client can build a network of contacts that share his or her zeal for a reduced carbon footprint. Or clients might do both, use two-sided resumes and volunteer. Either way, planning for the unexpected adds choices for illustrating valuable selling points to a potential employer.
4. Get noticed for the right things.
If clients are going to do something creative, encourage them to not waste the attention they generate on something for which they are not 100% proud to be remembered. “I would encourage [clients] to explain the new format in their cover letter,” shared Michelle M. Carroll, President of the Maryland Career Development Association. She suggested using a statement like, “As you review my enclosed resume, please note my attempt to go green by using both sides instead of 2 pages.” Carol Myers, a Wisconsin area student, “loves the idea of saving paper as long as the weight of the paper is heavier and you don’t see the print on the other side.” Lisa Vauyskaya, a freelance Graphic Designer explained on Linked In Answers, that both the presentation and the content must be impressive to garner the attention of a potential employer.
There is no all-encompassing creative approach that works for every job seeker. Through individualized research, clients will find ways to market themselves while demonstrating knowledge of a company’s brand or mission. Considering the downsides of their actions will help them see the best options for their situation. Planning for the unexpected will enhance their creativity, not limit it, and they will find beneficial and rewarding ways to brand and promote themselves as a result. Whatever methods they choose, encourage them not to shortcut their efforts. Creativity can be an effective tool for setting themselves apart in both positive and negative ways. Help them choose the positive path.
Rhonda C. Messinger, GCDF is the owner of Career Momentum, LLC where she provides career and entrepreneurial consulting in-person, online, through Skype and over the telephone. Her strengths are in training, coaching and mentoring clients as they develop and use tools and techniques that effectively promote their skills, interests and career dreams. She holds an M.A. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis on HRD and Instructional Development, a GCDF certification from NCDA and is working toward coaching certification at the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). Contact her at email@example.com.
Kathy Meisinger on Wednesday 03/02/2011 at 12:03 PM
Excellent article, Rhonda. I experienced a similar job seeker request last year. A small non-scientific sampling of employers in the Elgin, Illinois area indicated that employers are not ready to embrace this concept. Most felt that it was a great idea, and one whose time may come, but it would create problems for their paperwork flow. Worse, they felt that they might miss something that would lead them to call a candidate for an interview.
Walt Lodes Jr. on Wednesday 03/23/2011 at 01:23 PM
Nice article, goes hand-in-hand with the discussion we had at the last Career Professionals Roundtable in Kalamazoo. A good resume is essential as a portal to the entire hiring process, although I haven't seen widespread 2-sided use.
Alison Her on Thursday 06/28/2012 at 12:41 AM
For the record, "standout" is a noun (as in "The clear standout at the talent contest was the saxophonist"). When used as a phrasal verb, it is two words: "stand out." Sorry, but such mistakes really diminish a person's authority.
Dianne Butler on Thursday 06/28/2012 at 05:14 PM
Interesting concept, certainly something to think about. My suggestion would be to keep the reader(s) in mind when stepping outside the box.
Rhonda Messinger on Wednesday 08/01/2012 at 12:26 PM
Thank you Kathy, Walt and Dianne for all of your comments and perspectives on two-sided resumes. Given the increase in online resume submission the point may be rapidly becoming moot. Employers are printing resumes off of the electronic files based on their organizational needs. Maybe using snail mail will soon help job seekers stand apart from the crowd too.
Alison, you raise a good point regarding typos - especially in resumes. Typos do diminish the message and often prevent readers from focusing on content rather than format. Thank you for catching my error.