What do résumés and clothes have in common?

In the last couple of weeks I’ve helped out a few friends construct and polish their résumés, and while I was in the mood I updated my own (something I tend to do at least a couple of times a year). While reviewing a résumé the other night, I had a strange and silly realization: résumés have a great deal in common with clothes.

“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard!”, you say? Well, hear me out…

Like clothes, your résumé should be changed regularly.

Clothes get stale, and so do résumés. You should update your résumé regularly, whether or not you’re looking for a job. This way, you’ll have an up-to-date version handy if your dream job suddenly pops up. Plus, you’ll be much better at accurately capturing your accomplishments if you update periodically than if you do a mass overhaul every few years.

Like clothes, your résumé has to cover all the important bits.

‘Nuff said.

Like clothes, your résumé should highlight your best features.

Good clothes accentuate your best features while obscuring your worst, and a résumé is the same. You need to make sure it makes your strengths pop, while making any gaps seem irrelevant or trivial by comparison.

Like clothes, your résumé’s style needs to be updated to stay current.

Setting aside content for a moment, the style of your résumé needs to be modern. Admittedly, this point is probably more applicable in some fields than others, but at the very least a slick, stylish résumé will help you to stand out from the crowd. I cringe when I see a staid, boring lay-out with a Times New Roman fontCringe.

Like clothes, your résumé should reflect your personal style.

Not everyone’s style is the same, and there are many ways to stand out. You should try out different styles and pick the one that works for you.

Like clothes, your résumé should tease and tantalize and leave the viewer wanting more.

A résumé isn’t the entire job application, so it doesn’t need to contain every last relevant tidbit. Much better to have a clean, readable résumé than a dense thesis that overwhelms the reader and makes them miss the main points. Too many people equate “more” with “better”, but I think it’s a mistake to do so. In fact, sometimes you can say too much and give the reviewer reason to question your suitability. Instead, get their attention and create some excitement…this will pique their curiosity and increase the odds that they want to talk to you to get the full goods.

Like clothes, your résumé should have layers.

With clothes, you dress in layers so that you can build an overall picture; plus, when it gets hot you can peel things off. In a résumé, the overall picture is built with section layouts and font styles. Like clothes, different styles in a résumé can be complementary: a table here, columns there, and bullets somewhere else.

Like clothes, your résumé should align with trends.

What’s hot in your industry? What trends are shaping the “tomorrow” for which the business is hiring? You probably know the answers, but are those terms listed on your résumé? For instance, in telecom “big data” and “virtualization” are huge trends, so at the very least I want to show familiarity with the concepts…you’ll find both on my résumé.

So there you have it…sure, I had a bit of fun with this one, but I’ll bet you didn’t know résumés had so much in common with clothing!


Lee Brooks is the founder of Cromulent Marketing, a boutique marketing agency specializing in crafting messaging, creating content, and managing public relations for B2B technology companies.

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