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Create a Resume That Wins the Job

Loft Resumes uses graphic design to give the traditional resume a makeover.

We’ve seen a few creative approaches to jobseeking over the last few years. We’ve seen video resumes that go above and beyond and we’ve read about Alec Brownstein who landed a job at an advertising firm after running search ads that targeted his favorite creative directors. But for most jobseekers, the tools of the trade remain pretty simple: a cover letter and a black-and-white resume listing their skills, education and experience. They might play with the fonts a bit, and they might use the layout to make the most important elements stand out and easy to read, but for the most part, a resume has always been a pretty simple tool.

That might change though if Dodd Caldwell and Emory Cash have anything to say about it. The designers from Greenville, South Carolina, have launched Loft Resumes, a service that lets job seekers turn a standard list of skills and experience into a marketing brochure designed to land an interview. The extra design elements, they argue, can have a dramatic effect on the response rate.

“I had a friend who hired a graphic artist to design his resume, and he ended up getting a lot of interest from employers mainly because of the visual appeal of his resume,” Caldwell told Fast Company. “At the same time, my cofounder was designing his wife’s resume and realized that when he was searching for great looking resumes as guides, he couldn’t really find anything.”

The pair collected fifteen designers and asked them to produce a range of 50 different layouts that portray skills and knowledge. The designs they created are colorful and they’re certainly broad. “Urban Shadow” looks relatively austere, the kind of resume an attorney might send to a law firm or a financial analyst to a bank. “The Dialogue Mind,” however, uses a giant speech bubble to highlight the jobseeker’s goal and turns the education section into a headline. The page looks more like a newsletter than a resume and it’s easy to see it being used by an editor pitching for a job at a magazine or a copywriter hoping to impress an ad firm.

Unique Resumes from Templates

Jobseekers choose the design they want then upload the content. Loft Resumes’ graphic artists then custom-typeset the words. Buyers can ask for a couple of revisions and at the end of the process, they receive a PDF of their resume with a matching cover letter that can be edited in Word or Pages. Because the content of each resume is always different, designers might have to alter their designs slightly to make the words fit.

“No two resumes look exactly the same,” Caldwell told us.

A single page resume costs $99 with a $10 fee for each additional page. Jobseekers can also pay extra for an expedited service, for custom colors and for additional revisions. But the price hasn’t stopped people from signing up. Within a couple of weeks of the service’s launch at the end of February, they had already sold more than 30 resumes for professions ranging from Game Modeling and Engineering Sales to Communication Director and Chief Financial Officer.

For those jobseekers, the benefits of a designed resume are clear. If they’re applying for a job online, a colorful page, carefully designed and laid out might just capture a bit more attention than the usual 30 seconds that employers give candidates. And if they’re bringing their resume to an in-person interview at a job fair or a meeting, the page looks memorable and valuable enough to hold onto.

“It shows that you’ve gone the extra mile and really care about how you present yourself,” says Caldwell.

The resumes even impress database software — or at least they don’t confuse them. According to Loft Resumes, the PDF design files can be parsed in databases, allowing the keywords to be extracted so that the resumes can later be retrieved and viewed by the employer.

If you’re looking for a job, coughing up the $99 the service demands for a designed resume (and the $85 or so you might also want to pay for a professional resume writer, a service that Loft Resumes doesn’t supply), might well be a good investment.

But even for freelancers who are more likely to be looking for jobs than a job and trying to impress leads rather than win over employers, the company still has plenty to offer —not just because clients do sometimes want to see a resume, and not just because it turned to freelance designers to supply and typeset the resumes. (The company currently has all the freelancers it needs but says that might change as it grows.) Loft Resumes also offers a lesson in spotting a flaw, seeing an opportunity and turning freelance work into a scalable business.

What Loft Resumes Can Do For You (Other Than Improve Your Resume)

  • Sell your resume designs (when the company grows.)
  • Inspire you to redesign your bio page design.
  • Prompt you to outsource parts of your work to create a scalable, passive business.

A Scalable Business Model for Freelancers

Dodd Caldwell and Emory Cash have managed to build a business by applying their skills in color and design to an important tool that more usually relies on text and layout. They spotted a flaw in jobseekers’ self-marketing and created a service that plugs that gap. But jobseekers aren’t the only people whose marketing is less than perfect, and it might equally be true that your bio page or portfolio is similarly lacking in impressive design.

But the most important way that Loft Resumes can help freelancers is by providing a business model for service providers who want to do more than be hired from job to job. It’s notable that although both founders are designers themselves, they turned to fifteen other designers to produce unique resume layouts for them. That gives their products a broader range of styles but it also gives the business both passive revenue and scalability. Dodd Caldwell and Emory Cash can make money by selling templates and passing them on to their designers to typeset, and they can grow by turning to more designers. It’s a model also used by LookBetterOnline.com, a company that sends online daters to a network of photographers around the country while taking a cut of the set fee.

If you can find a way to adapt that outsourcing model to your own services, you might just have a profitable alternative to freelancing. And if you can’t do that, you can always ask Loft Resumes to help you find a job.

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