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Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Career and job search help for creative professionals.

Blue Sky Resumes is a small team of professional writers and job search experts. We offer one-of-a-kind resumes, smart career advice and fantastic customer service. This is our blog.


One Thing You’re Probably Getting Wrong with Your Resume


Does your resume tell your whole story? After reading it, will people know the details of everything you’ve achieved?

If so, it’s probably not working.

I love to paint and I’m extremely detailed and anal when I do it. If I’m going to paint a piece of fruit, it’s going to have every single detail exactly right or I’ll tie myself in knots trying (hence, I am constantly tied in knots!) But I’m taking a painting class right now that is transforming the way I paint and funnily enough, the lessons I’m learning are the ones I teach my clients every day.

The class is called ‘How to Paint Fast, Loose and Bold’ and, as the title would suggest, it’s all about loosening up. We’re being encouraged to paint with big brushes and to eliminate the details that are not important while choosing the ones that are. In this way, we can convey all the important information about our subject while keeping the painting fresh and interesting.

This is exactly what I do when I write a resume, so I have no idea why it didn’t occur to me before to do the same while painting!

The key to a successful resume – and the thing most people get wrong – is that it’s not supposed to be your life story. It’s not supposed to tell people everything you did. It’s not supposed to talk about every project you worked on, every responsibility you held, every technology you ever used, every language you ever programmed in … if you try to convey all that, your reader will get lost in the weeds and your resume will be dull and long-winded.

Instead, your resume should be like the painting I featured in this post. It was painted by our teacher Patti Mollica. Click to enlarge it and notice how she conveys everything you need to know about the scene, but while using big bold strokes. Looking at that painting, you almost feel as though you’re there with her in Times Square on a rainy day. (Check out the rest of her paintings here. They’re pretty amazing).

If you use bold strokes on your resume, if you eliminate all the unnecessary detail and focus only on the important stuff, your resume will sing like that painting. So spend some time going over your resume looking for the unnecessary details. And if you’d like to know more about how to decide on what’s necessary and unnecessary, sign up for the Blue Sky free resume writing course, delivered by email. You’ll soon get the hang of it.

Read more about Resume Writing.

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About the Author

Louise Fletcher

Louise co-founded Blue Sky in 2002 after a career as an HR executive. Her industry experience includes music, video games, fashion and advertising. She lived and worked in the US for many years, but moved back to her native UK in 2012, where she now lives in the Yorkshire countryside. In addition to her full-time role with Blue Sky, she's a professional artist, so you can imagine why she couldn't answer the 'what do you do with your free time' question! Contact Louise by email.

4 comments on “One Thing You’re Probably Getting Wrong with Your Resume”

  1. Peggy says:

    Louise, I love the painting analogy too, and have often used it when working with clients! This is the first time I’ve seen your blog (via Tim’s Strategy link on Twitter). Great stuff – I look forward to more!

  2. Sandy says:

    Hi Louise,
    Your analogy about painting is great. I teach a writing class and I’ve used something similar with my students. I tell them that writing is like painting, but who wants to paint a picture and leave it in the closet? You have to learn to loosen up and not be afraid to share what you’ve written with others.

    I always enjoy your great articles!

  3. Anna Maria says:

    I just finished taking that class a few months ago as well, at the New York Open Center! I also paint and really enjoyed Patti’s style. What a coincidence (or perhaps a sign that I am researching the right resume service for me). 🙂 Great analogy!

  4. Thanks Sandy!

    Anna Marie, what a funny coincidence. Glad you enjoyed it as much as I did 🙂

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