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Branding key to differentiation ... and success

BY SAMANTHA NOLAN Modified: July 31, 2012 at 9:29 am •  Published: July 31, 2012

Meet Sonya!

Sonya came to me as a fairly recent graduate with a BFA degree in interior design and three years of design experience working for a national retailer’s interior design division. Sonya’s goal was to secure an interior designer, project manager, or design assistant role with a residential or commercial architecture or interior design firm.

Original strategy …

Sonya’s original résumé lacked creativity and certainly did nothing to reinforce her design orientation. The black and white look, the sans serif font, and the overall novice construction was pigeonholing Sonya into an “entry-level” box and not letting her personality shine through.

The content on Sonya’s résumé was overly succinct and crowded with brief, fragmented sentences with no statement reaching more than 11 words in length and the majority averaging 5-7 words.

Sonya’s résumé also opened with a self-serving objective statement which did not differentiate her from the many other interior designer candidates seeking to gain entry into the field and also claiming design, client relations, and project management skills.

New strategy …

Sonya’s new résumé needed to show some style, uniqueness, and personality. In the sea of competitors she would face in the trendy and growing market of Houston, she would have to stand out in order to garner the interest of her target audience.

To ensure she did just that I created a unique design that looked more like a magazine article than a traditional résumé, creating a cover letter to introduce her résumé with the bold headline of “Interior Designer with proven strengths in project management and relationship cultivation.”

Followed by a brief four-paragraph cover letter, Sonya’s introduction was strong and differentiated her from the pack through content and formatting.

Moving to her résumé, created as page two of her presentation, I developed a unique design using a two-column format. In the main column I placed the majority of Sonya’s content, explaining her past positions in full, including her current involvement in the field as a private interior design consultant.

Far removed from the content on her original résumé, Sonya’s new résumé really explored her roles and the contributions in each, being sure to quantify results whenever possible and appropriate.

For example, the responsibilities covered in one section on Sonya’s original résumé read:

Provide design solutions, direction, and color concepts.

Select fabrics, finishes, furniture, and equipment.

Create furniture layouts, custom window treatments, paint schedules, elevations, and renderings.

Assemble and conduct client presentations.

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