A Two-Sided Resumé?

Job seekers have been using creative methods to get noticed for years. In 2008, Joshua Persky an unemployed investment banker donned a sandwich board sign reading “Experienced MIT Grad for Hire,” and stood on the streets of New York to find employment. He gained national attention, free services from a career counselor, and ultimately a job. Others have been equally successful by delivering baked goods to potential employers, placing Facebook ads to gain interviews, and packaging their resumes in various formats to make a special impact. Some creative job seekers, on the other hand, are unsuccessful. In the article Unusual Job Search Tactics, Rachel Zupek of Career Builder reported that 28-year old Nathan Schwagier was reprimanded by security and directed to not call or enter the premises again when he tried the risky approach of posing as a flower delivery person to get face time with a potential employer.

Overlooking the inherent creativity in the question, 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. With sizable efforts in companies to go green and preserve our planet, wouldn't it make sense for employers to appreciate a two-sided resume over a standard two-page resume? Think of all the paper the client would save. And wouldn’t this client standout from the crowd? The question remained however, would my client standout like Persky or like Schwagier.

Posing this same question to the National Career Development Association (NCDA) LinkedIn group comprised primarily of career counselors, coaches and recruiters; a local Human Resource Management group with human resource professionals, temp agency managers and recruiters; and several local business groups, provided some valuable and enlightening feedback. The insights of these professionals formed the basis for the following recommendations in using both two-sided resumes and other creative approaches in job searching. Thank you to all those who agreed to be quoted.

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. With an ecologically friendly, two-sided resume in mind, a quick search of the Internet will reveal that many companies are talking about sustainability and green efforts, but only about 54% of executives feel their
companies are actually walking the talk, and about 78% cite a lack of return on investment in greener operations. This could mean you will be facing companies who are cutting edge and conscious of the efforts people take to reduce their carbon footprint, or you could be facing companies that just can’t afford to care.

Research through personal contacts, the Internet, informational interviewing or social networking will give you quite a bit of information on the industry or company you want to send a two-sided resume to, and will be helpful in deciding if a green approach is worthwhile. Zimenoff wrote, “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. She had lots of support on her position. 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.” He too had lots of support. As you can imagine you’ll find at least two sides to every creative effort you consider and the two-sided resume is no exception. What’s important in your research therefore is to uncover the brands, interests, missions and goals of the organizations you want to attract and use that information as a catalyst for a great creative approach. Being remembered for a simple ecological effort might or might not be the trick in getting noticed both for what you want to promote about yourself and what the company is looking to find.

Consider the downsides

Unfortunately, some creative approaches have downsides that are important to consider before using them for job searches or starting your business. Nathan Schweiger, our flower delivery guy above probably didn’t think about how a fake delivery might set off an office; especially one that had security within the building. In the same light, you might not have thought about the downsides of a two-sided resume or what happens when you take a long- standing tradition of “how a resume should be” and “tamper with it” to send an ecological message. You might feel, and rightfully so, that a company that does not see the value in a two-sided resume is not a place where you would want to work, and dismiss this downside without further thought. A little more thinking might get you to considering what Dennis Rouelle, a former recruiter and current career counselor at University of Connecticut, kindly shared. “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 2-sided.” She is honest in saying however, that she might have the same issue, remembering to copy both sides of the resume when preparing packets for the interview team.

Plan for the unexpected.

Considering the downsides helps you plan for the unexpected. You might, as Angela Shores a Licensed Professional Counselor and adjunct lecturer in North Carolina recommends, “put a small text footer with a remark about being green or conserving resources so employers readily know why [you used] the 2-sided and not a traditional approach.” Your footnote will help the interview team know that something went missing in the copying. Think of how many times your name will be spoken as everyone searches in vain for page two. You might even get a personal call to send another copy if everything else on your resume looks good. Having your name repeated over and over or getting a personal phone call wouldn’t be a bad outcome.

Recognize too, that your plans for the unexpected might send you another direction as well. You might instead spend a portion of your job search time in volunteer activities that demonstrate your commitment to the environment and help to build a network of contacts that share your zeal for a reduced carbon footprint. Or you might do both, use a two-sided resume and join a volunteer group where you can make a positive ecological impact on the environment. Either way, you will have choices that help to illustrate your valuable selling points to a potential employer.

Get noticed for the right things

If you are going to do something creative, do it well. Using creative approaches will get you noticed. Don’t waste the attention you generate on something for which you 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, in writing about an effective approach for a two-sided resume. 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. She illustrated this by comparing a chalk message and gift to a mock-up of a magazine that was “well-crafted” in both content and advertising when two different applicants were working to woo a creative director of an advertising agency. The “well-crafted” item was far more respected than the gift and chalk drawing.

Whether to use a two-sided resume is not a simple question. There is no correct resume method for every industry and every potential employer. There is no all-encompassing creative approach that works for every job seeker and every entrepreneur. Through individualized research you will however, find ways to market yourself while demonstrating knowledge of a company’s brand or mission. Considering the downsides of your actions will help you narrow your options to those that will best work for your application. Use your planning for the unexpected to enhance your creativity, not to limit it, and you will find beneficial and rewarding ways to brand and promote yourself during your job search and in your entrepreneurial work. Most importantly, whatever you choose to do, do it well. Don’t shortcut your efforts. Creativity can be an effective tool for setting yourself apart from others in both positive and negative ways. Choose the positive path.