Let me tell you a story about . . . TV corporate logos. You know, those short little bursts of sight and sound at the end of a television show, telling you what studio produced them? Short, forgettable little things, right?
Wrong. From the '60s to the '90s, a bunch of TV logos were produced, and in wide circulation, that literally scared children. To this day, people tremble in fear at the memory of them. They were an example of something with good intentions that went horribly wrong.
They also provide a valuable lesson to all of us in the importance of knowing and catering to your target audience – say, for instance, a potential employer looking at your resume.
When talking about the legendary scary logos, the first thing you have to consider is what made them scary. Let's look at a reel of some of them, shall we? (Warning: May awaken childhood traumas!) They're here. Watch them if you dare.
Now, most of them combine startling camera movement (rapid zooms in and out) with bright-brighter-brightest colors and . . . well, unnatural synth sounds. Remember, when a lot of them were done, the synthesizer was a brand-new instrument, a toy. So the people who made these logos were thinking, "Hey, let's go cutting-edge here! Let's combine the wild sounds of the brand-new electronic instrument with cutting-edge pop art graphics! We'll look cool! We'll look hip! We'll make an impression!"
And then, they went and attached these cutting-edge, startling, knock-you-out-of-your seat logos with . . . children's shows. Yes, entertainment designed for the littlest ones. That Paramount logo with the music that sounds like it came from a slasher film? It ran at the close of the Brady Bunch. The Rankin-Bass one, with the CRASH of electric guitar accompanying just-plain-ugly graphics? On classic holiday fare like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
And then, there's the granddaddy of them all, the Screen Gems logo, commonly known as the S From Hell. This consists of electronic sounds that remind you of screeching demons accompanied by two lines that come together to form what seems to be the Eye of Sauron. (Um, not that this was my personal logo nemesis when I was a child or anything. Nope.) It ran on all kinds of kid-friendly fare, from The Flintstones to The Monkees. It also caused so much trauma that an indie filmmaker was moved to create a short film about it, featuring interviews with "logo survivors."
So what went wrong here? These people who wanted to impress others with how hip, cool, daring and cutting-edge they were took their show to entirely the wrong audience. Instead of getting praise for being edgy . . . they traumatized little kids. Thus, their efforts completely backfired on them. (Oh, their work became legendary, all right . . . but for all the wrong reasons.)
Now, let's apply this mindset to your job search, shall we? Say you have a resume that's designed to show employers how cutting-edge you can be – by detailing every single thing you've ever done. You cram it full of lengthy descriptions of that college student film you worked on – even if it's 25 years later and you've held several professional positions since then. You list every computer program you ever learned – including the obsolete ones that haven't been used in years.
And then you REALLY go for the gusto with the presentation. Maybe do it in Word with an embedded Excel spreadsheet. Put it on hot pink paper, find the fanciest script fonts you can. Maybe even enclose it in an impressive binder, or fold it into origami! You can't go wrong, right?
WRONG. Like the makers of the traumatizing logos, you're not thinking of who's ultimately going to be receiving your product on the other end. Recruiters, human resources staff and managers are looking for something simple, direct and understandable.
They want a concise summary of what you're all about, where you've come from, and where you've been – not a brick-thick autobiography. (At best, your resume should tell a story. However, that doesn't mean that story should be as long as War and Peace.) They want keywords that will jump out at them, not paragraph after paragraph summarizing every skill you've ever had.
They also look at an awful lot of these things, so they want them to be easy on the eyes. So scrap that hot-pink paper and those fancy fonts. Put your print resume on clean, sharp-looking paper, use an attractive but simple typeface. You don't want a potential employer, eye-weary from reading a ton of these things, to see every little super-fancy script S as – yes, you got it – an S From Hell.
Just like those logos made kids run away from the television screaming, an overloaded resume can make an employer turn away from you – even if you've got exactly what they're looking for.
So, remember – keep it simple and direct, and you will score a hit with your target audience, your potential employer. And nobody will be remembering your work for all the wrong reasons many years later. – Bonnie Walling