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Mind Your Business: Recession-Proof Resumes

Did you know your resume sucks? Well, it does, and Mark Simon has the cure.


Look out! Don't look at your investments! It's not the sky that's falling, it's your savings!

If you're lucky, your only worry is the current state of your portfolio because too many people are now struggling with finding a job while others are losing theirs.

The country, and the world, is in the middle of a major recession. With millions of people out of work and competing with you for the few available jobs, you need a resume that will work for you.

However, the purpose of you resume is not to get you a job. The purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. Once you get in, then landing the job is up to you.

To write a resume that will land you an interview you need to forget everything you've been taught about resumes.

The commonly accepted rules of writing resumes are all wrong. Common sense says that most teachings about resumes don't work.

This title layout SUCKS!

The Top of Your Resume

When I speak at events from Los Angeles to Orlando, from Mexico to England, I often ask the attendees what they think is the most important element on top of the resume. "Your name," is the answer I most often hear. And it's wrong!

This title layout ROCKS!

I'm never looking to hire a John or a Patricia. Your name doesn't matter when I'm looking at resumes. (If I am looking to hire a Tony Bancroft or a Glen Keane, you can guarantee THEY won't need a resume.)

The most important element on top of a resume is a job title. And not just any job title, but the job you are applying to get. Common sense and experience says that when I am looking for a new storyboard artist, I go through my pile of resumes and I only pull out those resumes with Storyboard Artist as the title. Without a job title, your resume won't even be looked at.

Unfortunately, around 95% of the resumes we get do not have job titles. That means you can increase the odds of your resume working for you by over 20 times simply by adding a job title.


A resume is an ad for your work abilities. And much like a successful ad for a movie accurately represents the movie, your resume should properly represent you.

Have you ever gone to a movie and expected it to be funny because of the advertising only to realize it wasn't a comedy? It might have been a great movie, but because it wasn't what you expected you probably hated it.

The same goes for your resume. You can use humor, but only if you are truly a funny person. We do have more leeway to have fun with our resumes in the creative arts, so humor can work.

When I was designing features over 20 years ago, I used humor all over my resume. Everyone has worked on projects that they are not that proud of. The title of one of my not-so-amazing movies is Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity. Acknowledging that I worked on that B-movie, I changed the title "Experiences" on my resume to read "Experiences I Admit To."

I always thought the phrase "References upon request" on a resume was ridiculous. Of course you will give an employer references if they ask for them. You don't need to state that! (We call that the "Duh" factor.) To make a statement (albeit a funny one), I wrote on the bottom of my resume "References Upon Subpoena."

I got a call from a producer who wanted to meet me simply because I was bold enough to have humor on my resume... and that lead to a job.

It worked for me. You just have to be honest with yourself on whether it can work for you. If you're not naturally funny, don't put humor on your resume.

What Comes First?

I also see education listed first on resumes. Don't. Your experience always means more. I've worked on over 2,800 productions. In 23 years, I've never even been asked if I have an education (I do). Start with your experience.

I know this may surprise you, but no one likes reading resumes. In fact, no one ever reads resumes. We only glance at them. If you don't make it quick and easy for us (us meaning all employers) to find the information we need, we won't see your important information.

Some of you may disagree with these suggestions. That's fine. You just won't find a job as fast with your existing resume.

Years ago, Jeanne, my wife and co-writer of our book Your Resume SUCKS!, applied for a job at Disney. Disney Human Resources had stated that they would not accept resumes that were not written in the standard format. We didn't believe them and Jeanne used her resume written our way. Disney never questioned her resume, and she did get the job.

What Does H.R. Say?

We presented samples of our resume process to H.R. executives and business owners outside of the entertainment industry to make sure our suggestions will work for anyone. Human resources executive Faith Powers says, "This will work for anyone looking for employment from executives to office clerks. Mark and Jeanne have brought resume writing to a new level."

We also showed our resume samples to Marty Sherman, SVP of Rainforest Café. He oversees four major restaurants and has hundreds of people who work for him. His response was simple. "This is the way resumes should be written."

Your Resume SUCKS! by Mark & Jeanne Simon and James Irvine, DM.

The co-author for our book was Dr. James Irvine, a human resource specialist for Nissan USA. He brought decades of research and experience hiring thousands of people per year to our own research. There's a reason Jim wanted to offer his help. After graduating from college, Jim looked for the right job for more than two years with no success. I rewrote his resume according to our common sense resume strategies. He got his dream job within three weeks.

"A resume is a work of art," says Irvine. "And like all art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The issue is who is 'beholding' your resume and do they see it as 'beautiful.' If there is a 'right' way or a 'wrong' way to write a resume, I'm not really interested in it. What does interest me is what works. Academic and theoretical debates are boring... results are energizing."

Irvine continues, "I have spent hundreds of hours researching, discussing and debating the correctness of formats, fonts, and punctuation. Likewise, I have spent thousands of hours with 'real-live' managers reviewing resumes and making interviewing and hiring decisions based on our impressions of resumes like yours. You may not agree with our suggestions or ideas, and that doesn't bother us a bit. However, our concepts have, do and will work. For many, the issue often boils down to the question: Do you want to be 'right' or do you want to be 'effective?'"

The goal of this article is not to make your resume right, but you make your resume effective.

Mark Simon, Jeanne Simon and James Irvine, DM are the authors of the book Your Resume SUCKS!, which busts over 40 resume myths such as use of Objective Statements, Dates, Order of Experience, Hobbies, Fonts, Fancy Paper and more. Mark owns Animatics & Storyboards, Inc and A&S Animation, Inc. and Jeanne has produced TV series for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and TNN. They have landed thousands of gigs with their resumes and have hired thousands of peoples from reading resumes. Your Resume SUCKS! may be found online (print and PDF editions) at and on