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, Texas, 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 4-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.
Assist and supervise in installation of furnishings.
Develop budget.

But on her new résumé this same experience, presented in a much stronger and robust manner, in part read:

“Consult with clients to provide design concepts and direction, offering solutions that meet existing needs and are aligned with design preferences. Work with clients in assessing spaces, traveling to their homes to gain a sense of their personal style, space restrictions, and design opportunities. Review floor plans while designing spaces, calculating furniture placement, and identifying opportunities for custom pieces and accessories. Produce client presentations to communicate suggested furnishings, draperies, paint colors, accessories, and flow. Assist in the development of design budgets and present solutions to achieve goals within financial parameters. Oversee the installation of furnishings, providing clients with access to reputable vendors—painters, carpenters, refinishers, and upholsterers—to support the design process.”

In addition, Sonya’s two statements which related to accomplishments, were expanded to 6 fully explored bullet points which really were able to communicate the value Sonya offered.

Perhaps most striking on Sonya’s new résumé were her portfolio examples placed in the right-side column of her résumé. These samples were selected based on the skills shown in her design and artistic abilities, but also because they explored the commercial side of Sonya’s experience, an area of interior design which she was very interested in.

Overall Sonya’s new résumé was light years ahead of her original version in both content and design and it would prove to serve her well in the highly competitive market she was entering.

Sonya’s Results…
As with many clients, I initially heard back from Sonya when she received her résumé and then not again until she was seeking an update. Sonya recently contacted me to update her résumé and told me of the results her new résumé helped her achieve. She did indeed secure what she coined “my dream job at my dream company” but unfortunately her current employer is closing, hence the reason she contacted me to update her résumé. With Sonya’s most recent experience however she will have no problem getting the attention of her target audience and I’m excited to be partnering with her once again.

View Sonya’s before and after résumé on

Samantha Nolan is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer and owner of Ladybug Design, a full-service résumé-writing firm. Do you have a résumé or job search question for Dear Sam? Reach Samantha at For more about Sam's résumé writing services, visit or call 614-570-3442 or 1-888-9-LADYBUG (1-888-952-3928).