The Pocket Resume: Every Job Seeker “Must Have” This Fall

This fall, think small. Shrink your resume and take it everywhere you go.

It’s called a pocket resume and whether you print it on a business card or plop it on your iPhone with an app, it’s a great way to share some of your strengths.  Because of its diminutive dimensions, you won’t give most of your credentials when you give one away, but you will provide new connections and hiring managers with an appetizer size of your talents.

Whether you’re in the thick of a job hunt or just tip-toeing into a stealth search, a pocket resume could be a crucial piece for marketing yourself.  Why? Because it’s concise, discrete and easy to use at both career fairs and professional networking events.

And since those networking events kick into high gear in September and October, you may want to develop yours now before Labor Day and the launch of that busier season.

“It’s a great networking piece” and a way for people to be “clear, precise and memorable,” said Jorge Lazaro Diaz, a tech company director of operations and founder of Career Jockey. He wrote a three-part series on pocket resumes, and believes in their value.

Your pocket resume needs to dovetail with your elevator pitch, and may even have some of the same elements and phrases. But because it is the size of a business card, it really must be concise.  (If you’re using an app called Pocket Resume, you may be creating a full document that is too detailed for networking. Another form of “pocket resume” available online helps young job seekers keep basic information – like references phone numbers and their Social Security Number – and is useful for filling out applications, but not so useful for handing over during a job fair.)

So how do you create a pocket resume? Here’s a quick guide:

ON IT: “It really forces you to think what is absolutely critical,” he said.

Here’s his list:

  • Your phone number and email
  • Web address for personal website, blog or social media profile
  • Three titles that describe you and what kind of work you’re good at – and are seeking
  • Standout traits: bilingual, ability to create web apps, others
  • A short memorable summary, for example: “a one-man geek squad”

So what do you take off? Plenty. “You’ve got to cut, cut, cut” to make it concise, Diaz said.  That means you skip your work history and university degrees – unless of course they will open a lot of doors (think MIT for technologists or UCLA for filmmakers).

Other details:

Make sure the type size is at least 9 point so 50-something recruiters and others can read it. Diaz prefers one-sided matte finish format so the recipient can jot down something about you on the flip side. Other experts say using both sides to sell yourself may be a good idea.  If you’re in the arts or creative profession, you may want to express that a bit with the design or a tiny illustration.

It may be a good idea to test yours on a variety of people with different perspectives to make sure it works and really captures your essence, Diaz said.

At upcoming networking events, you want people to realize you’re an expert, he said, and to “put an impression in that person’s head” and hands with your pocket resume.


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About the Author: Vickie Elmer regularly contributes articles on careers and small business to the Washington Post. She has collected a slew of journalism awards. Her career and workplace articles also have appeared in Fortune, Parents, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the Financial Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday and many more. Elmer is the the co-owner of Mity Nice, a start-up that employs teens to sell Italian ice and sweet treats from a shiny silver cart in Ann Arbor, Mich. An active volunteer, she encourages kindness and creativity and embracing change, and she blogs and tweets under the moniker WorkingKind.

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