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Meet Fannie Lam, Whose Innovative Resume Got Her Hired at Teletoon

November 26, 2014

Would bringing coffee and donuts to a job interview land you the job?

It worked for Fannie Lam, who cleverly transformed her resume and portfolio into a coffee and donuts replica. The model, which contained her portfolio within the coffee cup, a USB drive in one of the donuts and her resume in the other donut, wowed her interviewers and scored her a graphic design position at Canada’s animation station Teletoon. Not surprisingly, her unique job seeking approach continues to draw online attention years after she was hired. Here is Fannie’s inspiring story…

Story Resumes: What was the inspiration behind your unconventional resume and portfolio?

Fannie: A standard resume submitted online got me through the first round to an in-person interview and I wanted to do something unique for it to stand out. Prior to applying, I was illustrating for Facebook games at a small studio, and even before that, designing arcade games, so my portfolio was a hodgepodge of concept art, sketches and school work. I had a passable website but it lacked the appeal of a physical piece. So the coffee and donuts portfolio was my attempt to condense everything into a digestible little package (pardon the pun).

As for the idea, I graduated four years of design school with a degree plus a caffeine dependency. You know that piece of interview advice saying we should try to find a common thread with our interviewers? I thought bringing an offering of coffee and donuts would make a good conversation starter. Food is a universal language, right?

Story Resumes: Would you walk us through the creation process?

Fannie: I knew I wanted to incorporate a booklet of work, a USB key for motion pieces and my resume, so it fell on three pieces (one cup of coffee and two donuts). The coffee cup naturally fitted the booklet but I also prepared hard copies of my favorite projects in case they required further scrutiny. Making a dummy out of scrap paper first helped me figure out how to get the booklet inside.

I love puns and metaphors, so I think the donuts reflected my vernacular as a person. I had a short-lived hobby of sculpting miniature foods, which lent itself nicely to this project. They were formed from air dry clay and opened up to reveal the USB key and my resume as an infographic. I love minimal brands like Muji, so I was heavily inspired by their aesthetic for the exterior branding.

Story Resumes: How confident were you that your creative resume would get you noticed?

Fannie: Always have a Plan B in your pocket in case someone doesn’t “get” your initial idea–it happens. While I brought this portfolio, I also had a regular portfolio of hard copies, a standard resume, and a laptop to show my website, but thankfully the donuts did their job!

Story Resumes: What would you consider to be the most successful aspect of your out-of-the-box resume?

Fannie: I think people like seeing things that are creative or unique, but not so far removed that they can’t relate to it. At a glance, if you can identify the concept of a coffee and donut set, it doesn’t require extensive explanation. It has its own connotations.

Story Resumes: What would do differently if you took a similar approach again?

Fannie: If I took a similar approach again, I’d work on the technical execution (stock and finishes, details, and so on) and finesse the small details. Now that I’ve developed some other interests, like hand lettering, I’d want to incorporate those elements as well since the goal of the resume is to represent myself as a creative individual.

Story Resumes: Did your resume and portfolio get you noticed by anyone else in your job search process?

Fannie: The portfolio was carted off by my art director (I took that as a compliment) and for a while I was known as “the coffee girl” outside of my department, so it must have left some impression. I never did get the portfolio back, but I’ve shared the project digitally (with more details) on Behance and so far people seem to enjoy it!

Story Resumes: Finally, do you have any tips for jobseekers trying to stand out from the crowd?

Fannie: Know what type of job you are looking for and tailor your portfolio to appeal to those companies. Don’t jump on the bandwagon and print your resume on a pizza box or a chocolate bar, unless you can make a strong connection to yourself as a person. Make it unique to your passions because that’s the first impression you’ll leave and you’d want it to be something you can speak genuinely about!

Story Resumes: Fannie, we applaud your success and thank you for sharing your story with us. We wish you all the very best!

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