Iterative Design – of a resume

The term iterative design is commonly used in professional circles; defined as “a methodology based on a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process.”  (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

The iterative design process also has great value to your job or internship search!  One of the most important tools you have in this process is your resume.  In iterative design parlance, your resume draft is the prototype of your “product”; the content of job descriptions in your field(s) of interest is the test; and your analysis of those descriptions leads to further efforts to refine your document for your target audience.  By consciously going through this process, I believe that you can develop the strongest possible document for your search.

A resume by its nature is a recitation of your history – your education, experiences, acquired skills and how you’ve applied them, and most likely brief descriptions of projects or responsibilities.  You may have a very nice prototype prepared – lots of details, well laid out, chronologically organized, easy to read.  However, when you’re reaching out and applying to opportunities of interest, it’s quite possible that your history may not be a direct match to your interest area (well, unless you’re an accounting student with accounting internships who wants to be an Accountant – and in that case, good for you!)  It’s failing the testing stage – and you likely won’t move through any application software or website.

If you think, however, that your major doesn’t match your future job title – and that is certainly not a requirement! – then you may be very well served by seeking out positions against which to analyze your resume – use Handshake, other job boards or a web scraping job site like (check out the Advanced Search feature!) to find a few opportunities that interest you.  Closely review the responsibilities and qualifications of your selected role.  If, for example, a position requires a candidate with strong written and verbal communication skills, you’ll want to go to your draft and ask yourself, “Have I included information on how I demonstrated and applied my communication skills wherever possible on my document?”  If you have descriptions of a course project – have you detailed how you developed and presented that project in 20 minutes using a succinct 15-slide presentation deck and to an audience of 30+ students and faculty?  If you used email or any other kind of collaborative software (Google Docs might be one to consider) as a significant communication tool in working on a team project, have you included that?  Find opportunities to integrate content to fill in any information gaps, refining your document as you make those edits!

And, like any good design (an iPhone or a Maserati may come to mind, vroom vroom!), your resume is never “perfect” and it’s never done.  There is no final grade, despite what might have happened in Writing Sem!  Keep iterating, and it will get better and better!   I hope you see the value of design thinking in your resume drafting, or perhaps this just gives you language to frame what you’ve already been doing.  Regardless, if you’d like assistance in this process given your individual resume and interest areas, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of us in Career Services!


By Jamie Grant
Jamie Grant Senior Associate Director, Engineering Jamie Grant