Custom Airbnb Resumé

New Piece

I entered a very competitive field.

Airbnb Resume ItemsFinding a new job is difficult for anyone, especially when the economy’s still suffering, but I can only talk about my own experience as a designer, and I have to say, it’s really difficult to get your foot in the door anywhere. One pretty serious mistake I made after graduating college was leaving my network behind.

So how does one move along without word of mouth or referrals? Well, you have to really impress someone, I think. So, I was browsing through a few job descriptions online, and this one for Airbnb really stood out to me. It was one of those descriptions that really excited my interest and felt like it was made for me. So I went into cover letter mode, and was going into great lengths to describe how and what I would do for their company when I just sort of said to myself, “do it, don’t say it.” I am a visual designer, after all. I think it’s more appropriate to show them what you can do, versus make them take your word for it. Of course, it’s terribly impractical to put this many hours of effort into what is essentially a job application, but when you think it’s the perfect job, and at an amazing company, I think it warrants the extra effort.

So for a little background, Airbnb is a VC backed start-up that has made a business of turning every day people into vacation home/room renters. Basically, if you have a spare room, you can make a little extra cash by renting it out to tourists and travlers. On the flip side, you as a traveler get the chance to stay with cool, local people, making your travels that much more engaging. I love the idea, and happen to love traveling, so it seems like a perfect arrangement for me.

As for their design, it is really exceptional. Their website is clean, simple, straightforward, and fun. Their mobile UI is so easy to use, and the graphics they’ve made to highlight special deals or places of interested are visually rich and engaging, and often verge on punning, which is delightful.

Pulling from my own love for vintage/retro graphics, and the company’s status as a travel company, I decided to create a resume that emulated the look and feel of 1960’s travel documents. Overall summary of items in resume package: Passport, Boarding Pass, Luggage Tag, and Safety Guidelines Card.

To start, I decided my own personal logo wasn’t going to evoke the right feeling for the piece, so created a logo for the project that I felt captivated the look of a mid 20th Century travel company. Of the many logos I referenced, the elements I liked and took for my own were those that were bold, monochromatic, usinga modern-looking font accompanied by a script, and somehow incorporated a wing-like graphic. My color scheme is my own, using a dark warm red and a light mossy green, which I thought worked well for the period piece I was creating (what, you think I should have gone with avocado, brown and orange instead? Don’t forget the goal is to suggest I have good taste).

First piece, the Passport, was the perfect vehicle for laying down my previous work experience, suggesting all the places I’ve worked previously are analogous to the places I’ve traveled to. It took a few google searches to find reference material for what passports in the 1960’s looked like. I finalized a version that had the US seal as a watermark on the interior pages, along with an archaic security pattern printed in the background. I also took a a new “passport-like” photo and edited it to look aged (the paper, of course, not my face). Remember how to bind the single signature book took a few times, but I think I finally got it. Making the rubber stamp graphics was definitely a challenge. Using a font and trying to adjust filters and brushes in photoshop was looking really photoshopped, so I instead hand typed out all the images, inked (and smudged) them, scanned them in, and edited a little more from there.

Next came the boarding pass. As they are more like evidence of where you will be traveling, I liked the idea of making it my objective statement, stating the “desired destination” as the position at their company, and the to and from fields being “from my current position to Airbnb”.

The luggage tag, which fits into the “travel documents” folder along with the boarding pass is actually a link to my portfolio website. I mean, my previous work is kind of like baggage, though with a more positive connotation.

Finally, the Safety Guidelines Card is probably the most adventurous of the bunch. Mimicking the safety cards you never actually bother to read when flying, my “guidelines” highlight my skills and interests in the same illustrative style as an old fashioned card. I think it most effectively describes me visually, in ways a typical cover letter never could.

The only thing I think that is missing from the total package is the air sickness bag. I’m sure you can imagine why I felt including that would send the wrong message. Now fingers crossed that they give me a call!



Kathleen Kowal Self PortraitI have lots of things on my mind all the time. I enjoy tweeting once in a while to get them off my chest, but sometimes 140 characters doesn’t cut it.

I spend my days working as a graphic designer, and spend my evenings being one too, along with a few other hobbies. I realized I didn’t have a great venue to talk about my work and get feedback like I used to back in college, so figured a blog was a good place to get back in the habit.

My auxiliary excuse for starting this blog is to practice focusing. As a writer, I tend to get side-tracked easily, digressing aimlessly as my stream of conscious wanders. In many ways, this parallels my own life, as I have spent all 26 of the 27 years of it trying a little bit of everything, soaking up the wonders that “variety is the spice of life” can offer. And it’s been fun. I enjoy the fact I can draw and paint in a wide variety of mediums, bind a book, knit a scarf, race a triathlon, sew a dress, bake and decorate cupcakes, design a logo, make dinner for hordes of people, start a business, play the cello (ok, well, I’m stretching it to say that I can actually play it), and etc. But as I get older and wiser, I’m noticing the trade-off in this lifestyle is that my peers are settling down into their careers with an almost hyper-focussed intensity on being really good at the thing they do, while I’m still splitting my time and focus between my many interests.

The reality is, I’m not likely to give up all my interests, but I am trying to cut down. This year has been the year of web design and cupcakes. I started a baking business in 2009, and could probably have jumped off and really committed to it 100%, maybe even opening my own bakery, but the thought of not doing design any more didn’t appeal to me. I really enjoy designing logos, branding, websites, posters, you name it. I’m in love with visual design and can’t see myself dropping it, even for my love of cupcakes.

But, since I already have a blog dedicated to baking, I will refrain from committing too many characters to it here. Instead, I will happily entertain you with news, related posts, projects, and whatever else catches my fancy that I find worth sharing. Keep in mind, I’m practicing focussing, so if you see something pop up that seems completely out of place, just try and remember that it all makes sense to me, somehow, and I will do my best to explain it as I go.