Graduate Directory

The making of perfect resume

7 min read

  • Client
    • FAST-NU, Islamabad
  • Artifacts
    • Field research
    • Requirement definition
    • Concept visualization
    • Content strategy
    • Information architecture
    • Prototypes
    • Print design
    • Usability inspection
    • Photography


Mistake uno: We said Yes!


Sometimes you have to say no to a lot of good things in order to be able to say yes to a lot of great things. This was not one of those times. We had to design the graduate directory of FAST-NU, Islamabad. Directory had mainly resumes of graduating students which was used to be distributed in the industry for job placements. There were three directories in total, one for a school: FAST School of Computing, School of Engineering and School of Management. The goal was to design resume in a way that one can easily scan it in no time. We made it possible effectively by considering variety of content related to every student.

It shouldn’t have had to be a tedious task. Little did we know that the content, which would be provided by the institution, would be gigantic fields of errors. The reason being: students made their own resumes without any formal guidelines. Before we started, the important thing was to have consistent, clean data so we can run our design process over it. They provided us content in multiple templates and the challenging task was to clean it, make it consistent and migrate it to new template designed by us.



Initially, we planned to write a script and automate the cleaning and migration process. But then we came to know that it would take far more time to just design a script that can handle worst cases such as that one. So, we stuck to manual processing. Starting with student’s avatar and name, we divided resume into three major columns. First for personal and official details, second: to display section names and third: column for details of sections. These columns made a one pager resume that covers almost every aspect of a grad student and one can easily scan it at a glance.


Selecting a perfect tool


After finalizing prototype, the question arises that which tool is best for executing final design? InDesign, Corel, Illustrator or any other? We received hundreds of files in .doc and .pdf and were looking for a tool that can be useful in all situations.

We go to basics and select Microsoft Word. It was a weird decision but the right one. It was the simplest and fastest tool in that situation. The navigation was fast, content migration, editing was much easy and rendering for print was also impressive.


Conquering Mount Edit


Then we started editing and migrating 400+ resumes. And although it was dry work, we got to enjoy it. Editing and reediting and re-reediting, was oh so fun. Then the photos of the respective students came in and they were not up to the standard of the designed book. So we planned a reshoot for the students and placed their photos in their resumes.



Just say no


As the deadline was dead near, we got a call that more content was going to come in which meant more updates. We had to be a little lenient because it involved students and their careers. But nevertheless, once you give in a little, advantage is taken of that action and that little updates became a lot of updates. We managed to create a win-win situation.


"Helping client in a difficult situation makes your relation immortal."

- Ovyce Ashraph

Ship it before we rip it


In the last days of forwarding the final draft of directories, we were out of our minds. But we finally went across the tunnel and into the light. We sent a big NO MORE CONTENT WILL BE ACCEPTED email. Prototype was already approved. Final pictures were put in, all sections combined, proofread twice, last rechecks were made, and then it was sent for printing.



Just a pinch of wisdom


Saying no is hard but sometimes compulsory. Something we already knew was to give our best. People said “mukao” (which means just do it without putting much effort in Urdu) but we knew that an experience can never achieve its full potential without focusing on every detail. It’s the detail that makes a difference between good and great experience.

We always give our best or we don’t do it. And every time we find humor in a difficult situation, we win!




Going into the unknown is ridiculously scary and fun. Graduation directory was not something that was our niche and yes, we have said that a gazillion times that we should have said no; but if we had to do it again, we would. Because we had to learn to say no but most importantly the book’s design, the solution is something we are proud of and we can show it to everybody and say this is who we are.




As a career services manager, one of the tasks assigned to me required compilation of graduate directories. I understood it was all the more important that the directory not just reached all potential employers but also created a lasting impression. When I came in contact with the team here, my first interaction with them gave me the confidence that the project was in the right hands. Their professional attitude, commitment, and work ethics were more impressive than I can say for most professionals.




Working on project like this gave me an insight to the backstage work. It gave me a chance to interact with stake holders of both client and creative side. I got to know how creative briefs translate in real projects. For undertaking such a project, one should have patience and consistency.




Great design is timeless. We focused on layout and the content because it’s important the clarity of content, so people can read what they want in no time. Removing extra elements, right context and proper layout can make any existing raw design to good design. The solution itself wasn't a tough task but applying that solution was really tedious. After this project, we concluded that sometimes very naive tools and technology can solve very hard problems.

I cannot say whether it’s a great design or not but it’s the time that will tell the timelessness of it.



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Made with ♥ in Islamabad.