As a graphic designer, your resume is practically a piece of your portfolio. It’s the first impression you’ll make on a potential employer, so you’ll want to make sure your design skills shine.
However, a good graphic design resume can’t just have a dynamic look. It has to have dynamic content as well. Follow the tips below to create a resume that’s more likely to get you the interview.
Your graphic design resume, online portfolio and even your social media accounts all advertise the same thing: you. Making sure the message across all of these platforms is uniform will create your own brand and will help you look like a more professional, well-put-together candidate. In addition, companies aren’t the only entity that can have a logo. Create a personal logo to stamp everywhere an employer might look. Not only will you look more professional, but the visual repetition will help your name stick in a recruiter’s mind.
You can look to templates for inspiration if you need it, but in the end, you need to put your own design style on your graphic design resume. Putting your personality into your resume gives an employer an immediate sense as to whether you’d be a good fit for the company personality and culture. Though this could mean that you’d be passed over for some jobs, in the end, you’ll wind up being at a company that values your style.
Tools of the Trade
While showing off your ability to set tabs and create text boxes might be ideal for someone applying for a job in a conventional office setting, it’s not the kind of design skill that graphic design employers are looking for. Close out of Microsoft Word and instead use programs like Illustrator, Photoshop or InDesign to create your resume. Not only will you have more freedom to create a unique layout, but you’re also more likely to grab the attention of anyone who sees it.
Just don’t get too carried away with your design. Keep it to one page of the standard size. Remember that your graphic design resume is still exactly that: a resume. If potential employers can’t figure out what’s going on in a few seconds, they’ll likely pass over your document for the next one in the pile.
Color Me Employed
While black and white may be the most professional choice for job applicants in other fields, the field of graphic design almost demands a more creative approach. Feel free to use color on your resume, but use it wisely. You may also consider using colors as long as they will still read well if the graphic design resume is printed out in grayscale.
Content Is Key
Once you manage to catch a hiring manager’s eye with your killer design skills, you’re going to need to hold that interest with equally compelling content. If a hiring manager can’t learn why you could be a good fit for the company in six seconds or less, chances are your graphic design resume will find its way into the trashcan.
Start with current, correct contact information. Nothing would be more frustrating than to miss an employment opportunity because you forgot to use your new cell phone number or because there was a typo in your email address. Unless you’re using the postal service to send in your resume, including your house address won’t be necessary. Here’s the information you do want to include:
Summarize, Don't Objectify
The modern resume omits the “objective” section. The obvious objective of a resume is to procure employment, which makes having a section for you to spell that out a waste of time and space. Instead include a more helpful and productive section called the “resume (or professional) summary.”
The resume summary section is a great way to provide a hiring manager with a quick snapshot of your skills and allows you to offer some prose as to why you’d be a good fit for the company. This section should be rewritten to fit each job you apply for. You want to highlight experiences and skills that specifically relate to the qualifications the employers state they are looking for in a candidate. Include specific tasks you completed while at different jobs, not just the job title you held. Mention applicable skills you have developed as a result of your previous employment. You could also detail any awards you’ve won that are relevant to the job you’re applying for.
This is a great example of a solid graphic design resume summary. Notice it’s not just a written-out version of the jobs that are listed later in the resume but an account of the specific experience and skills gained throughout a career.
Even if you don’t yet have any prior work experience, you can still detail the skill sets you’ve developed during your coursework and any personal attributes that are relevant to the job. For example, if you’re applying for a job designing graphics for a morning news show that is produced overnight, mentioning that you do your best work at night because you are naturally nocturnal could make a hiring manager want to take a longer look at your resume.
Experiences of Your Lifetime
Your experience section shouldn’t just be a dry list of the jobs you have had. Each job listing should also include a bulleted list of your duties and experiences while at that job.
Take the time to make sure your descriptions include the exact phrases that explain the desired qualifications from the job posting. Don’t assume the hiring manager will take the time to figure out how your experience at a past job has prepared you for the job you’re applying for. Spell it out clearly in your descriptions. Many companies use automated screening software to help sort through resumes, looking for words and phrases that match their job posting. If the company you’ve applied for uses software like this and your graphic design resume doesn't have those key words in it, your application may not be seen at all.
Also make sure to include dynamic action words in your descriptions. Certain words and phrases can’t help but paint a picture of a capable and proactive employee. It goes without saying that these descriptions should include skills that a good graphic designer should have. Make sure to mention your proficiency with specific design software, your layout and typography skills, your freehand drawing techniques, your color theory ability and your creativity, for example.
If you don’t have actual job experience, you can list out different experiences that have helped you develop key skills. You should still have a design portfolio after graduating from your course of study, so talk about the skills you developed while you were creating that portfolio. You can also enter design contests or offer to do design work for local businesses for free or at a reduced rate. The experience you’ll be able to list on your resume will be well worth the tradeoff.
An education section can be an opportunity to make your qualifications shine, especially if your work experience section doesn’t yet have much in it at this point in your career. In this section you want to list the obvious details, like what your degree was in, the name of the school and where it is and your GPA if it's a really good one. You can also include any awards and honors your received while in school, and any clubs or student organizations you belonged to, as long as they're relevant to the job.
Showcase Your Showcase
Providing the URL to your online portfolio is of course absolutely necessary for a graphic design resume. You might consider piquing some interest with a section that contains a few blurbs about especially interesting things in your portfolio. Have you designed an app? Give a few details about it. Have you designed the packaging for a product label? Mention that here. Did you work on the layout of a cookbook? Tell which one. Make the hiring manager want to go check out your work.
If you have earned achievements and awards that haven’t found a place anywhere else in your resume, create a section to list them out. Include awards you’ve earned, certifications you’ve completed, clubs and organizations you belong to, conferences you’ve attended and other things of this nature. As always, make sure the things you list are relevant to the job you’re applying for. This list should be updated for each job you apply for.
A winning graphic design resume will have both an interesting visual design and quality content for an employer to review. Make the most of your six-second impression by following the guidelines above, and increase your chances for getting an interview.