Write Winning Resumes

Writing a Design Resume

Writing a resume for a job in a design studio is different than applying for a corporate manager position. Aside from wanting to know the usual list of previous employment and education, design employers look for clues that the applicant has the skills that designers need and will fit compatibly on the design team.  It’s not just what you say, but how you present it.  

Here are 10 tips on preparing a resume that works:

1. Do your homework first.

Check out the design studio’s website and do a google search to look at the firm’s design style, past projects, industry recognition, staffing, philosophy, etc.   This will reveal a lot about whether you are a good fit for the studio, and vice versa.

2. Include a Cover Letter

Include a brief cover letter with your resume, even if you are sending an unsolicited application or responding to an online job posting. A personalized letter is not only polite, it indicates that you specifically want to work there, and are not blanketing the entire design world with your resume.  If you have been referred by someone known to the firm, include that too.

3. Tell Them Where You Worked

 Provide a career chronology and dates of employment.  Also cite your primary duties and name some of the key accounts you worked on. If you were freelancing, name some of your clients and the scope of your assignments.  

4. PDF It!

Submit your resume in pdf format, not as a Word doc.  Design directors are as mindful of how your resume looks as what it says.  The way you lay out and organize information shows your attention to visual details.  Prepare your resume in InDesign or Illustrator, and send it as a pdf so that it will appear the same across all platforms. 

5. Tout Your Computer Skills

List your computer skills and the graphic programs you have mastered.  Motion graphics, GIF creation, coding, After Effects, Word Press, InDesign, Photoshop, etc. – increasingly, graphic design demands computer knowledge.  Don’t list your computer skills as a footnote; feature them prominently on your resume.

6. Poofread, Proofreed, Proofread

Don’t rely on spell check to catch your misspellings, typos, dropped words, and poor grammar.  Claiming that you are a “visual” person, not a writer, is no excuse.  Mistakes suggest that you’re inattentive to details, sloppy, lazy, and/or ignorant. If proofreading is not your strength, ask someone for help.

7. Fonts Matter

Choice of font reveals a lot about your design judgment. So much of editorial design involves determining an appropriate font, type point size, column width, position of headings, etc. to help readers navigate through the page and understand the intended hierarchy of information.

8. Portfolio – Show Your Best

When assembling your portfolio, choose quality over quantity.
Typically, portfolios include six to eight examples of your work.  Pick ones that show your design skills and thoughtful problem-solving ability.  

9. Keep It Simple

Don’t try to be too cute, gimmicky or clever.  There is a time and place to be clever, and your resume isn’t one of them.  Skip the smiley faces, the multiple fonts, the wild use of color.  Successful design studios support themselves by producing well-conceived and executed work for paying clients.  What hiring managers want to see is that you understand the purpose of your assignment and provide an appropriate design solution.

10. What’s Your Number?

Don’t forget to include how to include your contact information. That may seem obvious but is omitted more often than you would think