Resume Tips for Designers and other Creative Fields

Resume Tips for Designers

1. Design Your Own

If you are a graphic designer, then you should design a custom resume. When I finished college, our professors had us create our resumes in Word and send them out to prospective employers. Needless to say, none of us received any employment offers. It is a good idea to design your own resume, because it shows off your design skills and lists your abilities and achievements in a creative way. If designing your own resume sounds like a daunting task though, remember that when doing your online tax return most job-hunting expenses qualify for a tax deduction, including professional resume prep services.

Resume Tips For Designers

2. One Page is Best

Keep your resume to a single page. this is sort of a design challenge. You have to incorporate all of your skills and abilities, and well as your achievements, into one single page. I have met and worked for employers that throw away resumes that are more than one page.

3.Internships & Experience

It is a good idea, if you are still in school, to work some sort of internship before seeking professional work. you are much more likely to find a job if you have some professional experience in the field, and know what is expected. Not only will freelance and internships give you experience, they will add professional pieces to your portfolio, as well as make your resume look good.

4.Proofread Proofread Proofread!

Proofread your resume. I am sorry that I even have to mention this, as it really depresses me that someone would actually not take the time to do this. However, i have had to review resumes a few times for an employer to help with the hiring process, and at least half of them had spelling and grammar mistakes riddled throughout the entire document. That’s right, half. The VP of the company told me to organize the resumes into two piles to weed out the newbies from the pros quickly. They were to be separated by proofread resumes and those riddled with mistakes. We dumped the ones with mistakes in the garbage. Just think about how many other employers do that. it is simple, easy and built into the software, so use it.

5.Don’t Forget The Cover Letter!

Include a cover letter, explaining who you are and why you would be good for the company, and what you can bring to the table. Employers are filling positions with designers that are well rounded, and will work well with their team. it is not acceptable to try to work this into your resume somehow. (I have seen this too.)

6. Follow Up!

When you send an employer your resume and cover letter, wait a day or two, and then follow up with a phone call. Most employers want to hear from people that are interested in the position, not simply throwing their resume out there hoping to get a bite. Take action, and you will be more likely to be reviewed.

7. Be Honest!

Do not over embellish your resume. you are supposed to look good, but never make claims about your abilities that aren’t true. Don’t lie and say that you have a Masters Degree, when you only have a Bachelors Degree. They do check these things and you will most likely become blacklisted. Don’t get me wrong, it is great to make yourself look good, but keep it truthful and within your abilities.

8. Promote Your Online Portfolio

Put a link to your portfolio site somewhere on the resume. If you don’t have one, It is a good idea to make one, or to have some place on the web for potential clients or employers to view your work. Have it up and working as much as possible.

9. When In Doubt, Research!

If you don’t know what to incorporate on a resume, it would be good to do some research online, or there are also workshops out there that will help you to strengthen your resume and make it professional and robust, to help you to get noticed. If you are a designer and aren’t sure, then you might want to learn, because a client may come along looking for someone to design a resume for them. It benefits both you, and your clients.

These are valuable resume tips for designers, and if you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have any trouble landing the design job of your choice. Employers will judge you based on your effort. They will also judge you on every mistake that you make. Have someone else look over your resume and make sure it is polished and highly professional.

  • Patrick

    “It benefits both you, and your clients.”

  • Lynn

    I guess he forgot to spell check his comment!!
    This article has great advice. I recently redesigned my resume and was looking for some examples for inspiration. Could you point people in the right direction for examples? I kept the resume to one page and created a 2 column grid but also had a horizontal direction as well. I saw a newsletter or brochure type layout and thought that was too specific but perfect for a position in that niche.

  • Patty

    I once got a resume from someone that said he was

    “reponsible for proofreading.”

  • BJMRamage

    I used Behance for resume design ideas as well as searched Abduzeedo, smashing Magazine and a few other designer sites I frequent. I could send mine to someone looking for how I just redesigned my resume (laid off 3 weeks ago and had not updated mine in 5+ years!!)

    • J Swanson

      I would be interested in seeing your redesigned resume.

      • jgeorge

        I would too.

        • BJMRamage

          so sorry to miss these replies.
          My resume can be seen here:

 you will see it below…not sure if it is still on the first page or not.
          I have yet to get it “live” in PDF format on the web.

  • Farhan Khan

    I have my online CV,pdf. I have deisgned it in Adobe Illustrator.

    • Chris Savoie

      Interesting approach. I personally don’t like the hand written font you chose but you get +1000 points for having the name Khan

  • B Ramamurthy

    I need a help. I do keep my resume with very little pagination just to make it look professional. Am I right, or I should make it look with more design features? Please advise.

  • DotC

    These are pretty awesome if a bit too web-centric.

    I just went through a generic job seeker resume and interview seminar. It was very helpful but I know she just didn’t know how to help someone in the creative community. She encouraged (and I have mostly gotten requests for) plain Word docs but I would rather design the thing and look like I know what I am doing. Agencies and design firms want one thing, clients and corporate inhouse want something else. Any advice?

  • Bryan

    As a print designer, I have always designed my own custom resume. I design my resume in Adobe InDesign and then export to a PDF. I’ve always assumed this was a good way to do it since InDesign gives much better layout and typographic control than MS Word. And PDF is a pretty universally accepted file format. However, I recently came across this blog posting:

    The author of this post–a resume expert–says that if you don’t save your resume as an MS Word document you are committing “job search suicide.”

    Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

    • jgeorge

      I would say to save in it both formats, because I have seen some that request text only, which s a pain, where they ask you to copy and paste your resume in a window, but then I have seen some where you can upload a resume. It really depends on the employer’s preference, ad if they specify a certain requirement, appease them, if not, then send them your pdf.

  • Hrish

    I don’t think you needed to say “Don’t get me wrong” in point 7. There is no excuse for lying in one’s resume, and anybody who thinks that “making yourself look good” includes lying about one’s abilities is, well, stupid.

  • Hrish

    Just to clarify, I meant that people who might think that about lying are stupid – I didn’t mean you :).

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  • Nancy

    A designer’s resume should always, always have good, solid typography.

  • bathroom tiles

    This article is about resume tips for designers. It has some solid information for newer designers or recent graduates, and is a good review for established professionals.

  • Craig Brown

    Many good thoughts about resumes for designers in here. I agree that you need to have your resume in several formats: Ms Word file, plain text for cutting and pasting into fields, a well-designed layout using InDesign, (my preferance for typographic control and ability to finese) Quark, or Illustrator if you must, and save it as a PDF. this also allows you the ability to add portfolio samples if asked. I have seen ads requesting “No websites Please” so having PDF samples ready is a good idea.

    Also, just because you are a designer, don’t “overdesign” your resume. after honing what you are going to say, and how to say it, focus on clear communication through well-crafted typography: Pay attention to your choice of font(s) Dont’ use more than two), the optical leading; watch for ascenders and desnders getting too close to each other. rivers of white through your cover letter, the rag on the right, the overall gray of the block of text and the kerning and tracking of your lines, proper kerning of numerals (be careful with 2010 and 2011), proper typographic punctuation ( when to use hypen, En, or Em dash, and many other small details.

    Too many bells and whistles get in the way of the information the hiring manager needs to see. On average, someone with spends 10–15 seconds with your resume. If it is too cleaver and therefore too hard to get to the details, they will pass it up, no matter how cool it looks. Keep in mind your resume may be faxed or Xeroxed, so the design needs to stand up to that treatment. a logo with burgundy and gray may look great on a PDF but will turn to mud when faxed, and then thrown into the trash.

  • Dan

    Great tips. Thanks for sharing

  • Jobnab

    It seems that the most important tip for everyone to remember is that you ultimately need to decide which of these tips actually benefit you as a potential employee. If you just cram together 100s of tips that don’t contribute to you as an individual, then you’ll just seem unoriginal and formulaic.

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  • Ethan

    Nice post. As someone who worked as a hiring manager for years, I would say that #1 & 2 are not as relevant as the rest. Sifting through 100′s of resumes for a single job, one resume that has a unique design will do nothing more than force an overly stressed hiring manager to have to search for information in a design meant to show off your design skills. Let your portfolio show off your design skills, not your resume. Most hiring managers, myself excluded, don’t know the first thing about design anyway.

    As far as #2 goes, I have pushed forward many resumes that are 2 pages, and even sometimes 3. Hiring managers are scanning resumes anyway, which also shows why #1 is unnecessary. As long as the resume has relevant information and is well laid out, worrying about resume length is not the most important thing. Most are not reading every word of your resume, 1-2 extra pages will not push them over the edge.

    Executive Order #11246 states that HR/Hiring Managers have to hold on to solicited resumes for 2 years, 6 months on average for unsolicited. So if you have met hiring managers that simply throw them away right off the bat, they are are not only breaking laws, they are NOT the type of place you want to work for.

    • James George

      Wow Ethan, thank you for the reply! I appreciate your input on this. Also, I wasn’t aware of the laws that you mentioned. I didn’t know that they were required to hold on to them. I have heard of employers simply tossing a resume for idiotic reasons. Also a lot of technical positions with decades of experience won’t fit on a single page resume.

    • Jimbean2much

      But was your job to hire creatives? I understand if it was to hire accountants or some slum job, but as a designer, we expect a certain level of excellence. The resume is just another form of our work. How best to communicate. That’s what we do.