graphicpush

Resume Tips for Designers

Now in the envious position of hiring two more designers for my team, I am inundated with resumes, portfolios, cold calls and blind inquiries from the rank and file of unemployed graphic artists. Collecting this material has offered me some insight into the whole job seeking process, and I wanted to share some resume and portfolio tips with you.

As I mentioned at the end of October, I have moved into the Creative Director position at my company, and my very first task as the big cheese is to hire two new designers to fill some looming vacancies (if interested, it’s not too late). The two design positions — one web, one print — have been advertised for about two weeks on various websites. The resumes have been hitting my inbox at a fairly rapid clip, and I’ve now accumulated close to 40 applications for each job.

Awhile ago, I wrote about hiring a junior designer, and I briefly touched on resumes. When scouring the market for young talent, it’s impossible to predict what you’re going to get because almost every applicant is still in “art school” mode and producing highly experimental, conceptual work.

But I expect refined work and a polished resume when shopping for an experienced applicant. Unfortunately, the general grade has arrived below my expectations. In fact, I’ve received such a vast range of quality that I felt I had to sit down and offer some tips to those who might be in the market for a position.

1. Apply for the Right Job

Call me insane, but I’m thinking you should read the job description before applying. Just a hunch. A little tip. I have print designers applying for the web position, web designers applying for the print position, freelancers and agency owners all over the country fishing for work and “IT” companies in India and Iran hawking their discounted rates. Approximately half of all resumes I’ve received are misfiled.

What really is pissing me off is that total lack of couth from the agencies and freelancers sending me e-mails to consider outsourcing the work. If I wanted a lecherous, desperate and mediocre designer on the other side of the country, I would have written my job description as follows:

Hi, I’m the Creative Director of a $35 million software company looking to offload a half-million dollar budget to the first insipid slob who solicits for the precise opposite of what I’m asking for. If you have barely passable design skills and the lifeless, impotent portfolio to match, call me!

2. Design Your Resume

This was a minor debate in my other post, but I feel it’s important for designers (including web designers) to design their resume. A generic Word template is exactly that — generic. It says everything about you and nothing about you at the same time.

I’ll be the first one to agree that designing for yourself is difficult (it took me three years to settle on the current design of my own site), which makes a resume and portfolio design all the more important for me to see. It demonstrates you have the initiative to brand yourself, to make yourself stand apart, to create a design that has no parameters, guidelines or specs.

3. If It’s Longer Than Two Pages, Cut it

I don’t need to know your life story. I don’t want to know your life story. I want to see your work experience from the past three relevant jobs, not every menial job going back to the six-month stint at White Castle in your freshman year. I also don’t give a crap about what high school you went to, reference letters from your neighbor or your pet cat.

Your resume should be short and sweet. Two pages of good, substantial experience and education. I dare say you might try to keep it to one page.

4. Stop Piling on the Action Words

Ten years ago, filling your resume with “action words” was a great way to drum up excitement from the recruiter. Today, it barely passes as cliche. At the end of the day, I want to know what you did, not what you utilized, implemented, solidified, generated, optimized, drafted or energized. Please don’t write over your head; it impresses no one.

5. Remember the Holy Trifecta: Brevity, Clarity and Accuracy

Keep your text brief and to the point, keep the design conservative and ultra-readable and keep the information FBI-background-check accurate. And for the love of all things holy, use your spell check. Please.

6. Make Sure Your Material is Printable

While it’s easy to create a fancy resume or portfolio, it must print well. If it’s a PDF resume and portfolio, it has to work on letter-size (or A4 for those in the UK) paper; if it’s online, be sure to use printer style sheets and test in every browser imaginable.

7. If It’s Online, Make It Clickable

If there are links in your PDF, make sure they’re linked to the e-mail or website they advertise. Similarly, if you have an online portfolio showing screenshots, make sure you link to the actual sites as well.

8. Don’t Dangle Your Portfolio Like a Carrot

This is different for ever job posting, but please send your portfolio when the company requests it. It’s very annoying to receive a dynamite resume, and at the end have it say, “Portfolio available upon request.” It means you didn’t read the entire job posting, and if you did, it means you don’t like to follow simple direction. Either way, it’s points against you.

9. If You’re Misrepresenting Work in Your Portfolio, Eat Shit and Die

If you’re the sort of person who likes to punch babies before stealing their lollipops, or the sort of person who microwaves small animals for fun, or the sort of person who burns down your parent’s house because they didn’t buy you the right kind of Barbie doll, you might be the kind of person who steals other designers’ work and presents it as your own. In that case, I sincerely wish upon you a full-blown case of Ebola and a happy two weeks shitting your way to hell.

commentary + criticism

David W.

wrote the following on Thursday November 9, 2006

NO KIDDING. Fortunately I’ve never had to do more than assist in interviewing, but from my experience lack of simple honesty was the biggest problem I saw.

Worst example that I’ve seen: I was briefly an in-house designer for a Next-Big-Thing startup in Chicago, during the dot-com bubble when Next-Big-Things were thrown Big-Fat-Purses left and right. They hired a new C++ programmer, and he wound up sitting in my area. For the next week, when he thought nobody was looking, he would pull out his “C++ for Dummies” book and try to figure out what the hell he was supposed to be doing. It was hilarious, but I can only say that because he wasn’t my employee.

Of course, when the dot-com bubble burst, it turned out the CEO of the company had basically been doing the same thing, and they vanished pretty quickly. It was all very amusing to watch.

Best of luck with the hiring.

Shane

wrote the following on Thursday November 9, 2006

LOL @ #9

Six years of experience at the same company has helped me to keep my current resume at one page. I’m impressed with that myself.

Kevin

wrote the following on Saturday November 11, 2006

great set of tips here, they’ll come in handy when I start working on my new resume. As far as design goes, LifeClever has a great writeup on revamping the design of the ordinary resume.

Sean H

wrote the following on Sunday November 12, 2006

Great tips man. It’s funny how much I learned from just reading this and Mike Davidsons write up on influenceing art directors and etc. Being a recent graduate , colllege professors try as much as they can, but they definitely didn’t cover alot of these tips that are needed to survive as a designer especially for recent grads who are looking for jobs.

Justin Kilcher

wrote the following on Friday November 17, 2006

Thanks for the tips. As a soon-to-be college grad, I love reading these articles. Ill definatley be taking the next few months to fine tune my resume and portfolio so I wont be the negative inspiration you Creative Directors use to write these articles! :)

Ramesh

wrote the following on Saturday November 18, 2006

Agree fully. Some time back we had a situation where a guy mailed me a resume with one of my own project listed! I guess this is a global phenomena among designers

jojo

wrote the following on Sunday November 26, 2006

At first i was a bit taken aback by your description of “us” freelancers usurping the good graces of potential jobs posted by employers. I’ve never been called lecherous before.. But, I do that. on occasion. and with great results. Most employers really don’t know what they want. See my portfolio and will throw me work in my specialties while waiting for that perfect resume to cross their desk…They know it could take months. They didn’t plan ahead. Looking to hire a designer to fix the problem they are in now, isn’t the answer. helping them in the interim… I see that they are looking, and i might jump on it… But in the same breath i read your really well written explanation on why freelancers are better at times than agencies… I hope to pass it on to others. It explains well what i can’t…

jojo

chuyski

wrote the following on Tuesday December 19, 2006

I know I got my job by doing “most” of the tips you’ve written here including the Holy Trifecta.

But there are some here tips here which are new to me… so I’ll keep these in mind for my next resume revision.

Thanks!
Chuyski

Ghostblur

wrote the following on Tuesday January 16, 2007

After sever years working for the same firm, I found that having someone rewrite me resume made a huge difference. It went from noone answering my resume to getting five phone calls a week. I tried different “design” resumes that had a more graphic style appeal. Nothing. Not one reply. Companies now a days don’t even send a reply card to tell you that they are considering your resume at all.

In my opinion, it depends on who you are sending your resume to. Are you applying to be a graphic designer at a Real Estate company? Because if you are they are going to want to see something nice and neat. (Let’s face it non-Designers are idiots when it comes to design work and concepts.) They want to see in writing what your abilities are. The Human Resource person does not want to see your abilties in how you can design your resume to look pretty. They will trash that resume in a heart beat and probably make fun of it with their co-workers.

It also works if you hound the company until you get an interview with them. This is how I got my current job. They sadistically wanted to see how much I really wanted the to work for their company.

Remember this Motto: “They are not doing you a favor by hiring you. You are doing them a service by bringing your talent.” Companies have tried to get me to do free work for them before I even was employed by them. Do not do it. Do Pro Bono work for an organization that needs it. Do not do FREE work just to prove yourself to a company.

If you don’t beleive me, that’s fine with me. These are just my experiences.

?

wrote the following on Tuesday January 16, 2007

Sometimes I wonder if it’s the right way to choose people for an interview on basis of an written application even if he meets the requested criteria. For me it’s more important to learn something about the person, how does he behave, how did he master crises in his life and so on. Maybe a small podcast would be much more telling….

Justin

wrote the following on Thursday March 22, 2007

These are great tips for young creatives! Hopefully, if we all keep spreading the word, we won’t have to keep complaining about these things!

Richard Griffin

wrote the following on Monday March 26, 2007

I know next to nothing of the design or print businesses and what is more I came across this site (by accident) while Googling where on earth I could download the “Contempt” WordPress theme.

However, once here, I was taken with the clean simplicity and precision of this site and started having a sniff around. I found this article and had a blast reading it. Having worked as a professional staffer for an IT staffing agency I can thoroughly rubber-stamp everything you wrote in this informative and delightfully non-politically correct (thank goodness) article. There are gems of truth in here that not only should benefit the interviewee but should be burned with a laser into the eyes and minds of many recruiters and employers I have met over the years.

web design company

wrote the following on Monday April 9, 2007

It’s really a cool content certainly going to help a lot. Being a recent graduate , colllege professors try as much as they can, but they definitely didn’t cover alot of these tips that are needed to survive as a designer especially for recent grads who are looking for jobs.

Web design Analyst

wrote the following on Friday July 13, 2007

Resume preparation is an art mastered by years of practice.

Shanghai Internet Marketing

wrote the following on Friday August 17, 2007

The best would be to upgrade an initial resume to an interview. Maybe in Second Life employers can set up pre-interviews and get a better picture of their applicants.

Seanan

wrote the following on Saturday January 26, 2008

I was looking up some tips for helping me refine my resume for my graduate app.
Your list was hilarious. It gives me some hope that any of my own weaknesses will be overshadowed by the plethora of imbeciles and assholes eager to announce their foolishness and depravity to the world.
cheers.

Web Designing and Development

wrote the following on Tuesday April 8, 2008

Some more Useful Tips for Designing UR Resume

1. Use Titles or Headings That Match The Jobs You Want
2. Use Design That Grabs Attention
3. Create Content That Sells
4. Quantify and Use Power Words
5. Analyze Ads and Job Descriptions to Identify Key Words
6. Identify and Solve Employer’s Hidden Needs
7. Sell the Benefits of Your Skills
8. Create an Image That Matches The Salary You Want
9. Prioritize the Content of Your Resume
10. Tweak and Target Your Resumes and Cover Letters

Regards,
Sai BPO Services (UK) Ltd

Baki

wrote the following on Thursday November 13, 2008

What do I do if my portfolio doesn’t have much in it at the moment? I never finished art school (in fact in terms of schooling I went in the other direction – business) but I’ve done several design jobs and my ‘clients’ have been very satisfied.
I want to get off the freelance pony and move onto the permanent job horse, but like I said, I don’t have THAT much in my portfolio.
What are the chances someone will give me a chance?

Jordan Hall

wrote the following on Thursday February 5, 2009

Some good tips here, especially regarding the longer than two pages tip. I doubt anyone is interesting / experienced enough to merit more than two pages of information about themselves!

A well written, arranged and informative CV will always attract employers.

Internet Marketing, Web Development, BPO Service

wrote the following on Tuesday June 2, 2009

Well resume or each and every other document, whether it is a letter, application,any requirement, proposal or anything else should be authentic and to the point.

Try to express maximum with possible minimum words.

Steven Smith

wrote the following on Monday June 8, 2009

REALLY useful article, thank you so much!!!!

Web Design Bangladesh

wrote the following on Saturday July 11, 2009

Really Great tips for designing resume for designers. I think designer’s resume should include something exceptional that really represents his innovation and imagination. I don’t know is this something not acceptable for standard resume format but i think at least designer’s resume should have some variations.

Modern Technologies

wrote the following on Sunday July 26, 2009

Resume express yourself and your ability. So, be careful about resume designing. Specially resumes for designer should contain something that really represent his design ability but it is true that this should not be longer too much and be limited within two pages as you said.

rbts

wrote the following on Thursday September 24, 2009

Nice information shared here .. this will be helpfull to many guys who are looking for jobs… and even me as we are a company who always give preferance to even freshers..

Norton 360 Coupon

wrote the following on Wednesday October 21, 2009

Really, in my opinion, it depends on who you are sending your resume to. Are you applying to be a graphic designer at a Real Estate company? Because if you are they are going to want to see something nice and neat. (Let’s face it non-Designers are idiots when it comes to design work and concepts.) They want to see in writing what your abilities are.

The Human Resource person does not want to see your abilties in how you can design your resume to look pretty. They will trash that resume in a heart beat and probably make fun of it with their co-workers. This is what I believe

web development

wrote the following on Tuesday December 29, 2009

I have gone through your article and would like to write a similar blog concerning this topic, you beat me to it. You did a nice job! Thanks and well add your rss to come categories on our blogs. Thanks so much, Jon B.
web development

tatil otelleri

wrote the following on Saturday March 6, 2010

Nice information shared here .. this will be helpfull to many guys who are looking for jobs… and even me as we are a company who always give preferance to even freshers.

Craig Stapley

wrote the following on Sunday January 9, 2011

These tips are great. Thought I would throw mine out there for praise, bashing or criticism. Here is a link to it :: http://stapleydesign.com/resume_2011.pdf

Thanks, Craig

Marcella Nucci

wrote the following on Thursday March 17, 2011

Brilliant tips! Due to crisis for half a year I couldn’t find a well-paid full-time job. Most companies preferred a non-stuff freelance specialist that influenced the wage of course. After enhancing my resume following your guideline I was soon offered an excellent position in a
<a href=http://www.besttermpaper.com/services/term-paper.html>term paper writing service</a>.
Thank you so much!
Good luck, Marcella.

Hitcliff J.

wrote the following on Friday July 29, 2011

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 <a href=http://www.picktorrent.com/download/13/8296709/indesign-cs3> InDesign </a> (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.

Sarah

wrote the following on Tuesday August 16, 2011

As a [hardcore and possibly over-serious] design position seeker, I must point out the extreme relativity of this article to not only those looking for a quality job but employers as well.

I’ve spent months preparing for my transition from full-time freelancer to corporate designer and 2 months in to what I thought was my “dream IT job”, I found that the company did not need a creative, eager mind but instead, they wanted someone for the Python-crazed and lazy work-from-home programmers to throw their loops onto for integration on the web with absolutely no care in the world other than their deadlines. I completely understand having deadlines, as a matter of fact, my life has revolved around them for years. With this being so important, why not hire a high-level designer+programmer (which is virtually impossible) and not threaten to fire the creative new-hire when you realize they may need a little training that can’t be conducted via Skype in your Snuggy.

PS. Funcom BLOWS.

Square one, here I come (again)…

By Files

wrote the following on Thursday October 6, 2011

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.

Kristinakathy

wrote the following on Friday May 3, 2013

Hi there. Very informative for designers. Sometimes talented personnel are rejected only because of a bad resume. Great jog :)

http://www.zealousweb.net/hire-dedicated-web-developer-india/

Hire PHP Programmer@Zealousweb

wrote the following on Friday June 21, 2013

I agree with your view buddy. Resume is the reflection of your whole career and it should be mentioned clearly. Nice post. Thanks :)

Remya Rajesh

wrote the following on Wednesday July 3, 2013

The best advise will be write from your heart. Don’t list just software skills. Design skills comes from mind not from softwares. They are just tools mind use. Teach yourself how to visualize. All the best

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