Your graphic design resume is going to be just as important as your portfolio, if not more important than your portfolio when it comes to job hunting. This is because most people will examine your resume before they open your portfolio book, meaning your resume is going to be your first impression! You have to remember that the people you will be sending your resume to go through tons of these every day so yours has to be immaculate and memorable, or they won’t even bother looking at your portfolio.
I have talked with many art directors, designers and read an array of articles on the topic of resume design and you would be surprised at how the smallest glitch could sink your chances. Below I will go over everything you need to know regarding putting together a successful graphic design resume.
Graphic Design Resume Paper
People often get caught up in the design and content of their resume and forget one of the most important parts! The paper you use for your graphic design resume can tell your potential employer a lot about you. Choosing paper for a design project is an important job for most designers and if you overlook this you will have one strike against you right away. If you do choose a good paper for your resume it will get you bonus points. It will show your employer you have thought about every detail, and that you have done your research on papers.
You don’t want to use standard computer printing paper from an office supply store, so I would recommend looking at paper mills such as Neenah Paper, who offer some really great resume papers. I ended up buying two different versions of their Classic Crest line of papers for my resume.
Your Resume Layout
You are a graphic designer, so this is the chance to show what you can do in a tasteful manner. You probably don’t want to go overboard with a resume, because the information on the resume in the end is the most important part. With that being said you can still showcase your design skills, by adding visual elements, using a grid, playing with typography, color choices and so on. So don’t design your resume in Microsoft Word!
Graphic Design Resume Typography
This is another important aspect of your resume, so you need to be very careful with the fonts you choose! I would stay away from display fonts and free fonts and instead go with some classical fonts.
Probably the most important font to avoid in a design resume would be Times New Roman! Even Helvetica can be frowned upon sometimes, because it’s been branded so much as the “designers font” that some people consider it overused (at least in resumes).
Readability is very important so don’t make your type too small ( No smaller then 10-11 points ). Remember the readers need to be able to quickly and easily scan your resume. I would also suggest using serifed fonts for body text since it’s easier to read and doesn’t use very light colors.
If you HAVE to submit your resume as a Word doc, once again avoid Times New Roman at all costs!
What to Include in Your Graphic Design Resume
Below is a list of everything I would include in a graphic design resume in order of importance.
Name and Contact Info
You want to display your name in a very noticeable location along with all your contact information. It may be a good idea to put graphic designer somewhere in the resume as well in case someone needs to quickly figure out what type of resume yours is.
Personal Statement (also known as your objective or mission statement)
This is where you would write a brief statement about your goals, desired position and how you can benefit your potential employer. I’ve seen a lot of variations here; Some resumes have a generic objective, some have more of personal statement and some resumes don’t even have this section and instead go right to the experience section.
List your job experience here and make sure to include the job title, employment dates and a brief description of what you did and/or accomplished. You can also add the location of the job if you want, but I don’t think it’s as important as the other information.
Below is a list of information that should be included in the education section:
- Your Degree and Major (e.g., BFA in Graphic Design)
- Date of Graduation (Month and Year)
- College You Attended
- Location of Your College (City and State)
This is an area where you can write things such as: extensive experience dealing with clients, experience managing multiple projects at once and so on.
List your software, coding and other design related skills and organize them into categories if you have a lot of different technical skills.
If you have won any awards, contests, been featured anywhere or have had any shows make sure to mention them here.
Employers love to see that you are involved in the design community so if you belong to any design organizations then list them!
This isn’t really necessary, but if you are applying for a job and want them to know you have interests related to the job this would be a good place to mention them. I would keep this section at the very end of the resume.
I would not list references directly on the resume but rather state: References available upon request. Just make sure that you have the references if they do ask for them!
What NOT to Include in Your Resume
- A super generic “objective” at the top of your resume
- Obscure interests that do not relate to design
- Potentially offensive material. I will leave this one up to you guys because I don’t want to get in the way of anyone’s beliefs or views, but be careful mentioning or including work related to politics, war, religion and so on. It’s impossible to gauge how someone will react to sensitive topics, so sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Have people with resume experience read over your resume to try and catch errors.
- Check for consistency with formatting, such as do all bulleted sentences end with periods, or do some have periods and some don’t?
- Spell check the crap out of your resume again!
Graphic Design Resume Samples
Below are a few sample of resumes I found online so you can get an idea of what other people are including in their resume.
Steve Leggat (www.steveleggat.com)
Sebastien Nikolaou (www.sebdesign.eu)
Ian Macnider (www.ninetofivedesign.com)
Useful Resume Writing and Design Articles
If any of you are willing to share your resume design please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add it to this post to help others!
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