How to use your resume to sell your design skills
Despite all of the options available for showing off your skills these days, a graphic design résumé is still an important asset to have. And though you wouldn’t think it, having a lot of skills can be a real problem when creating your résumé. You only have one page to impress your future employer with all your skills and qualifications, so how do you know which skills to list and which ones to leave behind?
I wrote a blog post a couple of months ago and highlighted 10 résumé that’ll make you want to update yours. We can all agree that most of these people with these résumés are pretty talented, and that most of them probably have a lot of skills. And though each designer is different, one thing we do notice in each these résumés is that they do a great job at presenting succinct information — they aren’t too overwhelming and most of them are pretty simple.
In this post, we’ll be talking about what information you should definitely include in your résumé and what you can leave behind, getting to the bare-bones of what info you’re presenting to an employer before you even think about the design of it!
Lets start off with your contact information. Most of us have cellphones, emails, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Lately, I have seen résumés that list most, if not, all of those contact points.
Ideally, you don’t want to bombard the reader with a million ways to contact you. Just the standard phone number, email and the occasional online portfolio. The employers don’t need to see your Facebook or your Twitter in your resumé, as presumably they will be able to access those points from your personal portfolio. So unless you’re applying for a position that deals with communication and social media, these kinds of accounts are not necessary.
Now that you have your contact information settled, it is time to put your work experience. Here, you really have to think about the position you are applying for. Your résumé should highlight every skill and experience that is relevant to the specific position you are looking at.
Of course, you’ll want to feature as many job experiences as you can, to show your experience in the industry. But as a designer, you can probably weed out your summer jobs, or any other work experiences that aren’t relevant to the position you are applying for. Worked retail at Macy’s during the summer? Scratch it off your résumé. What about that time you worked as Santa’s little helper at the mall during Christmas? That too.
What an employer will want to see is what you have done in the past that speaks to what you could do for them in the future. As a designer, you will want to list most of your experiences related to design and creativity, and give a detailed description on what YOU did in that company as a designer.
These employers receive a lot of résumés and won’t have the time to read through everyone’s entire work experience, so you’ve got to get them hooked right away. So start off strong and showcase why you would be perfect for this job, based on the job experiences you have had in the past.
Next on your résumé should be your education. There has been a lot of debate when it comes to how far back you should go when listing your education — and it’s going to depend on how much education you have. Is high school necessary nowadays when you went to college and have gotten a degree? Probably not, but if you’re a self-educated designer and high school is your highest level of study, you should definitely include it.
Additionally, even if you have gone to college, if you’ve done anything noteworthy in high school, it could still be useful to list. Designed a yearbook page? Add it to your description. Won a student design award? Of course, include that. Particularly when you’re just starting out and may not have a particularly full résumé, any design work is considered as design experience.
Finally, you’re going to want to list your skills. This is where you can have a little more fun and show your personality and creativity.
There are absolute requirements that you need to put in this section. Skills such as using design programs like Adobe Creative Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, After Effects, etc) is a must-have in your design résumé. If you know design-related skills like HTML/CSS, those can be a big asset to an employer, so don’t forget them.
But those are not the only things you can add. Do you do anything else outside of your design work that is creative? List them. Do origami? Put it in your skills. Can you draw? Are you a professional doodler? Good with paint? List them all. Any creative type of skill can help make you stand add, so add in this section.
Having all of this relevant information in your graphic design résumé will answer the most important question in an employers mind, “What value will you bring to my team?” So take notes designers, and your résumé will show that you indeed know more than all of your competitors.
What do you always remember to add to your résumé?
10 résumés that’ll make you want to update yours
6 ways to think and act like a great designer
7 crucial things to know before you start freelancing
6 ways to establish a brand as a freelancer