There has been a lot of debate about the importance of the resume, especially in the design field. Some believe that digital resumes will eliminate the need for print, while others still hold importance to the old-fashioned, physically-in-your-hand resume. Well luckily, you need both.
Designers need both a physical and a digital resume to sell themselves as a brand. Everyone just needs to jump on the fast train to technology land and accept that everything digital is here and it is not going anywhere. At the same time, a lot of employers want to see and touch a physical representation of your credentials because not only it shows that you came prepared to the interview, but it also gives you a chance to show your creative side separate from the portfolio.
Why is the portfolio not enough? Several reasons.
- The resume is the first thing employers look at prior to the interview.
- Employers judge the resume before even diving into the portfolio.
- The resume is one of the most common materials asked for in the job hunt.
These conditions may be different from employer to employer. At the same time these are generally the reasons why creating a killer physical and digital resume would be in your favor. Let’s start the process.
First we have to create outstanding content. This includes:
- Contact Information
- Skills and Software
- Objective Statement
That is your name, address, phone, email, and even social media outlets such as Twitter or Facebook. Glad we got that out of the way.
What projects did you work on before? Have you interned in any advertising agencies? Who did you collaborate with? These are the types of questions you should ask yourself when filling out your Experience section of your resume. My suggestion is to sit down and make a list of everything you have done that is related to your career. Pick out the best ones and explain each experience in bullet sentences.
This is an obvious one. While there might be some debate as to which is more important (Experience vs. Education), it is a good idea to tell your future employer where you got your degree. Whether it is an associate degree, bachelors, or even if you just took a couple of classes online, include it all in your resume as long as it is relevant to your career and the job you are applying for. Include name and location of the institution, how long you studied for or year you graduated, the degree, and a GPA. You can eliminate the GPA if you have a solid 3 to 5 years of experience under your belt.
Give a sense of what you can do for your employer. This is where you set yourself apart. Some people are masters at Photoshop while others are hard-core developers. Play your strengths and promote your best skills. What is trending is demonstrating your ability using a type of bar or pie graph to show levels of proficiency. Take a look at what Pau Morgan done with his resume.
If you have won an art contest and placed as one of the top graphic designers in your area, it wouldn’t hurt to talk about it in your resume. It will definitely boost your credentials and justify your abilities as a designer.
Employers want to see what you are involved with that doesn’t include your experience and education points. They like to see well-rounded prospects who get involved in their design community.
Why put this last? My opinion, you don’t need it. Others disagree. What is it? It is a statement about who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for in your design career. I don’t think you need it mainly because that is what cover letters are for. Who knows? There may be a time when this statement goes with the design of the resume. A perfect example of a favorable objective statement is Loren Burton’s resume.
Keep your content to one page
Your future employer does not have time to read or scan a two+ page resume. They get dozens and dozens of resumes for one position. Do them a common courtesy and keep everything summarized. Get to the point. If all your content extends for more than one page, eliminate your irrelevant content and weakest selling points. Bentley University offers a free resume guide that can help with creating content that sells yourself.
That is what copywriters are for, right? When you think your resume is done and you have it all print it out, you notice that there is one misplaced letter or syllable. You have to catch stuff like this before you print those 20 resumes for a career fair. Have your family, friends, co-workers, design community, and even those copywriter friends to look over your resume to make sure it is understandable and makes sense. Employers won’t take the time if they find a typo.
Your experiences, skills, and education will continue to change after graduation. Make sure to update your resume as much as you can, keeping a record of your past experiences. A good idea is to have a master resume that includes everything you have done and what you can do from past to present. That way you can pick content from the master resume to your working resume. This will help match the job description and to show what employers want to see in a potential candidate.
You want your layout to be creative, but also legible. Some designers go crazy with the design that they forget about the importance of the content. A checklist of sorts to consider include:
- Sketch the design before diving into creating the resume.
- Use a grid or guides to help align content and elements.
- Make sure the colors you use will be legible in a black and white print out.
- Format your content placement in a logical order.
Your resume is like any other client project. Apply your design process to your own brand identity. It will save you the hassle in production guaranteed.
Grids and guides will save your life. You do not want your contents to look out of place and unbalanced.
Once employers receive hundreds of applications, they tend to print resumes out to screen and check for any matches to their company. They do not want to waste color ink so make sure your resume prints well in black and white (avoid dark backgrounds). Yes, we are in the digital age, and at the same time your employers are still the baby boomers and part Generation Y. We have not cross that threshold yet to purely digital formats.
Now it would not make sense to put your contact information in the middle, right? If you just graduated from college and do not have years of significant experience, put your education first. Make sure each content section is in chronological order. Format type accordingly.
Fancy type is great for your name, but using a script font for your body content is just silly. Common guidelines to follow:
- Avoid Times New Roman or any typical font of the sort.
- Pick the right font size.
- Match font with the design.
Sure it will work for other industries, but for the design field it is out of the question. It is an overused default font and you are a designer for heavens sake! That is the last thing they want to see. A safe thing to do is to chose a san serif font because of readability.
Yes there is zoom in the digital world, but in the print world it doesn’t cut it. Make sure your future employer can read your resume with the right size font. Not too big and not too small. Stick with the 11 to 14 point range for body content, depending on the font. You can go big for your headings of course, as long as it works for the overall design of your resume.
Have the design interact with the typography rather than pretty wallpaper. A good example is the handwritten style resume by Liagi Ann Jezreel. She chose a font that parallels nicely with the notebook paper.
Print Paper and Web Outlets
Yes there are various types of weights and textures for any paper quality. Like my business card roundup demonstrates, you don’t even need to print on paper. This is where you can get creative with your resume. Present it in a new way that will make you stand out from the rest of the designers.
Be mindful of crossing the gimmick line. Make sure to do your research and make a design to the company’s needs. Ed Hamilton has done his digital resume in Google Maps to stand out. While this may be an appropriate resume CV for a company like Google, conservatives such as an in-house advertising department in a law firm might not seal the deal.
This one caught my eye. Melissa Washin gave a big personal touch to her resume by showing her interest in sewing, creating a Fabric resume.
If you are sticking with paper, be mindful of the weight and color of the paper source you choose. There is also different paper types to choose from including cotton and linen. Some stick with old-fashioned computer paper. Don’t. Computer paper is like Times New Roman font: overused and ill-creative. You want to stand out to your employer so pick a different paper source that is best for your design.
You haven’t forgotten about your digital resume, have you? Many employers are opting at the choice to use LinkedIn for online applications when sending your resume. Use the same content as you put in your print resume. If you didn’t get to put everything you wanted on the printed version, now is your chance to showcase all your experiences through digital outlets.
Don’t have an online resume presence? A list to help you get started:
- Brand Yourself
- Resume Bear
One of the largest employment websites to start your online resume presence.
Professional networking resume builder for the creatives.
Not only you can make a profile CV, but Brand Yourself also helps improve your identity on the web.
This is nifty. Resume Bear allows you to track who opened and downloaded your resume via your smart phone.
There are also the options of making your resume its own website. Some are making Facebook Pages as their own personal resume. Others are creating separate domain names, dedicating a whole webpage as a CV. This one is a riot: The Reverse Job Application by Andrew Horner.
Why did it work for Mr. Horner? It showcased who he is. His personality, his challenges, and his outcomes. Does this reverse resume work for everyone? No. This was his thing. You have to find your creative way to showcase yourself.
What to learn from all this? If you have the guts to make a statement about yourself and to show people that you are here and ready for the next step, make it happen. You reading this post (or at least skimming it) is one stepping stone into building your presence. Take these tips as guidelines for your own unique resume. Good luck!
What do you think of these pointers? Do you have any to add? Share your thoughts below!