When it comes to writing a graphic design resume, the layout expectations of the document somewhat change if compared to resumes used to apply for other jobs. If you are a designer, you obviously want to set yourself apart from the competition and showcase all of your design skills on that single document. However, here is one rule you should know before creating your main marketing document. Content is the king. This saying is true not only for SEO but for professional resume writing as well. After all, resume writing is very similar to search engine optimization - both have specific target audience they want to hit with an effective message. That said, the message comes first. As much as graphic designers wish to demonstrate their artwork, it should only help with getting your message (content) across to the art director. Many job seekers tend to bury valuable information somewhere in an edgy design layout and by doing so they disqualify themselves because no art director wants to spend extra time on a resume in order to find needed information. The question remains then: if content, not graphic design, is the key in developing a powerful resume for graphic design jobs, how should one do it?
Brief Graphic Design Resume Writing Guide
There are over 260 000 graphic design jobs available out there and way more people who would like to get this kind of job. Therefore, it is important that you have all of the components at right places on your resume.
1. Pick the right format. Usually, we recommend choosing a reverse-chronological format. This is because the majority of employers prefer this type of layout as it makes their life easier when reviewing resumes. Functional or combination format is much less preferred. For you it means you should list your experiences starting from the most recent ones.
2. Craft your message. The message should include your work experience, education, etc. As we have mentioned before, content is the king. Graphic design is only meant to help convey content in a way that is pleasing to one's eye. This is the essence of what graphic content does. So work on your content and see what you can offer to prospective employer. Don't be generic by simply listing your skills and experiences. Choose to list and highlight those accomplishments that are relevant to the job requirements. Also, be brief - people responsible for making hiring decisions do not have time to read an entire life story.
3. Provide samples. It is important for art directors to see your work. While your resume layout can be considered as a mini-sample, it is not enough to make that impression on employers. Including a link to your portfolio becomes a must then. Art directors confess that if applicants don't bother to provide any samples, there are no chances for them to be seriously considered for the post.
4. Design. Employers will pay close attention to resume design so you should be very careful when choosing the layout for your main marketing document. You can use Illustrator or InDesign to deliver something special. One of the ways to generate some ideas is to search good resume examples online. Most likely some creative resume designs will prompt you to create a special layout for your document.
5. Don't plagiarize. If you are going to follow the advice to check graphic design resume examples online, the temptation will be high to copy the concept. This is especially true of recent graduates who often look for job search shortcuts. The thing is that if something has caught our eye, there is a good chance it has been shared already within the industry (and your art direction must have seen it too!). Keep in mind that your resume is expected to demonstrate your own creativity!
6. Proofread. Although designers are generally expected to create fancy layouts, they also need to be able to write well. Any spelling or grammar mistake can disqualify you from the position. No one wants to hire an uneducated and/or lazy designer. Therefore, you should always double check your spelling and grammar. If necessary, ask one of your friends to check your resume too.
Graphic Design Cover Letter Tips
Many job seekers wonder whether they need a cover letter at all. Nobody has ever heard anything about graphic design cover letter after all... But the fact that there is nothing particular about a graphic design cover letter doesn't mean you shouldn't have one. You may be surprised to know but about 40% of employers (including art directors) will simply ignore the application if it doesn't contain a cover letter. So if you want to miss 40% of your chances then forget about writing a cover letter.
A graphic design cover letter is nothing but another chance to personalize your message. It's an extension of your resume that allows you to share more information about your accomplishments and how your skills would fit the company's needs. No need to spend a couple of hours to design it - keep it as simple as possible. This isn't the best place to show your creativity skills (hopefully you've already done it when writing a resume). The content of the letter should only complement your resume. The key word here is "complement" so don't copy-paste content from one document to another. The key thing here is to personalize the letter as much as possible. Read the job ad carefully to identify key skills and experiences the employers are after. Then try to briefly incorporate your career highlights in a way that would help art directors understand how you match their needs and wants. Add to that, the specific name of the hiring manager, something you like about the company, and explanation how you can help the company - that's how you can get a head start and set yourself apart from the majority of other applicants.