Design with the user in mind. It’s a common saying for graphic and UI designers, but it really applies to any type of design. You might not realize, but it also applies to your graphic design resume. Your resume has a user who could potentially determine the course of your design career. To make a great graphic design resume, it needs to look great, read well, and get to the point. Here’s how to do that.
Also, don’t design it Microsoft Word. You’re better than that.
Why You Need A Resume
To begin, yes, you need a resume to get hired as a designer. Some people think that the portfolio is the only thing that’s needed, but it’s not. A great portfolio is definitely a more important factor in whether you’ll get a job or not, but you can’t ignore the resume. A potential employer wants to see where you’ve previously worked, your job titles, what projects you were involved in, and how long you were there for. They also don’t want to have to go to LinkedIn just to find that out.
What To Include
Name (Plus optional logo), website link/portfolio, email, and phone number. Your physical address usually isn’t needed, though you may want to include it if the position you’re applying for specifically wants people in a certain location. You can also include any social media handles here, but only if they’re relevant. If you have a design Instagram, include that. Don’t put your personal Twitter handle where you rant about sports. No one needs to see that.
Where you detail your work experience, keep things in reverse chronological order. In other words, have the most recent stuff first. A potential employer might only look at the top two things in this section, so those should be the most recent. If you’re a new designer with little to no real world design experience, you can put the education section above experience.
You should include your formal education here, but don’t forget to also include your professional education. This includes courses you’ve taken through work, online, and really any sort of external education you’ve received that’s relevant. LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, Skillshare, etc., include them if they’re relevant to the position you’re applying for.
If you’ve received any relevant awards, include them here. Don’t include your football trophies from highschool, but do include any awards or recognition you’ve received related to art, design, marketing, advertising, or creativity.
This is a good area to highlight your software and hardware skills, as well as any second language skills you might have. You don’t need to put how familiar you are with Microsoft Office. It’s assumed that if you can use a computer you can use Office. Although, you might want to include PowerPoint or Keynote in case the job posting lists designing presentations as a duty.
If you are skilled in other design-adjacent skills, add those too. This could include things like book binding, print production, research skills, 3D design, or online marketing.
What Not To Include
You know those trendy pie graphs or progress bar style graphics you often see on a designer resume? You don’t need those. They are usually included to indicate levels in creative or software skills, but that is pretty subjective. When I’m looking at a designer’s resume, I ignore those graphics altogether. I don’t care if you think you’re 75% amazing in Photoshop. That means nothing to me. What will actually show me how good you are is your portfolio. This is why, in your online portfolio, you should talk about your work and how it was created. That will usually make it pretty clear how well versed someone is in design software.
Remember to keep your resume simple. Anyone looking at it wants to get at the meat of it quickly, then figure out whether to sort it into the yes or no pile. At some point, your resume might also probably be printed. Don’t use excessive colour, keep it on a white background, and keep the font sizes legible so everything is readable if printed off on a not-so-great desktop printer.
Another thing you can exclude from your resume is anything irrelevant to the position you’re applying for. Yes, this probably means you’re going to be circulating a few slightly different versions of your resume around. Your resume needs to be customized for each job you’re applying for, so make sure you keep your files organized if you plan on applying to lots of places.
How To Make A Great Graphic Design Resume: In Summary
Keep your graphic designer resume simple and clean, use generous white space, a grid system, simple fonts, logical hierarchy, and design with the user in mind. Oh, and keep your resume to two pages max. There are some great graphic designer resumes here if you need inspiration. I’ve also designed a sample graphic designer resume above (Created in Affinity Publisher) so you can have an idea of how to put one together.
Is there something else you should add to a graphic design resume? What’s the best graphic design resume you’ve ever seen?