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Resume Tips for Designers -- Or Anyone Really...

This blog entry was sent out among the SOCHI group here at SI, but upon reading the entry, I knew that this testimony had to be shared with everyone. A newly promoted Creative Designer wrote up a list of tips for the Designer's resume. Albeit, it's a bit crass in a couple places, but the tips are valuable to anyone who has to write a resume, not just designers. You can find the full entry at GraphicPush. Check out the list of tips below and you can also read the follow up comments at the site.

The first tip (applying for the right job) is crucial. I have stressed this before in this blog, and I'll say it again: Don't waste your time applying for a job that you are sort of qualified for or only mildly interested in. As soon as the reader of your resume receives your application, they can tell that you aren't the right candidate. The other tip that I think is essential is the one about writing your own resume/creating your own format. Every time I receive a resume in a MS Word template, I immediately tell the writer to remove it from the template and create their own flexible, adaptable, unique format. It only makes sense to write your own resume; only you know what you did and you need a format that is able to display that information in a way that is best for you (and if you need to learn the ins-and-outs of Word, I'm your girl. Just email me and I'll teach you everything you need to know.) ~Kelly

1. Apply for the Right Job
Call me insane, but I’m thinking you should read the job description before applying. Just a hunch. A little tip. I have print designers applying for the web position, web designers applying for the print position, freelancers and agency owners all over the country fishing for work and “IT? companies in India and Iran hawking their discounted rates. Approximately half of all resumes I’ve received are misfiled.

What really is pissing me off is that total lack of couth from the agencies and freelancers sending me e-mails to consider outsourcing the work. If I wanted a lecherous, desperate and mediocre designer on the other side of the country, I would have written my job description as follows:

Hi, I’m the Creative Director of a $35 million software company looking to offload a half-million dollar budget to the first insipid slob who solicits for the precise opposite of what I’m asking for. If you have barely passable design skills and the lifeless, impotent portfolio to match, call me!

2. Design Your Resume
This was a minor debate in my other post, but I feel it’s important for designers (including web designers) to design their resume. A generic Word template is exactly that — generic. It says everything about you and nothing about you at the same time.

I’ll be the first one to agree that designing for yourself is difficult (it took me three years to settle on the current design of my own site), which makes a resume and portfolio design all the more important for me to see. It demonstrates you have the initiative to brand yourself, to make yourself stand apart, to create a design that has no parameters, guidelines or specs.

3. If It’s Longer Than Two Pages, Cut it
I don’t need to know your life story. I don’t want to know your life story. I want to see your work experience from the past three relevant jobs, not every menial job going back to the six-month stint at White Castle in your freshman year. I also don’t give a crap about what high school you went to, reference letters from your neighbor or your pet cat.

Your resume should be short and sweet. Two pages of good, substantial experience and education. I dare say you might try to keep it to one page.

4. Stop Piling on the Action Words
Ten years ago, filling your resume with “action words? was a great way to drum up excitement from the recruiter. Today, it barely passes as cliche. At the end of the day, I want to know what you did, not what you utilized, implemented, solidified, generated, optimized, drafted or energized. Please don’t write over your head; it impresses no one.

5. Remember the Holy Trifecta: Brevity, Clarity and Accuracy
Keep your text brief and to the point, keep the design conservative and ultra-readable and keep the information FBI-background-check accurate. And for the love of all things holy, use your spell check. Please.

6. Make Sure Your Material is Printable
While it’s easy to create a fancy resume or portfolio, it must print well. If it’s a PDF resume and portfolio, it has to work on letter-size (or A4 for those in the UK) paper; if it’s online, be sure to use printer style sheets and test in every browser imaginable.

7. If It’s Online, Make It Clickable
If there are links in your PDF, make sure they’re linked to the e-mail or website they advertise. Similarly, if you have an online portfolio showing screenshots, make sure you link to the actual sites as well.

8. Don’t Dangle Your Portfolio Like a Carrot
This is different for ever job posting, but please send your portfolio when the company requests it. It’s very annoying to receive a dynamite resume, and at the end have it say, “Portfolio available upon request.? It means you didn’t read the entire job posting, and if you did, it means you don’t like to follow simple direction. Either way, it’s points against you.

9. If You’re Misrepresenting Work in Your Portfolio, Eat Shit and Die
If you’re the sort of person who likes to punch babies before stealing their lollipops, or the sort of person who microwaves small animals for fun, or the sort of person who burns down your parent’s house because they didn’t buy you the right kind of Barbie doll, you might be the kind of person who steals other designers’ work and presents it as your own. In that case, I sincerely wish upon you a full-blown case of Ebola and a happy two weeks shitting your way to hell.

Posted by kkowatch at June 6, 2007 08:16 AM


"keep the information FBI-background-check accurate"
I can not tell you how important this is. Please for the love of god do not inflate or just plain make up crap. It will impress no one and you will most likely be caught if the company or recruiter does any kind of worthwhile background check.

Posted by: todd@crimcheck.com at July 8, 2007 12:04 PM

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