Friday, April 15, 2011

Graphic Designers and Their Resumes

One of the groups I joined on LinkedIn has a great discussion going on whether the writer should design their resume. Or to put it more directly, whether a professionally designed resume really matters in the era of HR keyword-detecting software. The employment climate is still tough for creatives.  I've been thinking about this more as the time approaches for a new group of design graduates looking to join the profession.

I learned in school the importance of a well-designed resume as part of my personal identity program. I believe that is still true. Your resume, along with a printed business card and letterhead was the first introduction creative managers received about you before they saw your portfolio.

Today, prospective employers can view your website. Social networking sites contribute to an employer's knowledge about you before they see you face to face. Many aspiring designers have Flash based portfolios, and readily send out PDFs or DVDs of their best work.  A text only resume may be required when seeking a corporate design position. How would you advise a fellow established designer or your soon-to-graduate intern?

I've appreciated the depth of comments submitted so far on LinkedIn. The designer, recently laid-off, asked for help, and others in the trenches offer advice and encouragement. A few reviewed her resume, suggesting changes. Others shared their resumes, asking for feedback. I'm sure there are others who have contacted the designer privately offering help.

Here is what I shared (in case you wondered). Old school:

1) No more than 2 pages

2) Emphasize strengths

3) Summarize successful design projects in terms business people can understand. Example: your design increased your client's sales by 30%.

4) Tailor your resume to your job prospect where possible

5) Follow up with phone calls, emails, etc.

Art and design directors who mentored me also suggest updating your resume periodically.  I suggest continuing the pattern of lifelong learning you began as a new designer. Take a class, attend a seminar. Take a trip. Sketch or paint a little. Do something that stretches you creatively.

A blog I read recently concluded with this thought: remember the resume gets you the interview, not the job. You help get the job by your positive professional attitude, killer portfolio, and personal integrity.  Like you, I hope our economy rebounds faster so more of us find the meaningful work we were born to do, and more of us become better resourced so we can hire and mentor the designers of the future.

Monday, April 4, 2011

More of HOW Design Conference, and At the Library

I got another card on that un-coated paper from HOW Design. They have extended the conference early bird registration to May 1. If you're interested in learning more from top creatives in our business, check it out!

One of my favorite pastimes is visiting our public library.  I love browsing the aisles checking out books and magazines and seeing the new DVD and e-book offerings, graphic novels (comic books for adults and the kids who love them), and so on. I spend a lot of time at the high school to adult section of the library.  Print is in challenging times to be sure. But—at least for me—the library is an oasis in my world of layout programs, HTML and XML. I like it so much I 'Liked' it on Facebook!

I had a few moments so I decided to do some 'research' in the children's section.  Much of what I do as a designer is preparing reference materials for kids. It had been a while, and it was a great eye opener. In the fiction section, there were a number of supernatural-themed titles. Multiple copies of the Harry Potter novels were available. There was a smaller graphic novels section that included familiar licensed characters and educational offerings. I didn't get over to the media section this trip (unless you count the Lego display).

Then I came to the reference section, where current editions of The World Book Encyclopedia reside with our competitors' works. It's a great place to analyze book spines, covers, paper stock, and interior design. I was especially pleased to see our new People and Places set on the shelves and to thumb through one of the volumes I worked on. Very cool!

I plan to visit our library and children's section again soon. Until then, please join me in saying thanks to the librarians, supporters, and volunteers who help make learning and reading fun.