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.

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