How to Write a Graphic Design Resume
What Is a Graphic Design Resume?
A graphic design resume is your chance to show potential employers that you are perfect for the job.
It details your work experience, education and skill set.
As a creative industry, many think that a resume is not as important as a portfolio.
However, there were 281,500 graphic design jobs in 2019, with over 240,000 applicants. The resume was the first thing recruiters looked at before considering the creative portfolio.
So, while your portfolio showcases all your work and proves your talent, your resume is still a critical document. As such, it needs to tempt recruiters to look at your portfolio.
As a creative person, your resume should show your creative flair. It should also be tailor-made for each position you apply for, with your experience matching the skills listed in the job description.
The recruitment process for graphic design can be challenging, depending on the organization. It may involve all or most of the following:
- Send in your resume, cover letter and link to your online portfolio
- Attend an interview where you may need to show your physical portfolio
- Complete an assessment piece based on a brief given by the organization
The larger the organization or the more applications a company receives, the harder the piece and interview may be.
You have, on average, seven seconds to catch the attention of the recruiter, so you resume needs to stand out.
What Will an Employer Look for in a Graphic Design Resume?
The employer will be looking to match the qualities on the job description with your resume.
Ensure that you have matched each competency with your experience.
Your resume will need to highlight the specific skills asked for by the recruitment team and essential soft skills, as well as general industry ones.
- Planning new design concepts
- Following client briefs and requirements
- Written communication
- Excellent presentation skills
- Creativity and innovation
- Being up-to-date with latest technology and software
- Literate in Adobe apps, web design and typography
- Team worker
- Attention to detail
- Able to work to deadlines and in high-pressure environments
As a creative person working in a creative industry, your resume needs to look good as well as read well.
Any Google search of 'graphic design resume template' will yield a host of beautiful and exciting looking resumes. However, sending in an aesthetically pleasing resume that is complicated or difficult to read will turn the recruiter off.
They do not have time to decipher the information.
It also demonstrates that you do not know how to create content for your audience, a fundamental skill for any graphic designer.
So, keep the design professional, simple and clear at all times.
Key Graphic Design Skills
|Technical Skills||Soft Skills|
|Adobe Creative Cloud||Creativity|
|Designing for print||Collaborative|
How to Write Different Elements of a Graphic Design Resume
Each section of your resume needs to stand out. But for the right reasons.
It is tempting to create a unique resume but the following elements are essential and need to be easy to read.
What Format to Choose
The new standard resume is split lengthways into thirds. One third highlights your personal details and key skills, while the other two-thirds show your education and work experience.
There is flexibility with the design but this format is easy to read and clearly highlights the sections.
Use clear and easy to read fonts in a reasonable size; 11 or 12 is ideal.
Don't cram in as much information as you can. Leave some white space as it gives the reader a chance to rest their eyes and absorb what they have read.
Make sure all your information is in reverse-chronological order and only use essential details. Leave double-spaces between sections.
Save your resume as a PDF.
In this section, include your:
- Contact number
- Professional email address
- Link to portfolio
John Doe, Graphic Designer – firstname.lastname@example.org – 555-555-5555 – doedesigns.com
There is no need to include your address or location.
You should also keep your title simple. Any 'extra' titles, such as 'Graphic Design Guru', might not resonate well with the recruiter.
If you need to, create a new email account using a professional name. No organization wants to send interview invitations to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic Design Resume Objective or Resume Summary
The recruiter is not going to dedicate time to reading all resumes word for word.
Statistics show that each job receives around 250 applications
Your resume summary or objective is a short paragraph that tells the recruiter you have the relevant skills and experience.
Think of it as your elevator pitch.
Use a summary if you have work experience and use an objective if you are new to the field or a graduate.
Mid-level graphic designer with a background in F&B design for niche brands. Winner of the F&B Creative Campaign Award 2019. Passionate about creating long-lasting impressions with 70+ design projects.
Motivated graphic design graduate looking for entry-level work. Proficient in Adobe Creative Apps, UX design and web creation. Received the Student Graphic Designer of The Year Award 2019. Created the website and newsletters for the student newspaper.
Try not to be too generic with your introductions. This is your one chance to show what you can do for the organization you are applying to.
If you won prestigious awards, say it. If you graduated top of your class, let them know.
Starting with the most recent, lay out your experience as follows:
- Position name
- Responsibilities and achievements
If you lack experience, there are plenty of ways to find some.
Sign up for freelancing websites such as 99Designs or see if any businesses in your local community need a rebrand or promotional material.
For graduates looking to develop their resume, no rule says you can't freelance while studying.
Improving your experience outside of school projects and internships show initiative and a willingness to grow — employers value both skills.
December 2017 – June 2020
Dexter's Agency, Boston
- Collaborated on a project to create branding for a line a craft beers
- Spearheaded five design projects that exceeded client expectations
- Redesigned an e-commerce website and improved sales by 12%
Freelance Graphic Designer October 2018 – December 2018
St. Anne's Church, New Hamptonshire
- Designed new prayer guides for Sunday Mass
- Designed and created church website, which I still maintain and update
- Worked with members of the church to develop Christmas service promotional material
Qualifications and Education
Education isn't as important as experience when it comes to the creative industries. Just because someone went to a good school doesn't mean they have a natural creative talent.
However, the employer is still interested in your educational background.
You only have to list your high school education if you did not attend college or university.
Remember to incluce the following:
- Degree type and major
- University and location
- Years studied
- GPA, awards and standout courses
BA Graphic Design
- GPA 3.7
- Alpha Beta
- Took student newspaper online
- Courses included: Advanced Graphic Design, Consumer Behavior and Web Design 101
Awards and Certifications
List all the relevant awards you may have received or were nominated for, and any extra certifications you've received.
Have you completed any graphic-design-related course in your spare time or learned another language?
The goal of your resume is to sell yourself, so if it relates to the job role, mention it.
Hobbies, Interests and Projects
What you do in your spare time has nothing to do with your ability to produce great designs. But sharing a bit about yourself lets the employer know if you are someone they would want to work with.
You spend most of your time with your work colleagues, so the working environment needs to be cohesive.
This only needs to be a brief bullet-pointed section. Mention three to five relevant hobbies, and don't be ashamed of them.
However, as you are applying for a professional job, maybe leave out 'loves to drink and party'.
If you are currently working on any projects such as renovating a home or running an Instagram page with all your designs, let your recruiter know.
These little details let HR know more about your personality and what your strengths may be. It also gives them conversation starters or ice-breakers for your interview.
What if This Is Your First Graphic Design Job?
If you are a graduate or making a career change, the roles you apply for will likely be entry-level.
As an entry-level applicant, the recruiter will not expect a wealth of experience on your resume. However, there are ways to fill it out if you feel your experience is lacking.
For graduates or college students, take advantage of any on-campus or extracurricular activities that will help with your experience.
Universities are full of young entrepreneurs and bloggers. Reach out to them and ask if they need a branding package – you can do this for free or charge a small fee.
If you are someone changing careers, you should also register for freelancing websites or see if any businesses or persons in your community need designs.
You should also consider your experience to see if there are any transferable skills that you can highlight on your resume.
If a job description says that the applicant needs to have experience working in a team under tight deadlines and that was something you experienced previously, mention it.
Starting fresh means that you have to get creative and find ways to showcase your skills and talents.
Key Tips for Creating a Standout Resume
1. Use action words such as:
2. Coordinate your resume to match the organization's branding. This builds an association between you and the organization.
3. Keep it clean and concise. You do not need to detail every success you've ever had – stick to those that directly relate to this role.
4. Research the organization's values and demonstrate they are yours also. For example, if you are charitable, list the companies you have volunteered for.
5. Include keywords and phrases from the job description.
6. Quantify your accomplishments. How much revenue did your last campaign generate? What was the size of the budget?
7. Proofread your resume before submitting.
8. Make sure your resume complements your graphic design cover letter.
9. Take the time to get it right.
10. Have a mentor or career counselor look over it for ways to improve.
Whether it is your first job application or one of many, applying for a new job role can be stressful, especially if it is the dream job you've always wanted.
As your resume is the first thing the recruiter views, it needs to pop.
Take the time to research the company and the language they use. Try and build as many connections as possible through keywords and phrases.
Don't be afraid to show off your successes. Your resume needs to entice the recruiter to view your portfolio.
Finally, believe in yourself. Confidence is contagious. If you feel good about your achievements while writing your resume, the person reading it will feel that same feeling.