Managers expect graphic designers to make basic information pop for the reader, but that doesn't mean you should go all out with your resume. With hundreds or sometimes thousands of resumes to go through, hiring managers need resumes that are both easy to read and splashy enough to set themselves apart from the crowd.
The hiring manager is always going to ask for samples of your work, so your resume doesn't necessarily need to serve as an extra sample. It should look clean, with information that's easy to find; the manager shouldn't have to search for your accomplishments or a list of design programs you use. The pertinent information in your resume should be bulleted with noticeable headers to make your resume easy to read. Include information such as your previous jobs with short descriptions and accomplishments, your education and your professional certifications.
Adding Design Elements
The amount of creativity you should reflect in your resume depends on who's doing the hiring. If you're applying at a graphic design or public relations firm, for example, a bit more pizzazz might land you the job -- everyone on staff is likely to be a creative type. However, if you're applying to an accounting firm as its only on-staff designer, the person deciding whom to interview is likely to have an accounting background, rather than a creative one. In this case, your resume should be free of all but the most basic design elements, such as colorful subheads in an interesting font or a design that highlights your name at the top. The main thing to remember with any potential job is that your information needs to be easy to find and read. The hiring manager is just unlikely to take the time to read a complicated resume.
Resumes created in design programs with lots of color and art often end up as large files. Even when saved to PDF, the files can be several megabytes in size. These files are difficult to e-mail and, with some computer systems, difficult to open. If you have the most amazing resume in the world but the hiring manager has trouble opening it the first time, he's unlikely to try again. Instead, consider adding basic design elements to your resume in a word processing program. You're more limited as to where you can place the elements and how you use them, but they should be secondary to the copy, anyway. Saving the file in a word processing program often makes it easier to open, and some companies require resumes as word processing files to help reduce the chance of accidentally downloading viruses. Never send your resume as a native design program file; most hiring managers won't have the right programs to open it.
Keeping your resume style to clean lines with few graphics makes it easier to photocopy, which many companies do when more than one person is involved in the hiring process. That means you should stay away from reverse-colored type and dark watermarks, which make copies difficult to read. Also, if you use design software to create your resume, consider making a word-processing version, as well. This allows large companies to search your resume for keywords, which helps your resume make it to the next level in the search process.
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