Job Seekers Unite! (part 2)

POSTED BY on Sep 21, 2012

For those of you that found my last post helpful – I hope you’ll find a little more help here. Moving on to resumes and portfolios. This definitely isn’t meant to be an exhaustive discussion on either topic – but at least a place to get started.

What makes a successful resume?

First let me start by saying that likely everyone you ask for resume help from – will give you different advice. There aren’t really right or wrong answers, but there are industry norms for resumes and from there you’ll find what works for you and what doesn’t.

  • One of the things that really helps me (and a lot of other folks I know) when I’m reviewing a resume is a professional summary at the top (whatever you want to name it is fine – but stay away from the ‘Objective’ trap.) Tell me in four or five sentences what you do, not how great you are at Photoshop or Excel, but take the time to really frame up your experience and be clear about what you do and how you sell yourself.  Tailor this for every job you apply for!
  • Many of us have a lot of information we can put in a resume – I’m going to stay away from any specific one or two page rules about resumes – but be reasonable and relevant, it’s supposed to be a summary. There is no reason for anyone to have a 5 page resume. ANYONE!
  • If you are a designer – make sure you are designing your resume. I don’t mean that you have to develop a logo for yourself or create illustrations or crazy imagery – but what a great place your resume is to show off your type and layout skills. Everyone else, you’re not off the hook – this is the creative industry after all – make sure it’s at least clean and readable and has some sort of formatting to it.
  • What about dates? We all agreed, keep dates on for your work experience, but admittedly we found ourselves on two sides of the fence when it comes to listing the year of graduation for any post-secondary education. I leave it up to you!
  • Show your personality. You still need to be professional, but there’s no reason you can’t have a little fun while touting your skills!          
  • And lastly – it might seem silly to bring this up, but proof your work – and then have someone else proof it after that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read how detail oriented someone is and proceeded to find several typos in their resume.

What about a successful portfolio?

  • The most successful portfolios have thought put in to them. They aren’t just thrown together images, but they tell a story about each project and more globally about the creative who worked on them.
  • Most portfolios these days are viewed without you there to explain the work. So take some time to put together an overview of each project – the design problem, the goal (creatively and from a business perspective) what your role was and how you solved for it all.
  • Do you have to have a website or url? You should (at the very least you need to have a PDF you can email) If you are an interactive designer – yes you MUST have your work online. That said – there are options beyond building a site yourself, great options like Cargo Collective, Krop and Behance – even dribbble.com is a great way to show ongoing projects.
  • Keep it focused – show your strongest work and leave it at that. The ability to edit your book is a big deal and shows a level of sophistication and thought.
  • We still love to see physical portfolios when we interview folks in person – and whether online or in print – your book is another way to show off your design skills!

We still haven’t talked about interviews or social media – stay tuned for more!


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