That’s the average time a job recruiter looks at a resume.
Six seconds! It might not seem like that’s a lot of time – because it isn’t. The old saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover certainly does not apply to resumes. People reading resumes definitely judge you based on a very small sample of what they see.
As a budding web designer, you are faced with an even more difficult task than other job seekers. Not only do you need to create a resume with text that explains who you are and what you’re about, you also need to design an eye-catching resume that shows off your design sensibilities.
So how do you create a killer web design resume that blows the socks off recruiters in just a few seconds?
In today’s post, we answer that question with a variety of tips and tricks that will help you focus on the most important aspects of creating a web design resume.
The Importance of Clear Goals
Before you sit down to create your resume, there are a number of criteria you first need to identify:
- What job do you want and where?
- Who is your ideal employer and why?
- What are your needs? Think about salary, benefits, schedule, and hours worked per week.
- What are your career goals? Do you want to be a junior designer your whole life or do you have higher aspirations?
Once you have your goals established, you can create a resume that reflects where you want to go as a professional.
The Basics: Essential Components of Your Web Design Resume
There are some must-have items to include on your resume. We’ve listed each item in terms of the positioning it should have, from top to bottom, in the document.
- Contact Information: There’s no better way to kick off your resume than to tell them who you are and how to contact you. In fact, it’s one of the few areas recruiters focus on every single time. If you include your email address, have one that looks adult and professional. Leave email@example.com for your friends and family. If possible, get your own domain so you look that much more professional. If your own domain isn’t a possibility, create a new business-only address using Gmail or another modern email service.
- Personal Statement: Many job applicants mistake the personal statement as an opportunity to talk about themselves when it should be used to convey what, specifically, you can do for the person hiring you. Don’t tell them that you aspire to be a web designer. That will be intuitively obvious since you’re applying for web design jobs. Instead, reel off a short list of the benefits you’d bring to the company.
- Experience: If you’re just starting out, this section might be a bit on the thin side. As such, it’s important for you to take on some projects to get some experience. This is particularly necessary if you didn’t go to design school because design students at least have class projects they can include. Take on a few pro bono jobs, like volunteering to design the website for a non-profit organization, to get some experience to include on your resume.
- Education: Since many web designers are self-taught, the education section for web design resumes bear less importance than for other types of jobs. If you have a degree, list it. If not, list any training, certificates, or other educational achievements that are related to the field.
- Skills: The skills section shouldn’t be a list of everything you can do. Rather, it should be a short list of your very best skills. If you’re an expert using Sketch, list it. If you’ve used Sketch once, don’t. Many new web designers have trouble resisting the urge to fudge the truth when it comes to what they can and can’t do, so be careful that the skills you list are truly your best.
- Awards/Accomplishments: If you’ve received any awards for your web design-related work, by all means, list them on your resume. It’s a great way to impress potential employers and gives you a way to differentiate yourself from other candidates for the job. If you’ve never received any awards, don’t worry! Just list some accomplishments that you’re proud of, like completing specialized training in Photoshop or being a member of a design team that helped launch a new product or service.
- References: Include 2-4 references that can vouch for you being as amazing as you say you are. Some people put “available upon request” here, and that’s fine. Just be sure that you have your references’ contact information at the ready if you’re asked to provide that information.
Stand Out From the Crowd to Increase Your Chances of Getting Hired
If you submit an application and resume for a design job, chances are you’ll be competing for that job with other highly qualified, equally unique professionals, who, just like you, are trying desperately to stand out from the crowd.
So, you might be wondering:
How do I stand out from the crowd if everyone else is trying to do the same thing?
That’s a good question, and one for which there is an abundance of answers. Let’s review a few of the most effective methods for making a memorable resume.
Tailor Your Resume to Each Job
Submitting a generic resume is about as helpful for getting a job as lighting your hair on fire. People in a position to hire workers can spot a canned resume from a mile away, so to ensure your resume makes it through to the next round, you should tailor it to each job for which you apply.
Many people – not just designers – make the mistake of creating a resume, then looking for jobs. Instead, look at job listings first. Identify what people are looking for in a designer, and then create your resume. This will help inform you as to what it is you need to include in the document to give yourself the best chance of landing a job.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t create a basic template and utilize the bulk of text over and over again. Instead, you should have a go-to form that hits all the high points, but that is easily customizable.
For example, let’s assume you’ve applied for a position as a web designer at a small firm. The job listing notes that they are looking for someone that is proficient in Photoshop and Illustrator, who is a team player, and who can meet strict deadlines. So, you tailor your resume to highlight your ability to meet these expectations. You’d expound on your experience in using Photoshop and Illustrator, and include examples of your work (or links to examples).
You’d also discuss your prior work as part of team, including your specific role in achieving team goals. You would demonstrate how you’ve met deadlines in the past as well, and how your workflow and commitment to the company’s goals help you be someone that consistently delivers products on time.
Show AND Tell: Include Metrics to Prove Your Worth
Web design isn’t just about creating pretty websites. It’s about delivering quantifiable results to your customers. When seeking a job, you must be able to demonstrate the value you bring to the table.
The best way to do this is in the experience section of your resume, like so:
What does the above example show? It lists your experience and with whom, while also explaining what you did. Most importantly, it explains the specific benefits your employer derived from your work. And all that was done in just a handful of words. Sweet!
Use Your Resume to Tell Your Story
One of the best ways to make your resume stand out is to make it personal. Tell your story, because you’re the only one with that specific experience.
Resumes are usually extremely boring to read. Now imagine that you’re hiring for a position and you have to sift through dozens of boring resumes. Then, you come to one that grabs your attention because its author takes you on a journey through his or her experiences, skills, knowledge, and goals.
How do you turn a resume into a story?
In reality, your resume is already set up like a story:
The personal statement is like an introduction. Here, tell people who you are as a web designer. But unlike writing a story, try to avoid large chunks of text. Instead, offer five or six bullet points about who you are, your communication style, your specific skillset, and anything else that is relevant to the job or that makes you unique.
The experience, education, and skills sections of your resume are like the middle chapters of a book. It’s the climax, the point at which you show people how you’re a web design hero ready to slay internet dragons. As discussed above, these sections need to go beyond merely what you did, and dive into what results you produced for previous employers.
The awards or accomplishment section and your references are not unlike the closing of a story. You’ve already explained who you are and what you can do, and in these sections you demonstrate what resulted from your hard work, along with the contact information for people that can vouch for you.
Like many good stories, your resume should close on a high note. It can be difficult to sing your own praises, but in this instance, it’s imperative that you do so. Show the hiring manager exactly what you’re made of and that you’re proud of being such a good designer. Your confidence will shine through and is a great tone for closing your resume story.
How to “Designify” Your Resume
Nothing says, “I have no web design talent” like a resume that was created in Microsoft Word and is set in Bradley Hand. You’re a designer. Don’t rely on templates and make your own resume!
Look at the resume example above. It’s stunning! It looks like it was created by a designer – the fonts are fabulous, the colors are complimentary, there’s a real aesthetic appeal to it, and it includes some snazzy icons as well. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone with that resume?!
The Basic Truth About Web Design Resumes
Someone hiring a web designer will look at the design of the resume as much as the content. To give you the most flexibility, use something like InDesign or Illustrator to create a truly one-of-a-kind resume that reflects who you are as a designer.
Once your masterpiece is created, save it and disseminate it as a PDF. PDFs retain their structure regardless of the platform on which it is opened, so you’re guaranteed that whoever opens it on whatever device will see exactly what you want them to see.
You can also opt to create a standalone website that serves as your resume. There are many out-of-the-box solutions for online resumes, like IM Creator and Wix, that can get your resume online in a jiff, and looking great to boot.
Here’s the deal:
Plain, old paper resumes are so last century. Today’s designers are creating online resumes that are interactive, bold, and innovative.
Get Interactive With Your Resume
Having an online resume gives you much more flexibility (and much more convenience for the people doing the hiring). You can easily link to your online portfolio to show off your work. You can also provide links to your LinkedIn, Dribbble, Behance, or other social media accounts.
There are all kinds of excellent online resume templates out there. Just pick one, add your information, and you’ll have a gorgeous resume and portfolio up and ready in no time!
Choose Colors Wisely
Just like in your web designs, there should be a method to your color madness on your resume. Do you do something classic, like black and white? Do you go for something vibrant and bold? Or do you tone it down and use subdued colors? Each certainly has its merits.
Whatever you choose to do, keep the number of colors to a minimum, say, 2-4, and be sure that they are cohesive. The colors should also give your resume an orderly feel, and draw the viewer’s eye to the most important aspects of the document.
Don’t Go Font Crazy
We all love a good font, but using something crazy on your resume isn’t the way to go. At the end of the day, the whole point of your resume is to get a job. You can’t do that if the fonts you use make it impossible for people to read your resume.
This isn’t to say that your resume has to be in Times New Roman, 12-point font. You can find another font that is as easily legible, but yet has more pizzazz. The folks over at Canva have put together a nice list of the best and worst fonts to use on your resume. Check it out!
Keep Consistent Formatting
Another aspect of your resume to keep an eye on is the formatting. Is your use of fonts, font sizes, spacing, and the like consistent from item to item? Is the styling, such as the heading and subheading fonts, consistent from one item to the next? How is the white space? What about the ease with which your eye moves across and down the page? Basically, treat your resume like you do your web designs. Make it a good experience for the user and good things will happen.
Check Grammar, Spelling, and Other Stuff
Web designers should know how to formulate grammatically correct sentences. Sure, you won’t necessarily be writing as part of your job, but your resume needs to be well written, coherent, and perfectly crafted.
What’s the bottom line?
A resume with grammatical and spelling errors makes you look ignorant and uneducated, no matter how much education you might have. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Don’t let your first impression be a misspelled word!
There are other such things to watch out for as well:
Keep It Short and Simple
You aren’t writing a dissertation. You’re writing a resume. Shoot for no more than two pages. Any more than that and you’ve got too much fluff. Focus on what’s relevant to the position for which you are applying.
Some web designers also feel as though their resume needs to be fancy and flashy in order to draw attention. This is definitely not the case. Using crazy fonts, weird colors, or odd formatting might get you noticed for all the wrong reasons. But don’t take ‘simplicity’ to mean ‘boring’ or ‘uncreative.’ By all means, flex your creative muscles; just be sure that creativity is channeled appropriately.
Don’t Plagiarize or Lie
Your web design resume needs to be your own, not a carbon copy of someone else’s. This goes for both what you say and how you make your resume look. It can be tough for anyone to get ideas for how to create their resume, but this can be a particularly difficult task for new designers that have just entered this field of work.
It’s okay to scour the internet for awesome examples of web design resumes, but just be sure that you use those examples as inspiration and nothing more. Generate your own ideas and develop excellent copy. The result will be a resume that is yours and yours alone!
When you’re just beginning your career, it might be tempting to fudge the truth on your resume. Perhaps you put down that you’re an expert in Illustrator when you really only took one basic class. Or maybe you exaggerate your role on a project to sound more experienced.
To say that lying on your resume is a no-no is a giant understatement. Lying to get a job will be something that hangs over you throughout your employment, which, if your employer finds out, might not be all that long. Why tell someone you’re highly experienced in using Joomla if you’ve used it twice?
Web design is a results-based business; if you don’t have what it takes to produce results, don’t tell people that you do.
Treat your resume like the final deliverable to a web design client. Everything –absolutely everything – needs to look, feel, and be polished. Spending a few extra minutes reviewing your resume before you send it off could mean the difference between sending a resume that is perfect and one that has errors all over it.
If you find yourself struggling with how to get going in the web design business, seek out advice from web design experts to see what they did to get things rolling. We’re fortunate to work in a highly collaborative field. Shoot an email or send out a tweet to a designer you admire and see if they will let you pick their brain.
What web design resume tips would you offer new web designers? Give us your thoughts by leaving a comment!
Life Goals by O5com via Flickr Creative Commons
Stand Out From the Crowd by Steven Depolo via Flickr Creative Commons
Guernsey Grammar School by BenLaParole (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons