One of the areas young designers will always need help with is their resume. A good designer does not necessarily translate to a good resume writer. In my three semesters of deep advisor immersion – I must have repeated the following advice at least twice a week, maybe five times a week near the end of the semesters.

Preface to Content – Resume Design
First things first – do not over design your resume. Do not use one of the free fonts off dafont. What’s supposed to stand out is the content of your resume — not the fact that you have heirarcheal inconsistencies due to too many fonts being used. A good rule of thumb is to keep it simple. Keep it clean. Keep it classic.

Now onto the substance. Following is a good model of the order and content for a student designer’s resume:

Name and Contact Info

Of course, you should put your name and contact info at the top of the page. It needs to be easily distinguished and legible. The most important information is your name, phone number and email.

Personal Statement (your objective / goals)
Write a short statement about the position you want and your goals in the field. Add a bit of how you stand apart and how you – above all other designers of the same level – can benefit  the employer if they take the risk on you. Some resumes have a brief one sentence statement. Some have a paragraph. Just make sure its well written, spell-checked and absent of clichés.

Education
Your Degree and Major (e.g., BFA in Graphic Design)
— Date of (Expected) Graduation (Month and Year)
— College You Attended
— Location of Your College (City and State)

Experience
List the jobs you’ve had — since the beginning of college — newest job first. oldest job last. For each job, include the job title, dates, location and a brief description of your role. If you have design internships – list them first. I tend to like to see students who have experience in retail or restaurants. Especially if they held the job longer than 6 months. It shows responsibility and that you’ve had a job before – but most importantly that you know how to work with people. But know how to edit yourself as well. Hopefully you don’t have more than 8 jobs to list. You don’t want it to look like you hop from job to job – it’s good to be able to hold a job for a long period of time – otherwise, you could come off as a risky investment.

Capabilities

Under capabilities, detail the abilities you have such as: ability to manage multiple projects at once; experience working with groups and individually; strong copy writing skills, etc. Only list those capabilities that you can assert with the confidence to back them up. You don’t want to be proven wrong.

Software Skills
Here you list the programs you know how to work in and if applicable, program languages that you know. You can add “intermediate” or “expert” to each software qualification — but be cautious. “Expert” to a design student is far from “expert” to an experienced creative. So, it might be best to keep this list to program names only.

Awards
Designers love awards. List any awards or contests or annuals you may have been featured. Include art shows that you may have had a fine art piece in. You should also include academic honors.

Organizations
If you belong to any organizations – whether they are design related or not – you should list them. Note any leadership roles as well within these organizations.

References
At the end of your resume, note “References available upon request.” You can bring the reference attachment (same design as your resume and on a separate sheet) to your actual interview. I recommend having no less than 3 references. List your reference’s name, job title, association. By association, I mean were they an adjunct / professor, or someone you did design work for, or someone you worked for outside of design (limit the latter type to one if you have three references, two if you have more). Also for each reference, include email and phone number.

Ask the reference for permission before you include them on your list — and really think about whether they will give you a good recommendation or not. Their impressive title does not matter — if they won’t give a good one. Your potential employer will call – so don’t chance it.

Before You Send It Out

Once you’re done writing your resume, have people with good writing skills – especially those experienced with writing and receiving resumes – proof your resume for errors in spelling or grammar. Don’t get sensitive. The best thing any one can do for you at this point is to find them – because if they don’t, the employer will. Also – check for formatting consistencies. Are your bullet points  just statements, or are they bulleted sentences that end with periods? Is the heirarchy right? Is the type large enough to read? Just because you like using 8 pt type doesn’t mean the hiring creative can read it. Once you correct any of the errors found – spell check and grammar check it again. Go over it at least two or three rounds with two or three different sets of eyes.

And last thing to remember when sending out your resume — is relax. Remember the following: the person receiving your resume knows its coming from a student or recent graduate. The person receiving your resume is looking for potential — not an experienced senior designer. So again — relax. You’re going to have to do this again, most likely. But it’ll get easier, and hopefully, you’ll get to add more experience and more awards to it.