A while ago I wrote an article called ‘6 things I hate about your design CV’.
People said it wasn’t constructive. People said it was too sweary.
So, here’s another utterly subjective rant, but with a little more positivity this time. I promise not to say ‘fucking’ twice…
1. You kept it concise
Unfortunately, the time somebody spends reading your CV will be measured in seconds or milliseconds, rather than minutes or hours. You have no choice but to keep your CV short. Else the most important information might be missed.
Unless you’re Paula Scher, there’s no reason you need more than a page to list your most important accomplishments.
2. You didn’t overthink it
A design CV will always be secondary to a portfolio. It has a pretty basic function, but it still has an important role. It needs to quickly convey key information that can’t necessarily be gleaned from a portfolio website. Like; where you’ve studied, where you’ve worked, with whom, on what. You could come up with a crazy new way of presenting all this. But do you really need to?
Question whether you need that visual clutter. Be proud of your achievements and let them speak for themselves.
3. You focussed on outcomes rather than tools
I saw a CV recently that did this fantastically. Under each item in their ‘work experience’ section they wrote several bullet points. These said things like ‘designed marketing campaign that boosted monthly sign-ups by 75%’. And, ‘launched new website, increasing traffic by 200%’. The statistics weren’t what impressed me. It was the fact that the candidate clearly understood their role as a designer within a corporate environment. They understood that they were being employed to provide value and not just to operate Photoshop.
Few people really care whether you use Sketch, Photoshop or MS Paint. They’re interested in the end result. Instead of listing software proficiencies, consider using the space to better explain project outcomes and the solutions that you delivered.
4. You listed personal projects
Personal projects are perhaps the most important thing that I look for on a CV or in a portfolio. They’re an essential part of anybody’s resumé; whether you’re a rookie trying to get a foot in the door, or a creative director with years of experience.
Personal projects show that you’re are intrinsically motivated. They demonstrate passion and commitment; qualities that are essential in order to be good at well… anything. Do you create illustrations in your free time? Did you start a blog? Do you speak at your local design meet-up? Tell me about it.
5. Great type
I’m a little biased on this one. But if you’re applying for a design role, I think there’s a reasonable chance that somebody who likes fonts might see it. Somebody might notice if you use Neue Haas Grotesk instead of Helvetica. Or that you chose to turn on discretionary ligatures. They might appreciate your careful choice of leading and measure. I once spent 20 minutes trying to identify an unusual font choice used on a CV. That’s a win. If you just use 12pt Myriad then you’re really missing a trick.
Show some fucking personality. Sorry. But if you want to sit next to me for eight hours a day, then at least pretend that you’re interesting. Mention things you like doing and things that you’re proud of (outside of design and your career). If you happen to like climbing, monotonous techno and ranting on Medium then I’ll probably invite you for a chat. Without even checking your work.
Fit is it.
There’s no such thing as a perfect CV. It’s a subjective topic and everybody will look for different things. But, if there’s one thing that I think that you should take from this post, it’s that you keep things concise. Many design roles that are advertised will likely get hundreds of applicants. You need to be able to communicate important information in a matter of seconds.
A simple resumé with a clear hierarchy of information, bereft of unnecessary clutter demonstrates two things. It shows confidence in the substance of your CV. And it actually shows a firm understanding of good design. Simple!
What’s your advice for writing a design CV?