Create a Killer Resume and Cover Letter

Unleash Hidden Value in Your Design Resume

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Standing out from the crowd is important if you are a designer trying to make it in today’s market. There are certainly a lot of jobs and projects to win, but there are also more designers competing for them. Standing out from the crowd is how you get noticed more often, and one of the ways you can stand out is by creating an exceptional graphic design resume.

A good resume will not only get you noticed, but it can also get you that job interview or a chance to present your ideas for a project. Before you can get to that stage, however, you need to think about how you can make your resume different from the competition. It is time to take a look at the best tips and tricks on how to boost the value of your design resume.

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Create an Online Portfolio

You can only fit so much into a compact PDF file. Resumes need to be of a certain size, especially with potential clients now adding file size restrictions to their vacancy ads. Rather than squeezing your best work into a small PDF file, set up an online portfolio where your work can really shine.

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Setting up an online portfolio is easier than you think, especially now that you have Format and other similar platforms just a couple of clicks away. In the case of Format, you can set up an online portfolio website and start uploading your latest designs and illustrations in minutes.

There is another advantage of using Format as your platform of choice. The platform is also equipped with advanced features such as built-in e-commerce capabilities and client-proofing tools. Should you decide to handle a project on the platform or to start selling merchandise, one click is all it takes.

With the online portfolio created, it is time to add a link to your resume. A clickable URL or icon is the best way to go. You can also add a call to action so that the hiring manager reading your resume knows how to find more of your past work.

Forget Microsoft Word

Since you are creating a resume as a graphic designer, using Microsoft Word and sticking with a formal layout is certainly not the way to go. This will only make your resume appear boring; there may even be hundreds of other designers with the same layout and writing style out there.

Using popular templates without further editing is also a big no. Once again, you risk having a resume that looks similar to hundreds – if not thousands – of other resumes. The goal here is to stand out from the crowd, so ditch Microsoft Word and open up Adobe Illustrator or Sketch to make something special.

In the case of using resume templates, you can use the one you like as a starting point. Just make sure you customize the template to make the end result really unique.

Think About Branding

How do you want to be recognized as a designer? Do you have a particular style that you incorporate into your designs? These are the questions you need to ask yourself when creating a graphic design resume. More importantly, these are among the questions that the resume needs to answer.

The hiring manager you are approaching is going to be asking the same set of questions. The better your resume can answer them, the more chances you have of getting hired for the job or the project.

Branding is also a great way to separate yourself from the crown in a wider market. Develop a logotype, choose a colour scheme and a design style, and create a resume that tells a good story of who you are as a designer.

Fine-Tune the Details

Speaking about design style and colour scheme, your resume will be seen as a reflection of your work. You can really capture the attention of potential clients by showing how detail-oriented you are when making designs and illustrations.

There are a lot of things you can fine-tune, but fonts and colours are the two that you want to begin with. The font (or fonts) you choose says a lot about yourself as a designer. In the case of a resume, you want a font that is both readable and attractive at the same time.

With colours, moderation is the key. Limit the number of colours you use in your resume or go big with colours that complement each other really well. The choice is yours to make; just remember that that choice needs to represent your brand perfectly.

“Although it might not make much sense, consider including your personal hobbies on resumes you send out. Remember – you’re trying to stand out from the other 120-odd applicants that apply for the average job opening here in the United States. Being unconventional – without sacrificing being professional – can increase your chances of netting an interview.” – Breaking the Mould: 5 Tips for Spicing up Your Resume

Don’t Forget the Content

You can have a stunning-looking resume and still not land the job, and there is a good reason for that. The hiring manager will not only look at your resume from a visual standpoint but also review its content in great detail. Now that you have a good design in hand, it is time to work on the content itself.

Make sure the resume content is error-free. Write the resume first, and then do some self-editing to further shorten the resume and make it more readable. Avoid including too many details and try to incite curiosity as you explain who you are as a designer.

A common mistake is writing long explanations to mask your lack of experience. While this may seem like a good idea at first, it is not the approach you want to take. Rather than trying to write a long resume, let your work – the samples you include in the resume – do the explaining.

Don’t Lie!

Masking your lack of experience is one thing, but lying about it completely is another. Trying to land a job as a young designer just getting started is not easy, but lying in your resume could potentially ruin the rest of your career. It is the one mistake you DO NOT want to make.

Once again, the solution is letting your work do the talking. If you have no prior experience, start a couple of personal projects and tackle it the way you would handle projects from clients. Make mock-ups, do sample designs, and simulate different situations to let your work shine.

Don’t forget to add the samples and mock-ups to your portfolio too. Spend more time doing mock projects once you are done with the initial ones. With mock projects, you actually have more freedom (and opportunities) to show what you can really do.


There is no such thing as one resume for every job opening. Sending your resume to a long list of potential clients is not how you stand out. It is even worse when you use the same cover letter – taken from a template – for them all.

Make your resume more personal. Add details that would make potential clients recognize how the resume is made specifically for them. You don’t have to make big changes; include small details and alterations that will get you noticed better.

Last but not least, write a killer cover letter that is equally personalized. A catchy subject line would not hurt either. The combination will help you stand out better for sure.

Once you stand out from the crowd, landing that next project or a dream job you have always wanted is a lot easier. Don’t forget to update your online portfolio website and the resume itself to stay ahead of the market.

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