We see plenty of designers’ resumes here, and thanks to a recent opening at FontShop, have seen and continue to see plenty more. So after a brief discussion with the editorial board yesterday, we decided it would be apropos to spend a couple articles in this series on resumes. Specifically, our own resumes. Ones that can and must stand up to the scrutiny of designers and art directors who are in a position to hire us. I’ll share typography-specific insights as they come up, but for the most part we’ll be sticking with general design principles.
After the cover letter, the designer’s book, or portfolio, is likely the first thing seen by a design studio or agency. If the work is good, the resume generally determines who gets called in for an interview. If the work’s no good, no one looks at the resume. When a resume crosses my desk, it’s a similar process. I see the overall composition first, and then if there’s a demonstrated ability to practice the principles of typographic design, I see the content.
Both the design and content of your resume should exist to serve its audience. Start with the content. Include your name and how you may be contacted, pertinent work and education information, etc. and exclude the rest. Fit it on a single page.
Now you can give appropriate form to your content. (And obviously since you’re the author, editor, and designer, your content can be trimmed or extended as needed to fit the form you give it.) Just to make a quick point, this managing the give and take of form and content happens to be what design is. For all the time we spend styling content and calling ourselves designers because of it, let’s not forget what designers must do in order to be designers.
A few general guidelines and you can take it from here. Create a clear visual hierarchy. Adhere to a baseline grid. Use adequate margins. Demonstrate proper use of typographic scale. Use figures, punctuation and symbols properly. Have a second set of eyes you trust check your work, including final design, spelling, and grammar. Here’s a rough sketch I did.
It’s rare that I’ll give specific instruction on what not to do, but in this case, yes, here are some clear don’ts.
Don’t be too clever with the medium. If the final version is on a nonstandard paper size, make a standard version that will e-mail and print properly without your supervision.
Don’t include the icons of Adobe’s Creative Suite for the purpose of demonstrating the depth of your experience with design software. If you designed these icons for Adobe, you may put them in your portfolio.
In fact, I don’t generally think it’s helpful to list all the software titles you use, ever.
Don’t feel you have to brand yourself. Remember that you’re a person, not a commodity.
That’s all. I’ll go into a bit more depth next week, and maybe touch on the burning question, “What’s the best font for a resume?”