Graphic Designer Resumes That Work (2021)
A graphic designer is a professional who assists in creating visual content to communicate messages. They determine visual hierarchy, layouts, typography, photography, and other visual elements to communicate with a viewer. A graphic designer may assist in the development of interactive designers to develop user experiences.
Variations of the graphic designer job title (and role) include senior graphic designer, junior graphic designer, graphic artist, graphic design specialist, entry-level graphic designer, and junior designer.
Writing a graphic design resume requires the job seeker to take a step back from their creative habits and begin to utilize their strategic thinking and written communication skills. By doing this, the graphic designer can write a more comprehensive resume that the hiring manager or human resource team can more effectively comprehend.
A big mistake in a graphic designer producing their resume is that they feel it needs to portray their graphic design skills. The resume itself, including the layout, shouldn’t be an overly creative resume. Your creative portfolio should be included in your resume assets. And intentional links to your website can be impactful for your cover letter and resume.
Resume Writing Guide Applicable to the Following Graphic Design Job Titles
There are a few roles that this resume template can be used for. They are:
- Senior Graphic Designer
- Junior Graphic Designer
- Freelance Graphic Designer
- Art Director
How to Write a Graphic Design Resume
Follow these steps to write an effective graphic design resume.
Step 1: Prepare the Resume Information
Gather the appropriate information to fill the resume with. This includes prior work experiences relevant to the graphic design position, achievements at each one of the prior work positions, hard skills and soft skills, significant career accomplishments, education history, certifications, the job description of the position, and creative work.
Step 2: Find the Right Layout
A graphic design resume should be in reverse chronological format, also known as a hybrid or combination resume layout. This layout style should include a resume objective (or career summary), prior work experience, education history, soft skills, and hard skills sections.
Step 3: Write the Work Experience
Before writing a career objective or career summary, write all prior work experience. Include 3-4 bullet points that summarize significant achievements for the business beneath each job experience. If unable to describe accomplishments for the business, describe projects completed or goals obtained.
If no experience is available for the resume, consider listing an internship or other job experience that shows creative efforts paying off for the business.
Use graphic design resume keywords and action verbs described in this writing guide to make a more impactful and descriptive resume for the hiring manager.
Step 4: Write the Resume Objective
It’s much easier to write a resume objective after the work experience section has been completed. Pull significant accomplishments from this section to write an impactful statement at the top of the resume.
To learn how to write a resume objective, continue reading this guide.
Step 5: Include Education, Certifications, and Skills
Education, certifications, and skills are lesser than important sections on the resume. Education experience might include a graphic design bachelor’s degree. And certifications might include HubSpot certifications or Adobe certifications. List hard skills, which are software like Sketch, Adobe Suite, Framer, and more.
Step 6: Replace Contact Information
When using a template, don’t forget to replace the resume's contact information. A link to a professional website where creative work is displayed can be critical to the hiring manager for a graphic design resume. Additionally, linking to a completed LinkedIn profile can be helpful as well.
Step 7: Compare to a Resume Sample
After completing, compare the resume to a graphic designer resume sample provided in this guide. Ensure all sections have been correctly input into the resume layout and that key skills, competencies, and prior work experience are being described effectively.
Graphic Design Resume Summary
As a graphic designer, it’s best to write a career summary (sometimes referred to as a resume objective or resume summary) or accomplishments section on your resume. A hiring manager should see how you can use your design skills to produce business outcomes than to demonstrate your creative abilities on your resume, for example, a very creative or unique layout.
This recap of your professional experience and accomplishments can be very helpful in your job search. This should go right beneath your resume header and should be one of the first things your reader sees.
Here’s what an ideal summary should look like:
- Assisted with marketing XYZ Company’s major launch, creating more than 10,000 marketing assets and pieces of marketing material
- Increased our lead generation pipeline by more than 23% utilizing tools like Optimizely
This recap is one of the key aspects of a great graphic designer resume. It shows your comprehension of business challenges and not simply your desire to be creative and focus on the graphic designing portion of the work.
Graphic Design Job Description for the Resume
Below is a sample job description for a graphic designer resume.
An experienced graphic designer can assist with marketing material development, web design (website design), multimedia design, brand identity, and take a concept to reality with the Marketing and Communication team. An ideal candidate with a strong graphic design portfolio displays experience in all types of art direction. From brand identity (corporate identity, corporate logos, or company logos) to product packaging.
Job duties and responsibilities
When considering what to include for previous job duties and responsibilities in previous graphic design roles, it can help reference the general job duties of a graphic design position. Below are sample job duties and responsibilities for a graphic designer.
- Use graphic design software and computer software to turn a verbal concept into graphics.
- Take a visual concept from an art director and design graphics around the communications goals.
- Improve the layout of marketing materials, our website, and other design elements.
- Add creative flair to all brand assets.
- Use illustration skills to communicate brand messages.
- Work closely with a Creative Director to oversee projects.
- Work closely with an Art Director to develop creative directions.
- Work closely with a Web Designer on motion graphics, interactive graphics, and more.
- Illustrates a concept by showing a rough layout of art and copy arrangements.
- Assists with the direction of type size, style, and related aesthetic concepts.
- Assists with the final layout of graphic concepts by refining type size, style, color theory, and more.
- Obtains approval of all creative concepts by the Creative Director and Art Director.
- Completes projects by coordinating with clients, customers, and other outside agencies.
While it's always best to read through the job description and job posting to determine the appropriate hard skills, soft skills, work experience, and general requirements—referencing samples can assist with the writing process. Below are sample job requirements for a graphic design position.
- High School Diploma or equivalent.
- Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design or Industrial Design.
- Graphic Design Degree preferred.
- A strong portfolio of creative work and graphic design.
- Ability to use design software such as Sketch, Framer, Adobe Suite (Photoshop, Illustrator, and more).
Graphic Design Skills for the Resume
The skills that a Graphic Designer should focus on would be proficiencies, like the use of certain software and tools and communication skills. Communication skills for anyone in the graphic design position are going to be highly desired. This is because communication skills help you decipher the business objectives before producing any art or graphic work.
Other skills that you should list would be hard skills and proficiencies, which would be some of the following:
- Adobe Suite (Illustrator, Photoshop, InDesign, and more)
- Microsoft (Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel)
- Moqups or Invision App
- Other HTML tools
- Logo Design
- Information Architecture
Additional skills include:
- Layout skills
- Analytical skills
- Attention to detail
- Acute vision
- Time-management skills
- Communication skills
- Handles rejection well
According to Creative Boom, the essential characteristics and competencies of a graphic designer include "communication skills, curiosity, passion and drive, openness, ability to take criticism, problem-solving skills, self-doubt, patience, reliability, and evolution."
Rasmussen College goes on to add that "active-listening skills, clear and concise communication, time management, and the ability to take criticism in stride" are key skills that make a graphic designer highly desirable.
Tip: Watch out, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for graphic designers in the United States is expected to drop 4-7% between the years of 2019 and 2029.
These skills are critical to the design process. And because of that, it should be heavily considered when pitching yourself as a designer. All designer roles will need to be able to operate these pieces of software to do their job.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics defines these qualities and traits as being most important in graphic designers:
- Analytical skills. Graphic designers must be able to perceive their work from their consumers’ point of view to ensure that the designs convey the client’s message.
- Artistic ability. Graphic designers must create designs that are artistically interesting and appealing to clients and consumers. They produce rough illustrations of design ideas, either by hand sketching or by using computer programs.
- Communication skills. Graphic designers must communicate with clients, customers, and other designers to ensure that their designs accurately and effectively convey information.
- Computer skills. Most graphic designers use specialized graphic design software to prepare their designs.
- Creativity. Graphic designers must think of new approaches to communicating ideas to consumers. They develop unique designs that convey their client’s messages.
- Time-management skills. Graphic designers often work simultaneously on multiple projects, each with a different deadline.
Listing skills on a resume can help hiring managers to assess core competencies and other worker characteristics in advance of hiring.
Wondering what a core competency is? A core competency is a concept in management theory introduced by C. K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel. It is defined as “a harmonized combination of multiple resources and skills that distinguish a firm in the marketplace.” And therefore, it is the foundation of a companies’ competitiveness.
Tip: Watch out, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual salary for this position is between $52,000 and $68,000 per year.
How to Choose the Right Skills
To determine the right skills or career accomplishments to share on a graphic design resume, read through the job description or job advertisement (sometimes referred to as a job ad or job posting).
Here's an example job description for a cashier position. In strong are the points in the job description that would align with the sample skills below it.
From the sample job description above, it's clear that customer service is a key skill. Meaning, the cover letter and resume should both include work experiences and skills that allude to having strong customer service abilities.
Graphic Design Action Verbs and Resume Keywords
Use the following resume action verbs and keywords for a cashier resume. The following keywords will assist Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) with prioritizing the resume toward the top of the job applicants list, resulting in a greater chance of the hiring manager or store manager reading the resume and cover letter.
Displays leadership abilities
Displays communication abilities
Displays technical abilities
Displays research abilities
Displays financial and math abilities
Resume Design and Layout
As described at the beginning of this writing guide, your resume design is essential. But not in the way that you might think. If you Google “infographic resume,” you’ll find all sorts of unique examples of a designer resume. If you look at them, you’ll notice these graphic design resumes are beautiful to look at but very hard to comprehend. This can be more harmful to your job search than you might anticipate.
Tools like Applicant Tracking Systems that scan resumes for keywords and insights for the hiring manager aren’t going to be able to read your resume. Focus on the job at hand, the process of producing design work for a business. And accomplishing their business goals versus trying to use a unique graphic design resume template. That will pitch yourself as a professional graphic designer more than you might think.
Graphic Design Resume Sample
Below is a graphic design resume example you should use when applying for a graphic designer job. Use this sample resume as a guide and starting point for your own professional resume writing needs. Remember, this is only a resume example and should be customized to both the job description and company you’re applying to.
Graphic Design Resume Example (PDF)
Graphic Design Resume Format
A professional resume contains these main components and sections:
- Contact Information: The job applicant’s phone number, email address, LinkedIn profile, and other pertinent information.
- Resume Objective: Often referred to as a resume summary, resume objective, career objective, or other. This summarizes a professional's career achievements in less than 200 words.
- Work Experience: A majority of the document will contain relevant professional history (relevant experience) for the potential employer. Includes previous job titles, years employed, and achievements.
- Education: Displays high school, bachelor, and graduate school degrees or information. Includes years in attendance, Latin honors, and other pertinent information.
- (Optional) Certifications: Includes certifications from AIGA or National Association of Schools of Art and Design.
Include a Creative Portfolio
When applying to graphic design positions, it's important to include a creative work portfolio. The portfolio of work should contain a diversity of projects. From branding, typography, web design, and other works that display the appropriate soft skills and hard skills.
The portfolio should be in PDF format, as a multi-page presentation. It should include the graphic designer's actual work, what brand they produced the work for, what year it was produced, and the result of the work.
It's acceptable to use a professional website and link to the professional website as the creative portfolio. This can provide more space to speak about the work and ensure the employer understands the work's creative process.
A creative portfolio can include personal projects. Especially those that may have won awards. For example, if an infographic was published on a major media outlet. Include personal projects that speak to the job description requirements or personal projects that display creative abilities and the willingness and passion for advancing creative skills. Passion is a strong signal for potential employers.
Jared Brox describes, "passionate employees are engaged employees. They believe in the work they do and that they have a vested interest in the success of their company." Including any relevant work experience or creative experience can display a passion for the job and interest in advancing skills as a professional.
Graphic Design Cover Letter
It's important to consider the career accomplishments and stories being shared in the cover letter when writing a resume. For example, if specific examples of delivering graphic design work for clients is being referenced in the cover letter, the resume must contain the work experience that aligns with where that work was accomplished.
Always write a customized cover letter and resume for each job application. Never use the same resume for every job application.
As a job applicant, be sure to note that any information in the cover letter and resume can e used as part of the qualifying questions for hiring managers and interviewers. Be sure that any information shared in the cover letter, and resume are ready to be explained or asked about.
Tip: Avoid generic reasons for applying to any position. Inside the cover letter, use company culture, company objectives, and other passion sources for applying to the position. Never say, "this is my dream job" when explaining a job application.
Graphic Design Resume FAQ’s
Graphic design questions and answers for job seekers.
Should I use a graphic designer cv template?
No. CV’s are not necessary for a graphic designer role. It would help if you used a reverse chronological format resume like the graphic designer resume template provided in this writing guide. A CV template should only be used for academic and science professional positions.
Should I use a resume builder?
If you have never created a resume before, and you’re applying for a graphic design job— you may want to use a resume builder. It can certainly help to ensure the right information and format is in place. Though, the template provided in this guide should be sufficient as well.
How do I list freelance graphic design work on my resume?
Place the work experience on the resume much like any other job. Include the dates that you were either a contractor or a freelancer. And include the company or companies that you freelanced for or contracted for. The listing on the work experience section should look no different than any other previous work experience. Be sure to include a mention next to the job title that states you were a contractor or freelancer.
It should look like this:
Apple, Inc — Freelance
March 2016 - March 2018
Should I list certifications or conferences on my graphic design resume?
If the conference is one that displays a passion for the industry, yes. This would include conferences like AIGA, HOW Design, and XOXO. List the attendance under the "Accolades" section of the resume. Listing these conferences shows that the job is more than a job—it's a hobby and an interest.
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