Is a graphical/original resume a good idea for a designer?

This is more a question about graphic design as a field than about methods.

I am applying for web designer jobs out there, and have been wondering more and more about my resume. I have a quite correct but very classical resume: photo, text, and voilà.

I am hesitating more and more on create a more graphical resume (more original arrangement, maybe even an infographics). I am not worried by my ability to do it, but more by its reception.

No matter how “cool” the company is, I still imagine the recruiting person as a stern “suit guy”, who might not appreciate this kind of initiative. And I can’t really send the basic resume and the original one, and a note “Here is my fun resume, but if you are a boring person, my boring resume is attached.”

So, if possible based on personal experience, is a graphical/original resume a good idea for a designer kind of job?

What is the average ratio of companies where it would help? (if 1 company out of 100 would like it, but the others like it, well, that might be problematic.)

Is there a “too much” line not to cross?


Thank you for visiting the Q&A section on Magenaut. Please note that all the answers may not help you solve the issue immediately. So please treat them as advisements. If you found the post helpful (or not), leave a comment & I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Method 1

As someone who looked over résumés, I would be more impressed by a résumé which was elegant and a little different but readable than something with enormous graphics, fancy fonts, or blinking text. Or glitter.

Remember that the readers are going over dozens of résumés in every batch. They need to look for keywords, for skills, and for experience. A nicely-designed résumé will be more memorable, but if it’s too fancy, I won’t be able to find quickly where you’ve spent 10 years working in magazine layout.

My personal rule of thumb would be “no fancier than a formal wedding invitation,” if that makes sense.

Method 2

You should probably consider several different versions of your resume – possibly one that’s very traditional / sedate and one that’s a little edgier. You should be doing a little research on any company you go to work for; it should quickly become clear which resume will be appropriate (just as you should be prepping for the interview by asking “khakis or tie?”).

Since you’re applying for web designer jobs prospective employers should be checking out your web portfolio (you do have an on-line portfolio, don’t you?) which will give them a better idea of your scope, style, etc. Let your portfolio show off your skills and range; let your resume show off your history and experience.

Method 3

I like resumés with a bit of flair. However, you should keep in mind form vs. function. If a resumé goes too far into form and loses function it’s pretty worthless.

I’d suggest using the necessary items and making them graphical in nature with nice headlines, use of font faces, etc. I would never put a photo on a resumé, ever. And I’d be hesitant to use any graphic elements other than a few, well placed, rules or small (purposeful) items.

There’s a great deal one can do with simply text. And sticking to text will get you past the HR reps that would never understand a graphic resume while at the same time showing a potential Creative/Art Director what you can do when confined to a few elements.

For me, the key to a good resumé is always a unique and fresh approach to creating something immediately readable and legible while at the same time presenting the information is something more than straight 12 point type.

As lawndartcather posted, you can always use the web site to show off more of your graphic sense. The resume is only to get them interested enough to look at the web site and pick up the phone.

Method 4

The purpose of a resumé is not to land a job. It is to land an interview. This important distinction is easily forgotten. It is the interview, and any follow-up meetings, that will get (or lose) you the position you’re applying for.

To get a job that makes you want to get up in the morning, keeps you excited through the day and leaves you with a happy buzz in the evenings, pick companies that fit your style and personality. Don’t just shotgun your applications out to everyone who’s advertising. (In fact, your ideal job might be with a company you admire but isn’t advertising, who might still take you on just because you’re their type of person and you took the trouble to contact them.)

Follow lawndartcatcher’s advice and do your own research. Tailor your resumé accordingly. The fact that you did some research (your cover letter should indicate as much, and why you think you would like to work there) will give you major credibility. 90% of job applications show no initiative at all (not to mention literacy), so you’ll be in the top 10% of candidates just by that fact alone.

A young firm with a crazy, idiosyncratic style will appreciate an application that shows you “get it.” The same goes for a big, conservative organization. Just as with design in general, it’s all about who you’re talking to. Like Lauren says, you don’t necessarily want to go too wild, but if you’re not a conservative type of person, a conservative firm is probably not where you should be applying.

Your portfolio, when all is said, is 100 times more important than your resumé. That, and how well you communicate in the job interview, are what will land you the job.

Keep in mind that a company doesn’t hire you for what you’ve done in the past, but for what you will do for them in the future. That should be the substance of your conversation.

Method 5

Resumes are a very specific type of document. A resume isn’t there to give the recruiter/hiring manager an idea of your design abilities or creativity; it’s there to give them a summary of your experience (work, education, and relevant outside activities).

That’s why resume’s are in short bullet-list form broken down by chronology and/or expertise rather than containing paragraphs of text that would better express the applicant’s personality/character or creativity.

Most creative job postings also require that the applicant submit a portfolio. This is where your creativity and technical competence is going to be measured. And that’s where you can show off innovative and technically impressive projects.

There probably are recruiters out there that might look favorably on an infographic-style resume, but most probably won’t. And it’s not because they’re a “stern” suit who doesn’t appreciate your initiative. It’s because infographics make poor resumes. It would be the same as if a job posting specifically asks for a “resume and portfolio” but instead you submit a resume and a letter of recommendation. Sure, it could be a very glowing recommendation, and you can call it “initiative”, but they still need a portfolio in order to evaluate your abilities.

It’s also kind of a cheap shot. Most people know a resume isn’t a portfolio, and they respect the instructions given by recruiters. You’re taking advantage of their respect for the hiring process to make yourself appear more “creative” than the other applicants. Though, the type of recruiter who’d fall for this instead of just looking at portfolio quality probably isn’t representing the best employer.

IMO, the honest and most effective way to impress employers is to optimize each piece of your application for its intended purpose. Put together a breathtaking portfolio of your most professional work, and include a resume that’s as easy as possible for the recruiter to consume.

I mean, resumes have evolved over time into a particular format for a reason. This is the form that recruiters who have to wade through stacks and stacks of them to select the right applicant have found to be the most efficient for the task. If you really think you can improve on them in that respect, then by all means do it. But improve on their usability rather than just changing things for the sake of being different and to show off how quirky or edgy you are.

If you want to stand out, you can always go the extra mile and have your resume printed on high quality stationery or include something extra in your application, e.g. make that infographic but include it in addition to your resume rather than in place of it.

Method 6

I think there are some good answers here, but I feel like there’s one or two points missing.

(Now, I have never looked into other people’s resumés myself, nor am I a very experienced designer. So the following may not be right or as important as I feel it is. Still, let me share my thoughts.)

First off, you mentioned providing both a fancy resumé and a plain/’classical’ one. I wonder about that, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. Let’s say you apply for a job, the employer receives your letter/e-mail, and checks it out. This may be different per employer; but I can imagine most employers would first look into your resumé, and if (s)he feels you might be a potential candidate, (s)he will check out your webportfolio (and I agree with the others, it’s probably important to have one). In a lot of cases, this employer will get several job applications, and has to pick only one out of these. If you have a nice looking resumé, it will stand out.

Of course, your resumé must always be clear. And since you are limited if you want to make a visual resumé that is clear and provides all the required info you’d put in your resumé, you might want to choose to stick to a minimum of info in your ‘fancy’ resumé, and provide a complete oversight of all info in a standard looking one.

Secondly, reading some remarks about choosing which you will send based upon research, I think this won’t always work so well. Putting aside the fact that most companies provide little info about their posture, mentality and atmosphere on their website, it’s always the people you are trying to convince of your capabilities, not the company itself. And info about the employer who is going to look into your resumé, is something you will find hardly anywhere.

I myself do choose for a visual resumé and aditionally a complete, classical one. I would send both, or just the visual one, and refer to both my complete resumé (if not attached to the letter/e-mail) and online portfolio.

Method 7

When applying for a creative position use a couple different resumes.

It is standardized and recommended that your first regular resume be a 1 page word document obeying conventional format. (Word because some companies feed your resume into their data base for keyword searches, believe me many want/require your resume in Word.

Your regular resume can contain a live link to your creative resume. This is where you can show what you can do, and I recommend showing them how you can format information to be even more scan-able, logical and easy to consume.

I wouldn’t make it too fancy, Use the typography techniques of font, size, position and color to show your creativity.

Or do whatever you want for your creative resume. Look up “Best Resumes” to see some of the amazing stuff others have done.

I wouldn’t worry about paper, material, printing or folding booklets. Its all electronic now.

Your portfolio should support your resume in look, tone and feeling.

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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