I had the chance to go up to San Francisco last week and check out the Art Institute's graduate portfolio show and chat with a some of the new grads, and while I assume they're well coached by the Art Institute, I felt inspired to give some tips to these grads as they embark on their professional careers in design.
First, I wanted to mention briefly a 2 part blog post on Javaworld about "How to make HR Dump a Programmer's Resume" and "What HR Professionals Look for in a Programmer's Resume." I agree with a large portion of what the other recruiters surveyed said. Though we are more focused on the individual here at techVenture and don't use an automated applicant tracking systems, it is important to consider including certain buzzwords, have your resume in a readable format and leave out relevant skills. For designers, however, the requirements are a bit different.
I'll be honest in saying that recruiting for designers is probably my favorite part of what I do here at techVenture. I love design, branding, advertising and all things visually pleasing. I pride myself in being able to quickly discern someone who gets it from someone who does not, and I am brutally honest regarding those opinions.
Design is not only fun, but essential to a user's ability to navigate your website or application. As someone who screens potential candidates, I thought this might be a good time to give some tips to designers out there who are looking for jobs.
1. Always include a link to your portfolio when applying to a design job. No "ask for samples" or "I'll send you a DVD." If I receive a designer resume that does not link to work samples, 98% of the time, I immediately pass. Why? Because work history and experience are important, but they are secondary to your style. Don't give a reason to be weeded out early.
2. Have a resume that looks like time and effort has been put into it and showcases the specific talent as a designer. Even though the resume is less important than the portfolio, I hate seeing obvious template resumes coming from someone who claims to be a designer. Check out some awesomely visual and creative resumes here.
2. MAKE SURE YOUR LINK WORKS. Self-explanatory? One point that the Javaworld post I referenced earlier stresses is, "Submit a résumé in .doc rather than .docx or Open Office's .odt. If a recruiter can't open your file, I was advised, she's not going to try very hard to find a way to view it." The same goes for a broken link; if it doesn't work on the first try, I'm probably not going to go out of my way to find the site that does work.
3. Update, update, update! If the last time you updated your portfolio site was three jobs ago, don't apply to a position until AFTER you updated it. Read: Do not put a link to a website that is "under construction" on your resume!
4. If you're not a web specific designer or artist, don't try to design your own website! Far too often, I come across a dream resume--great art school, right skill sets, interesting work history and I go to the website and leave within 5 seconds. It frightens me when I go to an artist website and see out of date designs, poor resolution and impossible navigation. To me, it makes me question their eye for design. Ten years ago, this might have been acceptable, but today, there are so many free or paid portfolio sites for artists to showcase their work. There is no excuse for a poorly designed website. I'd MUCH rather see a link to a template portfolio site that clearly showcases the art than someone trying to design something that detracts from the art. Go to Krop, Behance.net, Carbonmade, Coroflot or DeviantArt if you'd like to see awesome examples.
5. Remember, even great artists and designers don't always match the style of the company, so don't get discouraged if you don't get that dream job right away!