Your Online Design Resume: What You Need to Know

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The online design resume is one of the most intimidating things new job seekers have to deal as they begin their careers. Creating an online design resume requires different skills and considerations than traditional print resumes.

Furthermore, most people in a position to give a new job seeker advice about resumes haven’t competed in the job market since online resumes became the standard, so much of their advice doesn’t take the “online” part into consideration at all.

Technology has dramatically changed the way we approach the job market, but there seems to be a reluctance to accept the fact that what made someone successful even a decade ago may not hold true today. The world is considerably faster and smaller than it has ever been.

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Understand that your digital footprint and personal brand are the new design resume.

If you’re under 30, your parents and professors may not understand this, but your online presence is the new resume. Google is a reality in the world we live in—end of story. You can assume that your potential employers or clients will Google you or mine your social media accounts.

If you are working in a media, entertainment or technology-related field this is even more commonplace. With that in mind, you have to understand that the story you tell in your resume has to line up with the experience and actions you convey in your online profiles and activities.

Using a Website as a Design Resume

Over the years, it has become more and more popular to use a website, usually one with your name as the domain, as an online resume. This tactic offers several advantages over a traditional resume, including the ability to be discovered rather than having to submit it online or in person.

Qualified candidates are more likely to be discovered if they have a portfolio site, particularly in creative industries like design and advertising. On your portfolio site, it’s more important to highlight and demonstrate your skills than it is to list your work experience or your GPA. It’s all about helping someone in a hiring position make a “buying decision.”

Need to know what goes into your portfolio? Check out these 10 Essential Online Portfolio Design Elements.

Many designers and other creative professionals choose to host a PDF resume on their website, allowing them to get creative with the presentation and really make a good impression while conveying their abilities. Infographic-style resumes are currently a popular, yet effective trend.

Another advantage of a PDF resume is the potential for interactivity—including hyperlinks and a clickable email address, for example. If designed properly, it can also be printed out, which a potential employer may find useful.

Using LinkedIn as a Resume

LinkedIn is the most popular social networking site for industry professionals. If you’re not already on LinkedIn, you should take advantage of its networking features and use it to build strong contacts and seek job opportunities. LinkedIn asks for all the information an employer would typically want to know about you, while making that information more discoverable through search. It also frequently utilized by recruiters and hiring managers, putting you in the running for opportunities without even applying.

Many online job applications allow you directly import the information from your LinkedIn profile, making it very convenient for your job hunt. Also, LinkedIn is usually the first place potential employers look for you on social media.

LinkedIn also offers many benefits specifically for designers and other creatives, such as the ability to add images and video to your profile and integrate Slideshare decks and presentations.

Common Resume Mistakes

  • Flash Over Substance
  • Leading With Your Education and/or GPA
  • Self Centered Summary
  • Including a Selfie/Profile Pic

The Email-Ready Resume

It’s important to have an email-ready version of your resume. For designers and creative professionals—and for most other professionals—a PDF is preferable to a Microsoft Word document. Try to keep the file size as small as possible to ensure that it can be sent and received without a problem. It’s also great to have a text-only Microsoft Word resume as a backup.

Keep an editable version of your resume available to you in the Cloud should you need to update it on the fly.

Leveraging the Online Resume

If your resume is in an online format such as a digital PDF or a website, don’t be afraid to leverage links and interactive elements. You can use creativity and context to make a great impression.

For example, consider embedding a video resume into your website so you get the chance to show off your personality.

Simplify your employer’s search for your social media presence by pointing them to the accounts you want them to see—and, of course, ensure that the content there reflects your personality in a positive way.

Separate personal and professional social media accounts as much as possible. Try to create consistency between the information about yourself in your social media summaries and your resume’s summary section. Maintain a keen awareness of any images associated with these accounts as they will in many cases have the most impact on your potential employers’ perception of you. Avoid posting inflammatory opinions or overly-personal details in these profiles, especially things a potential employer is not legally allowed to ask you.

An Exercise in Storytelling

Consider your design resume an exercise in storytelling and marketing. Keep it as concise as possible while painting the picture you want employers to envision when they think of you. Convey the results they can expect from you and what the experience of having you on the team will mean for them. Be sure to specifically communicate the value your skills and abilities will offer their business. Make your resume as discoverable and easy to interpret as possible while still being memorable.


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