Tips for creating a killer (and creative) resume

As promised, I am working on sharing more career-related content with you all on West Coast Aesthetic and one topic I've been excited to share is the daunting professional must-have: the resume. And more specifically, resumes for creative-types!

Creative resumes are challenging to create because you want to show off just how creative you are all while remaining professional in appearance and what information you provide. I'll be completely honest, I tweak my resume on a monthly basis and do a full redesign at least once every six months - it's the indecisive creative in me. I've been designing resumes and mentoring (specifically) creatives on developing killer resumes as part of my freelance creative services for a few years now and I've decided to compile my learnings into a blog post. I'm sharing My Top 5 Resume Don'ts and My Top 5 Resume Do's. I hope you find them helpful and inspiring as you create (or re-create) your own. 

Top 5 Resume Dont's:

1. Don't forget the essentials. Make sure to include your name, multiple ways for one to contact you (email, phone number and don't forget your portfolio website if you have one!) Consider adding social channels if you are comfortable with potential/future employers looking through them. 

2. Don't rate your skill set. Too often I see a creative resume with a bar graph, percentages or ratings of one's professional skills - it's become a unique way to show off your skill set in a visual way. Here's my issue with visual skill rating: don't sell yourself short! Why put it out there to future employers that you're essentially a B- using Photoshop but an A+ using InDesign? If you have skills that qualify you for the job, list them out on your resume.

3. Don't have old and irrelevant jobs on your resume if they are not necessary. Why have jobs listed out from years ago that are irrelevant to your skill set and the job you are currently applying for? Sure, listing out every job you've ever had can be an excellent space filler - but if you're applying for a creative role, rethink listing out years of nannying or working as a barista if that experience is irrelevant and outdated. I usually stick to a 3-5 years ago maximum rule on my resume where I don't list out any jobs that exceed five years ago. This keeps a resume relevant and to the point.

4. Don't (or try not to) exceed one page. The general rule of thumb for resumes is to never (or try to never) exceed one page and this should be applicable to creative resumes, too! Resumes are often grazed over to ensure you fit the qualifications of the role you are applying for, so think about if you were in a hiring manager's shoes: would you want to scroll or flip through pages and pages of resume? Probably not. Do your best to condense and only keep the necessities to one page.

5. Don't forget about your references. This doesn't mean you have to list them out (unless you want to). I generally use the handy line: References: Available upon request. This will not only save you room on your resume but it shows you are thinking about the anticipated next step of the interview process, where one will reach out to your references. If you do wish to list out professional references, be sure to ask your references in advance if it's okay you list them on your resume. Also, keep the references list short, I recommend only listing 2-3 and the essentials: Name, title, phone number and email address - it's nice to have at least two different ways your reference can be contacted. 

Top 5 Resume Do's:

1. What makes you unique and creative. Don't be afraid to highlight what makes you a stand-out creative. If you're a blogger - showcase your blog on your resume (provide a link, explain what you do for your blog). On my resume, I mention I'm the curator behind Seattle Creative Brunch because it's a great way to showcase I do my part to bring the creative community together. Showcasing your creativity sets you apart from other creatives and adds more depth to you as a person and what you do outside of work. 

2. Show off your brand. You're a creative, right? Show off your creative brand by having your logotype, brand colors, typography and overall look and feel of your aesthetic shine on your brand. Make it you! 

3. Spell check and grammar should never be overlooked. Sometimes creatives get so excited to design their resume they overlook a very important part: spell check and grammar! Be sure to edit your resume thoroughly and get other peoples' eyes on it for spelling/grammar check.

4. Do a print test. Your resume will not always be viewed on a computer so it's smart to do an at-home print test to see what your resume looks like printed out on paper. You'll be amazed how different color and typography (specifically sizes and type weights) can look! Do a print test each time you update your resume and before you send it off to potential employers.

5. Edit, edit, edit (more often than not!) More often than not I encounter creatives that say "I haven't touched my resume in years!" YIKES! One should update their resume on a regular basis to ensure you're staying up to date with work experience, professional skills, education (if anything changes there) and contact information. Keeping your resume up to date will save you a lot of stress later and will eliminate editing time later when you need to apply for a job. 

What are some ways you have developed a stand-out creative resume? Leave a comment below to share your pro tips! 

Allison Wagner1 Comment