5 Ways to Build and Improve Your Design Resume

by Theresa Christine Johnson on 02/28/2017 | 4 Minute Read

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It’s pretty common to ignore your resume until you actually need to send it to someone. When you’re happily employed it goes unopened on your computer indefinitely, and if you’re freelance you might be so busy hustling for work that you hardly get the chance to look at it. But revisiting your resume regularly to build it up ensures you’re constantly pushing yourself and growing as a designer. If you’re looking to beef up your design resume, here are 5 things you can do:

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Matt Manos, Founder and Managing Director of verynice, is a firm believer in volunteering time and skills—after all, he’s based his company on a Give Half model. Aside from the karma points and overall life enrichment, offering pro-bono work has added benefits like networking that can in turn lead to other (paid) opportunities. Volunteer work can also give you the chance to expand your capabilities as a designer for the type of work you ideally want to do.

“Offering new services for a fee can be difficult without the proper ‘proof’ that you know what you doing,” Manos explained. “As a result, pro-bono work can be beneficial for freelancers/studios/agencies who are looking to roll out a new service. By approaching a non-profit, and offering to help them for free in order to test out a new service or method, you can boost your credibility.

If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities near you, Idealist is an excellent place to start.

Start a blog

Okay, yes, we’re a little biased on this one. After all, The Dieline started as a blog and passion project of Andrew’s, but has transformed into a business, an international packaging design competition, and a worldwide conference. None of that would have been possible without the blog, though.

Not only does blogging give you full artistic freedom (something that you may not always get in the workplace), but a blog can build you up as an authority and also complement the other skills and experience on your resume.

Beyond that, it gives potential clients or employers a unique chance to know you better—something that a list of education and skills won’t. “As we have been expanding our agency, it has become apparent that knowing a candidate’s personal narrative is essential,” mentioned Shannon Gabor, CEO and Founder of Clever Creative. “Building a creative team is equal parts talent and equal parts culture fit.”

Take a class

So this one might seem obvious, but hear us out—taking a class doesn’t have to entail physically setting foot in a classroom. The interwebz has brought us things like Skillshare, Lynda, and even YouTube tutorials which give you the opportunity to take class from the comfort of your own home and on your own time. Online workshops and classes require more self-learning than a traditional classroom setting, and this can be a different yet effective way to learn something new.

We certainly won’t knock enrolling in a course at a community college, but unless your goal is a degree then you have many other options. Online courses are perfect for bulking up your resume’s skill section without wreaking havoc on your busy schedule.

Check out The Dieline’s Package Design: From Concept Sketch to Presentation online course.

Consider your (seemingly) irrelevant experience

“The design industry is a saturated one, and it's difficult to innovate,” Celina Pereira, Partner of OSSO Design stated. “However, if we can see people who are able to think broadly, empathetically, and out of the box—then it gives employers hope that there is room for newness.

Sure, your knowledge of all things related to astronomy or the year you spent backpacking in South America may not seem worthwhile to include. But while these things aren’t directly related to design, they still add some serious value to your resume. This type of experience can help you look at and utilize design in a new way, giving you a deeper understanding of your craft.

Get on social media

Social media isn’t just for hilarious memes and political debates with distant relatives. Are you truly using Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms to your benefit? “Taking full advantage of your presence on the web could easily mean the difference between being memorable and landing an opportunity, or just being another name in the stack,” Roberto Blake mentioned on HOW Design.

Social media fluency is a valuable skill to have in and of itself, and it can certainly help you with employers or clients who want to stay on top of digital trends. Additionally, by following a social media strategy for designers, you can have profiles that legitimize you in the industry or offer an insight into your creative process—something that a single sheet of paper simply can’t do.

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