Resume writing & design

A primer on how to approach writing and designing your resume


Start writing everything you ever did in a word document (Microsoft Word, Google Docs, etc)

  1. 1.
    Duration: (ex. June 2015 - August 2017, or June 2015 - Present),
  2. 2.
    Job position (ex. Graphic Design Intern)
  3. 3.
    Job description (bullet point lists are ideal).
I recommend using a cloud-based application like Google Docs or Sheets to keep all information logged in one place instead of multiple of word.doc files on your desktop.
It serves as good practice to keep track of your work experience, as you never know when you’ll need to reference a job from the past.

Use action verbs for job descriptions

Cheat code for writing a good job description: Look up the companies you like to work at, search for any job listings, and copy it (at least parts of it)!

  1. 1.
    There is no shame in “stealing” information like this.
  2. 2.
    Creativity is strategic plagiarism.
  3. 3.
    Look for keywords in the job descriptions to use throughout your resume.

Proficiency / knowledge of

  1. 1.
    When adding in your skills, it is helpful to list your ability level, especially if you have a range of abilities across different skills
  2. 2.
    Instead of using icons or bar graphs (which can be very subjective), it can be more descriptive to use words such as “proficient” and “knowledgeable”
Example: Proficient in: Adobe Illustrator, InDesign, and Photoshop Knowledgeable in: Autodesk Maya and Adobe Lightroom

Resume Content

Personal Info
  • Name
  • Position
    • Can be as simple as “Fashion Designer”
    • or more creative like “Sentient Motion Designer”
    • or “Creative Storyteller”
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Website
  • Social Media (professional/art/design-related only)
    • Instagram
    • LinkedIn
    • Behance
  • Degree you’re pursuing (ex. BFA in Motion Media)
  • Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
  • Add location(s) underneath (not part of the actual name)
  • Expected graduation: Month Year
  • Scholarship (The exact name), but not including the word “SCAD”
  • Dean’s List Year-Year
  • School-related awards
Remember to only list university-level education. No high school
Work experience
  • Proficient
  • Knowledgeable
  • Native
  • Fluent
  • Conversational
Organisations Certifications
  • Industry-related awards.
  • Remarkable SCAD-related awards could also appear here (winner of design challenge, etc.). SCAD “awards” such as scholarships should only be included under Education, not here
  • What did you do
  • What did you learn
  • Use key art/design terminology to emphasise
  • Example: Painted a self-portrait using complementary colour scheme to....
  • Personal statement
  • Interest & hobbies
  • Professional Blog
  • consistent entries
  • industry-related material

Resume Design Tips

  • Keep it simple: one page (your reader will probably spend less than 1 minute on your page!)
  • Define the margins for your document (eg. 1 inch, ½ inch, ⅜ inch)
  • Layout and content first before you make it pretty
  • Use a legible point size for your typefaces, 9pt or 10pt is a good size to start
  • Use one or a pair of complementary typefaces
  • Do not design your resume with a graphical background or colored border because there will be a white border when you print it
  • If you can’t find anything to edit on your resume, print it out in black and white or in colour.
    • A hardcopy can help you consider
      • Is the point size too small or big?
      • Are there any typos you could not detect on your monitor
      • How does it read when it’s printed in black and white instead of color? (Employers will probably not print it in color).
      • How does it look when it’s photocopied - does it lose any readability?
  • Be consistent (eg. with dates, typefaces, alignment, colour, punctuation)
  • Type specification (size, leading)
  • Avoid Widows & Orphans (help them in real life, but avoid them on your resume ;))
Possible Education Format
Possible Work Experience Format
Format 1: One Location
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
BFA in Major, Expected graduation: Month & Year
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
BFA in Graphic Design, Expected graduation: June 2020
Hong Kong
Format 2: Two Locations
Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD)
BFA in Graphic Design, Expected graduation: June 2020
Hong Kong and Savannah, GA
Format 3: With Honours
BFA in Motion Media Design, Expected graduation: May 2019
Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD)
Hong Kong and Lacoste, France
Achievement Honours Scholarship, 2016 – Present
Format 1: Descriptive
DEC 2015 – MAR 2016
Paint Artist for Stereo Conversion, Double Negative, Singapore
  • Produced multiple clean plates for The Legend of Tarzan film
  • Completed 2-month probationary period & training on company systems & workflow
  • Contributed to company’s shared knowledge & training database by publishing tutorial articles
Format 2: Less content
March 2015 – Present, Graphic Designer
MailerMailer, Inc. Rockville, MD, USA
  • Develop vision, tone, and direction for branding of in-house web products
  • Write and maintain standards compliant CSS/ XHTML for web applications

Adobe InDesign Tips

  • List your resume content in one text frame or as little as you can
    • This makes it more convenient to edit the leading or the tracking across your resume listing and make it consistent
  • Export your resume as a PDF! Do not export as a JPEG or PNG. It is industry standard to use PDF.
  • Name your resume properly before sending it out:
    • Example filename: DesmondDu_Resume_2017.pdf
  • Your resume size should not be bigger than 2mb.
    • If it is, you’ll want to use Adobe Acrobat to compress it.
    • Go to: File > Save As Other > Reduced Size PDF.

A final note about resumes

Resume design is subjective can always be improved

People have different preferences in design thinking, but what truly matters is visual communication of your information. In the end, it’s your document, so be prepared to defend any decisions you’ve made about the document when someone asks you questions.

Resume content will always change according to the job.

There is no one-size-fits-all resume that you can submit to different jobs like designing, animating and teaching. You need to change your resume content to fit the job description. Each resume you develop can be 100% truthful while still showing different abilities you have. For example, if you applying for a teaching position, you could list Teaching Experience as part of your resume and perhaps irrelevant content such as your creative projects.

Content first, design second

Get all your information written to perfection before beginning the design process.

Use spellcheck!

Even design software such as InDesign and Illustrator include a spellcheck option. Use it! Even native English speakers make mistakes - so everyone is encouraged to use it. Also show your document to a friend and have them look over it, as it always helps to have a fresh pair of eyes to check for errors.

A resume is not going to land you a job; it is just a prerequisite

No one is going to hire you just because of how your resume looks. The purpose of the resume is to showcase your skillsets and work history in the clear legible coherent format.