Resume Freedom

For those of you who hire Engineers/Designers, how much freedom do we have to play with the format of a resume before we’re shooting ourselves in the foot?

Good question.

Lets start by talking about a designer’s resume. Im not sure I would include designer/engineer in the same discussion (or do so at your own risk)…

Like portfolio/teaser design I would say the same key things are important.

(in no particular order)-

  1. Content (you can have as much sizzle as you want, but with no steak, it aint gonna help).

  2. Appropriateness to target company/department/industry etc. Most likely your approach will (or should!) be different if its going to a Creative Director, Sr. Designer, CEO or HR person. Also likely different if you’re targeting a toy company or IBM or a small consultancy.

  3. Appropriateness for you. Not only personality, but experience I think as well. A 30yr veteran of the industry is different than a fresh outta skool kid.

  4. Communication. Kinda goes with content, Your content should still be readable, and should be enhanced by the design, not buried. Overall your design and content should communicate one message and you should not lose sight of the purpose of the resume which is to communicate your skills/experience, etc.

Ive seen lots of variations of resumes across my desk over the years (and experimented with lots for my own CV as well). A MS Word on blank paper sucks for a designer. Im so bored looking at it I can barely get past a potential employee’s first name down to any good experiences they may have.

CD-rom interactive flash resumes are pain in the ass. Maybe in addition to a paper one, or with a portfolio could be OK, but only sending a CD will not do the trick.

Experiment with layout, color, design, size (to some degree), format, and have fun expressing yourself. a good design should give in a 5 sec look an overivew of you skills as a designer.

If you cant do graphics for some reason, Id even suggest hiring a graphic designer to do the trick. Its as important as a company’s branding identity and they dont leave that to the mailroom guy playing around with WordArt.


A resume (CV) is a functional piece.

I want to see where someone has worked and what school they went to within 5 seconds.

In the next 15 second glance I want to see what positions they held, and what they did at those jobs.

Everything else is gravy, just make sure you have a proportionate amount of turkey. Nothing worse than a whole boat load of gravy with no meat. It can be difficult to fess up to not having much experience, but I’d rather see honesty, than lots of fluff.

well put. nice bit about the turkey thing too.

Also, your point about WHAT they did is a good one. Ive seen lots of CVs with only their job title listed which doesnt say much. Especially a standard title like Deigner, or Jr. Deigner. a few lines or bullet points of your achievements in real terms can go a long way.

Remember, you are trying to stand out with 100s of other designers, so it comes down to what youve done and what you can do for the prospective company.


don’t suppose you two can provide link to one you like and one you don’t? always nice to see varying tastes on this site.

When I was graduating from school I sent out teaser cards, the first one was my resume and the other dozen or so were showing all the different projects I had done. I included with these teasers process book for one of the projects and in my cover letter indicated that similar process work was available for all of the projects.

The front of the resume card was a graphic of where I had been and the back was information on what I had done.

I sent these cards out both hard copy and digitally. They worked really well. They allowed me to give prospective employers a taste of the wide variety of stuff I’d done and a quick glimpse of my process.

Then when they had me in for an interview I would just lay out all of the cards and ask which one they wanted to talk about. They’d pick, and I’d pull out the process book for that project. That way I didn’t end up talking about projects they couldn’t care less about.

I don’t think you want to be too “cute” with your resume, but inventive, creative and unique are somethings you might want to be when showing people where you’ve worked and what you did there… just remember to be to the point. When people get “cute” usually important information is lost in translation, or hidden by the “cuteness”.[/img]

is one of the most novel, realistic approaches I’ve heard.

An over designed resume is as bad as a poorly designed resume. Whay Yo says is accurate. I’ve reviewed hundreds of resumes, designers and engineers, and it becomes brutal: 3 - 5 seconds and decision is made. You can use format to emphasize information Yo describes.

What I looked for:

  1. Overall clarity.
  2. Experience related or transferrable to my immediate need including brief description of role / responsibility.
  3. Education, qualifications
  4. Extras: additional training, patents, recognition, publications, conferences, etc.
  5. 1 - 2 pages, 3+pages = recycle bin.
  6. Proper grammer and spelling.