Ask DN: What does your Résumé (CV) look like?

almost 9 years ago from Jonathan Shariat, Designer @ Google | Author @ O'Reilly | Podcaster @ DesignReview

  • James Young, almost 9 years ago

    Out of interest, those who are in hiring positions and review lots of CV's - what are you looking for the most in a CV?

    There's a lot of different approaches just in this short topic and some I'd have have said were a lot better than other in conveying core skill and experience while others look like a lot of filler hidden behind design flourish.

    What's the best balance for someone looking to hire?

    3 points
    • Will BakerWill Baker, almost 9 years ago (edited almost 9 years ago )

      (I'm the art director for a clothing company and do a fair amount of creative hiring. Designers, photographers, videographers, stylists, etc. All of this applies to résumés as well.)

      The most important thing your CV can do is tell me where I can find samples of your work. Everything else—literally EVERYTHING—is secondary. I don't even care what the first letter of your first name is until I've seen your work.

      If I've decided I like your work, the next most important thing is your dimension as a human. If you have anything interesting to say about other expertise or passions you have, share it. This is kind of a slippery slope, though—if you're applying for a UI position, but you also spend a bunch of time writing X-Files fanfiction, definitely let me know. But if you spend three lines telling me that you were a prep cook in high school, I'm just going to think you're insecure about the work you've done and are trying to fill space.

      Beyond that, I just want the basics. Where you've worked, where you went to college (if you did at all—I don't care if you didn't, and actually prefer to hire creatives who studied outside their discipline), and any shows or publications you have under your belt. When possible, telling me exactly where I can find examples of the work you did at/for any of this stuff is great, too.


      • Very clear, very simple, very readable typography. Flashy CVs are bad. Very, very bad. I'm not saying don't try something new—please do, I'm looking at hundreds of these—but this is a document of textual information, not your portfolio.

      • Humor. My eyes are burning and I want nothing more than to stop browsing CVs and get back to the parts of my job that don't make me want to autodefenestrate. Smart, tasteful humor will make me think interviewing you might be more fun than interviewing the next guy or girl.

      • Good writing. If I'm not hiring you to write, I don't need you to be a great writer, but if I'm going to be communicating with you, I need you to be able string a sentence together, or compose a parallel list. Probably 7/10 CVs I review have at least one typo, misspelling, or major grammatical error in them. That shit is fucking inexcusable and will make me want to print out your CV just so I can light it on fire and douse the flames with my urine. If you struggle with English because it isn't your first language, that is totally okay, but your CV is still a professional product and needs to meet certain standards. You can either get help with your writing or just straight-up tell me with an asterisked note or in your cover letter. I'm not going make assumptions about your relationship with language. That would be a dick thing to do.


      • Anything about your process. This is valuable in a portfolio, but if I want to know your modus operandi, I'm going to call you in to talk about it in person.

      • Anything about why you do what you do. I can and will ask you that in your interview, and there's no way to explain to me in writing why you are passionate about graphic design without sounding like a complete douche.

      • Humor. If you aren't absolutely certain what you're doing is funny, DO NOT RISK IT. I would rather get a text message from a stranger saying that he just ran over my mom and has kept driving and will never be caught and hahahaha than read your stupid joke. Do you have any idea how embarrassing that is for me, reading your joke? It's like being caught masturbating by my mom who was just run over.

      • Any unnecessary elements. Flashy graphics, background textures, a stupid photo of your ugly face, a million colors—all clutter that just gets in the way of your CV doing what it's supposed to do: tell me what you've done. Even if all these things make your CV look beautiful, they are not necessary, and will probably just annoy me. Granted, this has a lot to do with my design philosophy in general (the ol' less is more), but I think most hirers would agree that the words are the most important things on your CV.

      I could think of a million more turn-offs, I'm sure, but it's Friday and I want to go home.

      Good luck!

      12 points