Building an effective resume is a crucial step in securing a job in Graphic Design. This article provides detailed guidance on what to include in a resume, how to tailor it to specific roles, and different resume styles to consider.

Key Insights

  • A graphic design resume should include general contact information, work experience, relevant education, relevant projects and assignments, and relevant skills and specializations. It's important to be concise and only include relevant information.
  • There are four general types of job resumes: Chronological, Functional, Combination, and Targeted. Each has its own strengths and weaknesses that should be considered based on the specific role and your personal experience and skills.
  • When building a resume, it's important to tailor it to the specific job you're applying for. Highlighting relevant skills, experience, and interests can help your application stand out and show your suitability for the role.
  • Using visual composition skills to draw attention to the most important information on your resume can be beneficial. However, it's important to avoid being overly elaborate and distracting from the key information.
  • Feedback on your resume from trusted colleagues and professional contacts can be invaluable. This can help ensure your resume is communicating effectively, is easy to understand, and is free of typos and errors.
  • Noble Desktop offers graphic design classes and a graphic design certificate. Students receive individual career mentorship, including assistance in building a compelling resume.

Building a resume is an important part of the Graphic Designer job search, since it is often the first thing that a hiring manager will look at and it can often be the most important part of the first round of cuts during a very competitive job search. This means that you’ll want to ensure that your resume very quickly and effectively communicates your qualifications as a designer. Resumes can be difficult to build because the central question is very often ‘what should I exclude’ rather than ‘what should I include’ because you want to ensure that your resume is only about two pages long. Even novice Graphic Designers are likely to have fairly extensive skills and experience.

What to Put on a Graphic Designer Resume

For the most part, you’ll want your resume to be about two pages long at max, and you’ll want to avoid formatting in such a way that information is crammed in and difficult to easily parse. Plus, there are a few things that all resumes will need to include, which means that it will be even more important to use your remaining word economy. Below are a few things you can expect to want to put in your graphic design resume.

General Contact Information

It is actually incredibly important for a resume to quickly and effectively communicate personal contact information near the top of the document. This will include your name, title, mailing address, phone number, and email address. This is also a good place to list your general design interests and specializations. This should be a short section, ideally the smallest section of your resume. However, it needs to be near the top of the resume to best communicate this information quickly and effectively.

Work Experience

The most important section of the resume should be one that communicates your prior professional experience and demonstrates to hiring managers that you have a background in the field of design. This section should highlight your relevant job experience, so you shouldn’t waste too much space on a complete employment history if it isn’t relevant to the position (many companies will have automatic application portals that let you put in your full work history without clogging up space on your resume). This section should be in reverse chronological order and first provide your most recent (or current) employment information. Each item listed in this section should include a short description of your work responsibilities at that job.


The next section should include your relevant education and professional training history. If you have a college degree, that is what you should lead with here. If you don’t have a college degree, you can put a relevant professional training program, such as a career-certificate program. You don’t want to list every training seminar or course you’ve attended, though it can be useful to single out one or two that are relevant to the job you’re applying for. For example, if, during your training, you took two upper-level animation courses, you may wish to include that information when applying for a job at an animation studio. If you are applying for a job at a magazine studio, it is unlikely that you will want to include this information.

Graphic Design Certificate: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, 0% Financing, 1-on-1 Mentoring, Free Retake, Job Prep. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

Like before, only aim to include relevant information. You don’t need to list every course you’ve taken, you don’t need to include things like high school-level design classes and you shouldn’t look like you are trying to pad out your training. If you don’t have a college degree, use this space to highlight the individual training courses you have taken, though you may want to put them under a general banner, rather than listing them individually. You can also briefly explain the kinds of training you received in these classes. If you do have a four-year degree, you can use this space to briefly describe some of the capstone courses you took.

Relevant Projects and Assignments

Some students who have significant on-the-job experience may want to briefly discuss specific assignments or clients that they have taken on. This is especially important for freelancers looking for more stable employment in a professional design studio. Regardless, it can be useful to quickly communicate the specific on-the-job experience you have to communicate to hiring managers that you’ve been trusted with important assignments. If you don’t have anything to put in this section, it can be a good place to explain the kinds of projects you have worked on in the past (either at a job or in the course of your training).

Relevant Skills and Specializations

This is the section of your resume where you can include all of the specific, relevant skills you have training in that don't easily fit into other sections. So, for instance, if you are certified in a specific design program, you can put that here. If you have led a training program in an element of design, you can put that here. You could put that here if you won an award for some element of your design portfolio. This is often a grab-bag section of the resume-building process that gives you a place to put important professional accomplishments and accolades. As you become more experienced, this section will likely be broken down into smaller, more specific sections, such as training experience or professional accomplishments. Still, at the beginning of the process, it is smart to combine them into a single heading.

You should also be wary of including too many skills that aren’t immediately obvious in their function to the company that would be hiring you. You may be proficient in Microsoft Excel, but if it isn’t important to your job, you shouldn’t include that information. Sometimes, this will shift between job applications, so it is smart to keep this section flexible. For example, you generally wouldn’t want to list that you speak fluent French in this section unless you were applying for a position that deals with many French clients (at which point it would be bad to include this information). Here, it will come down to matters of personal judgment.

5 Graphic Designer Resume Tips

It will be important to make your resume one that stands out from the crowd since this is the step of the process wherein hiring managers are most likely to be culling the pile rather than looking at each application substantively. While a winning portfolio is the most important part of a job application, with a weak resume, you risk your portfolio remaining unseen. Below are a few tips for writing a resume that is effective at communicating information and evocative and memorable enough to earn you serious consideration.

Tip #1: Avoid being too elaborate or too forgettable

One of the easiest ways to get your resume discarded is to treat it like a graphic design assignment rather than a distinct style of professional communication. You don’t want to load your resume with visual touches that don’t convey important information to your prospective employers. The portfolio process is where you will spend time demonstrating your bonafides as a graphic designer. On the other hand, you want to avoid submitting an unmodified word document that includes no visual flourish whatsoever. This may be an ideal way to communicate some information, but it will risk creating a forgettable resume that doesn’t stick in a hiring manager's mind.

This will come down to trial and error, since it is hard to nail on the first attempt. For prospective employees just entering the job market, it can be useful to take advantage of automated design templates in programs like Microsoft Word

Tip #2: Keep Word Economy in Mind

Most application resumes will be no more than two pages long, and this will often be presented as a hard limit. You’ll want to take advantage of all of the space you can here, and the last thing you want to do is ignore a company’s requirements for an application. No amount of information that you’ll add to the third page of your resume will help you more than signaling an unwillingness to follow instructions will hurt. This means that it is vitally important that you use every word you have at your disposal to improve your chances of getting hired.

For instance, you’ll want to junk any superfluous information about your employment and education history. There is no reason to list your high school degree and the job you had while graduating since this communicates to your readers that you are trying to stretch out a weak resume to hit the two-page requirement. In addition, you’ll want to condense any somewhat similar or redundant information into a single part of the resume. For example, if you list your professional training seminars, you don’t need to list and describe them individually. Instead, you can list them together under a single resume line that communicates that you have received extensive professional training.

Tip #3: Tailor your resume to the job

An important part of building a competitive resume is to fine-tune its contents and framing to suit the needs of your prospective employer. If you are applying for a job that handles a lot of print media advertising, you should include resume lines that specifically address your qualifications to work in that field. This can take some time and practice, but it is important that hiring managers see your resume and find compelling reasons to keep it on top of the pile and consider looking at your design portfolio.

You may also want to emphasize aspects of your professional education and training that make you an ideal candidate for a specific position. If you worked on a specific project in a capstone class or as a freelancer, you can include that more centrally in your experience and skills sections to try and impress a prospective employer. If you have a specific skill set that might be useful to this employer, you can make that more central to your resume. If you have a section for your general interests and favorite design projects, altering that to reflect the job you are applying for can be a good use of your time.

Tip #4: Draw the Eye to Important Information

One aspect of the resume-building process that will benefit creative graphic designers is the layout and format. While you don’t want to make your resume overly cute, it is important to build a resume that uses visual composition skills to guide the reader’s eyes to the most important information. Many resume reading sessions won’t have the time to look over and read every bit of every resume, so you’ll not only want to ensure that the important information is front and center but that it is formatted in such a way as to draw your readers attention directly to the important bits. 

Tip #5: Get Feedback

An essential part of building a resume is getting feedback from trusted colleagues and professional contacts. Not only is this a great way to network and to find potential professional references, but it is also a great way to ensure that your resume is communicating what you want it to communicate. It is very easy to get lost in an understanding of knowing what you want to say, which can blind you to how others interpret the text of your resume. Getting professional feedback on the document is an important part of the process.

It is also important to get feedback from less immersed professionals to ensure that the resume's content is easy to understand. Many hiring managers may not be as deeply immersed in the field of graphic design, so it will be important to make sure that your job materials aren’t too loaded with jargon and other difficult-to-parse concepts. Finally, getting feedback is a great way to help ensure your work is typo-free, since a glaring typo might be enough to get your application junked during a particularly competitive job search.

One place to receive this feedback is in a career-focused certificate program offered through Noble Desktop. In addition to receiving hands-on training from expert instructors, students enrolled in these classes will receive professional development training, including one-on-one career mentorship. Part of this mentorship process can be assistance in building a compelling, memorable resume that communicates your strengths as a designer.

Graphic Designer Resume Styles

Aspiring Graphic Designers will also want to consider that there are different types of resumes and different ways to frame your job qualifications. There are four types of general job resumes: Chronological, Functional, Combination, and Targeted. Each has its own slightly different quirks, so you’ll want to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each kind of resume before making a decision, since the last thing you want is to produce an essay that looks and feels focusless or empty.

Chronological resumes are fairly straightforward. They begin with your education and work history, moving chronologically from the beginning of your career to the present moment. These are advantageous because they are very easy to organize and, when done well, they produce a fairly coherent narrative of your path to becoming the designer you are today. This makes it very easy to follow and understand in a short period of time. The downside is that they tend to bury vital information in later sections (sometimes even on page two), and they are harder to tailor to the specific job you are applying for in particular.

Functional resumes tend to downplay the importance of your past education and employment to highlight the specific technical skills that make you an ideal fit for the job in question. These resumes make it much easier to tailor them to the specific job listing and let you put your best foot forward in demonstrating your immediate ability to start working. The drawback is that these resumes tend to obscure your professional credentials, which can sometimes be very important for hiring managers who want to see that you have experience in your field.

Combination resumes attempt to blend the best aspects of a functional resume and a chronological resume. These resumes attempt to use the chronological elements of your job experiences to tell a story that strengthens the functional elements of your resume. These are great resumes for communicating to a potential employer that you have both significant training in the field of design and that you have the work experience required to put that training to good use. The drawback to these resumes is that they require you to have the experience necessary to tell this kind of story since if you have minimal on-the-job experience or most of your training comes from a technical skills program, you may not be able to craft the kind of deliberate narrative these resumes seek to produce.

Targeted resumes are resumes that, as the name suggests, are rewritten entirely for applying to a single position. These resumes will usually be combination resumes that blend together chronological and functional resumes to tell a specific story about your qualifications for this position in particular. These are often the most effective resumes, assuming they are written properly, but they are also the hardest to write. They also require the most time and effort to write since they aren’t easy to transfer from one job application to another. It is highly recommended that you only use these applications for the jobs you most want.

Learn the Skills to Become a Graphic Designer at Noble Desktop

If you want to start a career in graphic design, the graphic design classes offered by Noble Desktop are an excellent place to start. Students can take all their classes remotely or in-person at their Manhattan campus. For students who want to start slow by just learning one popular design program, Noble offers an Adobe Photoshop Bootcamp, an Adobe InDesign Bootcamp, and an Adobe Illustrator Bootcamp. These beginner-friendly courses take just a few days to complete and will provide students with foundational design skills.

For those who feel ready to dive into a more comprehensive program, Noble Desktop’s Graphic Design Certificate might be a better fit. Students will complete hands-on assignments using popular design programs, including Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. This program is ideal for those hoping to start a career as a Graphic Designer. Certificate students at Noble Desktop receive individual career mentorship, where experts in the design industry help craft resumes and portfolios and provide helpful tips for finding lucrative employment. 

If a class isn’t feasible for your current schedule, Noble Desktop has a host of resources on its website to help start your graphic design career. You can browse their collection of articles about Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign if you’re curious about how each program works. You can also review information about other design tools to see if another field might interest you more.