Most of us are familiar with the saying, “Show, don’t tell.” For those of us working in creative industries, this should be your mantra when building up your résumé. With the rise of the gig-economy and freelance job platforms, which are now home to an abundance of talented freelance designers, illustrators and more, it’s essential when looking for work that you build a stand-out résumé.
Before you start filling up the pages with every job you’ve ever had, it’s important to consider the various factors that make a great résumé. Whether you’re a writer, designer, or content marketer, a good résumé has to showcase your best work in a professional, inventive manner. For creative types, a great résumé is like telling a story. So before you hit the ground running, here are 4 tips for building a standout creative résumé that will help you along the way.
1. Invest in a Portfolio
When it comes to applying for jobs and projects within the creative industries, having a portfolio is a must. This is especially important if your work is primarily visual. For example, even if they already have a perfect résumé, the majority of designers today compliment their CV’s with an online portfolio. And, thanks to the likes of user-friendly platforms like Squarespace, Wix, and WordPress, it’s pretty easy these days to get your site up and running in no time.
No matter your expertise, it’s vital that your portfolio makes a great first impression. Ensuring that your portfolio is user-friendly, will allow potential clients and employers to get a sense of your skills right off the bat. So when you are ready to send over your résumé, remember to include a link to your portfolio in the contact information.
2. Do Not Show Off Just Yet
While developing your résumé, it’s important to not show off too much. Save the bulk of your creative energy for when you actually get the job. Striking a balance between eye-catching material and a professional format is key when still in the application process. If you are a designer or an illustrator you may certainly be tempted to jazz up your CV, but in most cases, it’s better to keep it simple. If your work is dependent on visual content, make sure you stick to just a few examples of your best work.
Again, having a digital portfolio will be where you’ll place the bulk of your visual work, letting your CV act as a foundation.
3. Content is Key
You don’t have to be a professional writer to ensure that your résumé has great content. If you struggle with expressing yourself through the written word, you can start off by making a list of the most important elements of the work you want to add to your résumé. If you have exhibited work for example or contributed to multiple freelance projects, make sure to stay bare bones. There is no need to write an essay about each project, even if it might be tempting. Better to stick with the “who, what, when, where, and if relevant, maybe give a couple of sentences highlighting “why”.
After you’ve finished writing, don’t forget to proofread your CV! It may sound obvious, but a surprising amount of résumés are still submitted with typos. It’s always a good idea to print out your résumé, read it aloud, and make sure you cross your t’s and dot your i’s.
4. Tell a Story
There was a time when résumés were expected to follow strict guidelines, asking potential employees to give information about education, previous work experience, and additional skills. But that was also a time when people had way fewer jobs during their working years. Today, especially if you’re freelancing, you may have more jobs in the last 6 months than some people will have in their entire lifetime.
Instead of overwhelming your potential employer with superfluous details from each and every project you’ve ever worked on, focus on your more interesting work. Imagining your résumé is like telling a story, where your best work represents the milestones of your experience. Again, this is the story of your work life, so make sure it’s one that keeps your audience enthralled.
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