Resumés and Cover Letters

It’s nearly the time of the semester when there are knocks on my door from soon to be graduating students who want feedback on portfolios, cover letters, and resumés. Too many good students spend such little amount of time on their resumés that this has somehow become a bit of a pet peeve of mine. So, of course, I’ve devised a list. Comment to add your own bullet items because this is in no way comprehensive.

If you’re about to assemble your portfolio, cover letter, and resumé, you should expect to do the following:

1. Plan to spend time on your writing and editing, and on the design of your materials. You should spend as much time on your resumé and cover letter as you do putting together the page layout (for the screen or paper) of your portfolio.

2. Write your letter in a software editing application, like Word or Open Office. Don’t do your writing in a design application. I would even argue for writing resumé content in the editing software, too. You can design the content secondly, after you create the content.

3. Follow conventions. I know, you’ve just spent a good portion of your design education learning the rules and maybe breaking the rules of design. Your cover letter and resumé are not places to show off your super-rad, experimental design skills. Treat the wordy materials as an exercise in creating hierarchy with typography.

4. Less is more. This applies to your writing and your design strategy. Edit it, delete material, and edit it again.

5. Spell check is an absolute necessity. Always run spell check before you print your document.

6. This is covered in the Get A Design Job PDF you should check out, published on the AIGA website: customize your letter. One cover letter will not serve all purposes. You’ll be able to do a lot of copy/pasting, but you should directly address the specific employees.

On that note, go check out the Get A Design Job materials and then…get to work!

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