How to Land that Design Dream Job in 2016


Jason Clark
Jason Clark

on 1/11/2016

This subject matter came up because we’re currently hiring for a new person to fill a design position we have open. Emilee and I have looked at dozens of resumes lately, and are of a similar mind in what we hope to see. I’m going to talk about some things that never in my life would I have thought I would have to say out loud, but a good percentage of last year’s resumes fell into some traps that are easily avoided.


Get those infographics off your resume

OK, biggest pet peeve of 2015 was the “infographic” resume. Just because you want that UX position doesn’t give you the right to give yourself a “95%” score for UX. That’s not for you to decide. That’s for your peers. Also, it’s not good UX. That stands for “User Experience”, remember?

I understand that you’re trying to show how you visually solve a problem, but that’s not what your resume is for, and it most certainly did NOT solve the problem. Check out Greg Storey‘s “100% Clever, 0% Hired” article to be further blasted about resume infographics.

A one page resume is all we need

Especially in the world of the internet, I can find out much more about who you are and what you’ve done from your LinkedIn profile and your website (you have a website, right?). Also, I’m busy. Make it informative and pretty, but don’t make me read more than one page. A good design challenge, indeed.

You might not be a “Senior”

In this world of ridiculous job titles, let’s be honest about where we are in life. Yes, we want to make as much money as possible, but calling yourself a “Senior Designer” with only 3 years of professional experience is a load of Bantha crap. If you expect us to value honesty, we expect the same from you. One of the best developers I know graded himself a 6/10. Think about it.

Photoshop means so much less these days

It’s possible to be an amazing designer and never touch Photoshop. As much as I love that program, I would not hire a plumber to fix my sink if “wrench” were a skill they professed to have. It’s a tool in your toolbox. You’re expected to be proficient with design as a craft. The tools you use are secondary. Also, you have our blessing to take Word and PowerPoint off your list of proficiencies (you’re welcome).

Random shit you should have already known

Email should optimally be @ your own domain name, because if it’s coming from AOL you don’t stand a chance in hell. Attention to detail is what we’re looking for here. dubStepKid4life@yahoo.com stands less of a chance than jane@smith.design.

If the words “Visionary”, “Expert”, or “Thought Leader” come near your resume, forget about it.

Don’t waste space on: your religious or political affiliation, old jobs that are irrelevant, pets, hobbies, etc. If it’s important to you, I guarantee we’ll see it somewhere else.


Take a good headshot
That blurry/artistic selfie of you just tells us you can’t take a good picture. You want a design position, right? That means you should have some taste.

Include a link to your website
You have a website, right? It’s 2016 folks, there’s no reason not to. Even a Squarespace template lets us know that you spent some time considering what work to show.

Spend some time getting your profile right

Yeah yeah, I hate LinkedIn too. If you’re not job hunting it’s where all the salespeople are, trying to get you to buy into whatever snake-oil they’re selling today. And that marketing mumbo-jumbo. Jeeez, you’d think they’d tire of writing that crap by now.

But seriously, this is the first place a potential employer will look for you, so you’d better do a fantastic job representing who you are as a professional.

Oh yeah, you can take the Panera gig off the bottom of your work experience. It’s cool.

All the other “Social Media”

Either lock that shit down or don’t prove to us that you’re a freak, or still obsessed with the girlfriend you broke up with two years ago. We like to know that you’re a real person, and if your accounts are public, it’s really great to see that you’re into the same stuff that we are. Well, almost the same stuff (I’m the only Slayer fan in the office).

Here’s what we like to see:

  • Pets
  • Travel
  • Friends & Family
  • Music, Food, Culture
  • Enthusiasm (about most anything)

Here’s what gives us the heebie-jeebies:

  • Religious or political ranting (although I’m guilty of the latter myself)
  • Pictures of you smoking (gross)
  • Complaining (especially about your current job)

Before you submit your resume

Keep in mind that a large percentage of folks aren’t hired because of good resumes. They are hired because we know them and trust them already. There’s nothing more satisfying than getting to hire that person that you already know would be a perfect fit. Designers traditionally work in small teams, so personality and culture are hugely important. Here are a few tips for things that don’t annoy me as an employer.

Feel free to creep on our social media

Yeah, we keep an eye on that stuff. It’s easy to know if we care about the same things if we interact a little bit online.

Join AIGA and/or AAF Louisville Chapters

Can you just guess how many people find employment by participating in industry organizations? There are sincerely good people sitting on those boards and organizing events related to what we do. I know you’re shy, but this is the easiest way to get to know your peers.

Do the work

Last, and certainly not least, don’t wait for someone to hire you to do what you do. Spend your free time designing that poster, that logo, that mural. I’m sure there’s a band out there that needs a website or flyer designed. At all costs, you must hone your craft, because at the end of it all, you are a craftsman. The work needs to be part of your DNA, or design might not be the career for you. I get many, many resumes with the stated objective of landing at a place that will “let me reach my full potential”, or something similar. You best be on that road already.

Best wishes for a successful 2016!


PS: Anyone who knew me back in the 90’s with my crazy hair may laugh now that I’m writing about professionalism. Go ahead, laugh. I deserve it.

One of my more unemployable moments in life.

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