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5 Resume Tips for Web Designers & Developers

Lately, I’ve been reviewing resume after resume for a Jr. Web Designer/Developer position at work. Going through this process, I’m realizing just how good I did on my own and how such simple things can keep an individual from landing an interview. So, here are my 5 tips for web designers & developers to getting past the resume review stage.

  1. Setup a portfolio – Just having a portfolio puts you leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else applying for the same position. It’s the first thing I look for. Even if it’s only a website you made for a class or school group, use it as a foundation for your portfolio. A professional looking portfolio can say more than you ever can in your resume.
  2. Show off your portfolio – Having one isn’t enough, it also needs to be readily apparent that you’ve got one. Remember, we’re going through hundreds of resumes (mostly text-based with limited formatting). So, don’t hide the link(s) to your portfolio. I don’t know how many I’ve tossed aside thinking it didn’t have a portfolio, only discover later that “whoops”, it actually did…it was just buried 5 paragraphs deep. Which brings me to #3…
  3. Keep to the point – Given the amount of resumes that come in, keep your resume short and around one page in length. Excruciating details about every single job you’ve ever held are not important. Focus on the ones that relate to the job you’re applying for and single out the most important responsibilities of the job(s) you previously held. If you once worked at the Sizzler, that’s great…if you’re applying at TGIF, but for a Web Design job it’s just wasting space that you could be using to really sell your knowledge of the job.
  4. Specialize – If you’re applying for a Web Designer job, emphasize your knowledge of Photoshop, XHTML, CSS, etc. Don’t pour out a list of obscure languages that you barely know. Nobody cares! It only shows that you’re, at best, a jack of all trades and at worst, a master of none. Focus on the technologies and skill-sets that are important for the job and ditch the rest. It’s better to admit you’re familiar with a skill unlisted on you’re resume than to admit you don’t really know it that well.
  5. Stop Spearheading! – Don’t throw in words like “spearheading” for your own “self-puffery”. It comes across as amateurish. Stay with simple, strong words. If you’d be embarrassed to say it out-loud, don’t put it in your resume. (If you’d still say “spearheading” aloud, then you’re probably a jackass. Glad I could point it out for you.) e.g. “I led a team of engineers in defining project requirements” is better than “I spearheaded initiatives that led to the development of project requirements.” The first one comes across as an individual who can both lead and work with his co-workers. The second version comes across as somewhat self-aggrandizing and a bit narcissistic.
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