Find out the dos and don'ts of writing an impressive graphic design CV

If you're a skilled Graphic Designer looking for your next job in the industry, having a well-crafted CV is the first step to ensuring job search success. Read on to find out how to write a graphic design CV, what to include, what not to include, plus a CV template and example for Graphic Designers in any field to use as inspiration for their next job application.

What is a graphic design CV?

A graphic design CV is a document that offers an overview of your work experience, skills, and qualifications. It's used when applying for a graphic design job, to help you to secure an interview. Since graphic design is a creative industry, graphic designers usually highlight their personal qualities and experiences both inside and outside of their career through a portfolio.

Why is a graphic design CV important?

There are a wide variety of graphic design fields out there, including web design, UI and interactive design, advertising and marketing, motion graphics and animation, packaging design, game design, and publication and typography design, all of which require a very specific skill set. As a result, a well-written designer CV is essential for any creative looking to set themselves apart in this diverse industry.

Once a Graphic Designer has the basic format of their CV nailed down, it can be tailored easily to each vacancy to showcase the required abilities, accomplishments, and expertise. A graphic design CV can therefore be updated and reused time and time again, and so it's worth investing in the first draft and getting it right.

Information to include in a graphic design CV

The format of the CV can be adjusted to suit your unique experiences and career path so far. However, there are certain sections that prospective employers expect to see in a designer CV, and these include:

  • Contact information

  • Personal profile

  • Core competencies or key skills

  • Employment history

  • Education and qualifications

How to write a graphic designer CV

To help increase your chances of success in landing your next graphic design job, follow these steps to create your CV:

1. Contact information

Rather than begin your CV with “CV” or “Curriculum Vitae”, start with your contact information. This includes your full name, current job title, location, phone number, email address, and a link to your website or professional online portfolio showcasing your graphic design work.

2. Personal profile

The next section is your personal profile, which is also referred to as a personal statement or a professional summary. A personal profile is effectively your elevator pitch and a chance to introduce yourself as a Graphic Designer. It's a short paragraph summarising who you are and the value you bring to the table.

You should always tailor your personal profile to the job you're applying for, as it's often the first section a prospective employer will read. The value you will bring to the table is likely to vary from vacancy to vacancy, due to each employer's unique requirements. Combing through the job description and role requirements will guide you towards the right points to reference.

3. Core competencies and key skills

A core competencies and key skills section is your secret weapon. This section is designed to highlight your most relevant skills in graphic design. It's the perfect way to list graphic design skills on your CV, especially since this section sits front and centre of the document.

Review the job description, then bullet point a handful of your most impressive abilities that align with the employer's requirements. It's even better if you can mirror the language used in the job description, as this will show you're a clear match.

Examples of graphic design skills you could include are:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud

  • Colour theory

  • Interactive media

  • Portfolio management

  • Responsive design

  • UI research

  • Typography and typesetting

  • Client communication

4. Employment history

The next section to include is your employment history. List your graphic design work experience in reverse-chronological order, starting with your most recent position. For each role, list the company name, your job title, employment dates, a short overview of your position to add context, and a bullet-point list of key achievements, rather than a comprehensive list of your duties and responsibilities. 

To ensure your content resonates with the prospective employer, review the job description again and evaluate where your achievements align with the key requirements. By showing the employer your relevant experience, you'll showcase the value that you can bring to the table to address the business' needs.

5. Education and qualifications

An education and qualifications section can also be leveraged to show an employer that you have the right level of knowledge to get the job done. This is particularly so for Graphic Designers, as most roles require a degree-level qualification or other dedicated courses in creative software or design theory.

Like your employment history, list your education in reverse-chronological order. Include the qualification title, the institution you attended or the course provider, and the year the certificate was awarded. 

6. Additional CV sections

We've covered the essential sections of a CV, but there are a few additional sections you may not have thought about and they may give your graphic design CV an extra edge. They include:

  • Technical skills: Show off which graphic design software you're confident using

  • Languages: If you can speak or write in any language other than English, include it along with an indication of how fluent you are

  • Awards: Internal, external and team awards will add value to your CV, as they are recognition of how well you perform. State what the award was for, the year you received it, and who awarded it

  • Accreditations: If you're a member of a creative society or Chartered Institute, include that too. It will showcase your commitment to your career and validate your experience

Formatting guidelines for a graphic design CV

Here are some best practice tips and tricks for formatting your graphic design CV:

  • Length: The standard length of a graphic design CV is two pages, but if you're a C-suite executive you may extend it to three. If you're applying for your first job, one page is probably enough. 

  • Font type and size: Simple, contemporary font types are best to aid legibility. You can choose the font to showcase your personality, such as a bubbly font like Lora rather than a structured font like Arial. Keep body text between 10 and 12 point font, and headings slightly larger

  • File type: The best CV file type is a Word document, as it will maintain formatting and an applicant tracking system (ATS) will be able to read it accurately

What not to include on a graphic design CV

There are a few things not to include on your graphic design CV:

  • Avoid creative elements: A creative CV design may create problems with an ATS. Heavy designs can be distracting for employers, as bells and whistles can distract from the key points on your CV. If you want to show visuals of your talent, link to your portfolio

  • Don't list references or referees: Asking for references is standard employment practice and is completed once you're hired. Therefore, you don't need to add the line “references available upon request” or list your referees. It's a waste of CV real estate

  • No photos or headshots: Adding a headshot may seem professional and polished, but it's not standard practice on UK CVs because of anti-discrimination laws

  • Don't reference protected characteristics: Sensitive information such as age, race, religion,marital status, sexual orientation, sex or gender reassignment, or disabilities are protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. They do not need to be referenced on your CV and it's illegal for potential employers to ask about them

Graphic design CV template

If you're looking for a graphic design job, here's a template to reference when writing your CV:

Graphic design CV template from TopCV

Graphic design CV example

To help steer you in the right direction, here is an example of a graphic design CV:

Graphic design CV example by TopCV

Graphic design is a competitive industry, but using these CV tips and tricks should help you on your way to crafting a winning CV. If you want to make sure your CV showcases your relevant skills and achievements, as well as your creative talent, submit your CV for a free review  for objective feedback.

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