The resume is one of the first ways many potential employers will judge you, so you want to think very carefully about what your resume really says about you. A resume should be a summary of your relevant work and educational history. Here are a few general tips:
- Edit, edit, edit, and then get your friend to edit. Nothing will get your resume tossed aside quickly like silly typos and poor organization. Make sure that there are no mistakes.
- Be clear and concise. Resumes should only be a page or two long. Use clear, meaningful language. If you've had 30 jobs, perhaps you should just choose to list the most recent or most applicable to the position to which you're applying.
- Tailor you resume. If you're applying to different types of jobs, you might want to make a few versions of your resume. Each version should highlight the skills that are most important for that type of job. This might be as simple as moving Photoshop from the back of your skills list to the front.
- Leave out an objective statement. Generally speaking this convention has fallen out of fashion. It takes up space, and it usually doesn't add much meaningful content to your resume.
- You're a visual person, make your resume look nice. If you're graduating with an art degree, you should have honed an eye for composition by now. Use that skill to help you lay out your resume in a way that helps establish clear organization and hierarchy.
Suggested parts of a resume of an undergrad/recent graduate:
You should include current contact information in a prominent location on your resume. Often this information is included in a header or sidebar depending on the design of your resume.
Information to include:
Phone number or numbers: Use numbers that prospective employers could use to contact you. For example, you might want to include your cell phone but not a general work phone that multiple people use.
Email address: It's best to use a personal address such as a gmail account. It's also important that the email address look professional. If your current email address is email@example.com, you might want to consider creating a more professional sounding account before starting your job search.
Mailing address: While a physical mailing address was once considered mandatory, many leave this off resumes for security reasons. However, if you do include an address, make it one where you will continue to receive mail throughout the job search process.
Website URL: If you have a personal website, it's a good idea to include it. Make sure that the website is something you'd like potential employers to actually see though. Removing less than professional content from any personal websites is a very good idea because even if you don't include a URL, employers may find your website.
Include one line for each of the universities or colleges attended. In general, you should list the date attended or graduated, the degree obtained, the major, the institution name, and the location of the institution. If you have yet to graduate, list the degree you will be obtaining and include a phrase that the degree is "expected."
2013 MFA in Ceramics, University of California, Los Angeles, CA (expected 2013)
2009 BA in Ceramics, Otis College of Art and Design, Los Angeles, CA
2007 Università di Bologna, Bologna, Italy
As a young professional or artist just starting a career, you may never have held a professional job. Under an experience section, you should list any work experiences that might be applicable for the position to which you are applying. Internships and apprenticeships can be included. List the dates the experience took place, your title, the institution or organization, the location. Beneath the initial information, list pertinent duties.
2009-2011 Lighting assistant, Bloomberg Photo Studio, New York, NY
Set up lighting rigs for photo shoots
2007-2009 Assistant Registrar, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
Prepared acquisition reports for curatorial staff, maintained records of conservatorial actions on museum items, ensured safe handling of
objects during exhibitions, corresponded with other museums
Remember that if you are applying for several different types of jobs, it's most effective to make a few versions of your resume that highlight different duties you had at different positions. For example when applying for a conservator's assistant position the above listing might be changed as follows:
2007-2009 Assistant Registrar, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, CA
ensured safe handling of objects during exhibitions, maintained records of conservatorial actions on museum items, oversaw packing and unpacking
of loaned items, corresponded with other museums
This is a section that is often overlooked, but many employers want to know the specific skills you possess. Your work experience may not always give an accurate representation of your actual skills, so a skills section can highlight specific things you know how to do.
- Software: Photoshop, InDesign, Dreamweaver, Word, PowerPoint, Access, Excel, FileMaker Pro
- Content Management: The Gallery System, EmbARKContent DM
- Foreign Languages: Italian reading fluency, moderate French comprehension
If you've received awards in school, this is a good indicator of your talent and leadership. List the year received, the name of the award, the granting institution or organization.
Ex: 2012 Best-in-show, Columbia University Student Honors Exhibition
There are many other parts of a resume that you might include depending on your field. Artists will include exhibition lists, art historians will include publications, and teachers might include practicum or student teaching experience. Below are a few resources that are tailored for specific fields:
Resources for specific types of resumes
- College Art Association Artist Resume Recommended Conventions
- Boston College Resumes for Teachers
- America Institute of Graphic Arts: Career Cues
- American Alliance of Museums Resumes and Cover Letters
Remember some types of jobs may ask for a CV (curriculum vitae) rather than a resume. Visit the CVs page [link to CVs] for information on what it is and how to create one.