Insights on writing your résumé

I can tell a lot from your résumé. It is probably the first I hear of you and therefore an introduction to you as a person and as a professional designer. It's your one-page portfolio. It's the virtual you.

The way your cover letter is written tells me whether you did your homework before sending off the résumé. Misspelling my name or that of the firm is definitely not a qualifying asset. (I know they're both difficult names and should be the final round question in a designer's spelling bee contest.) But come on! You can look it up. We are in the Yellow Pages.

Carefully state your interest and why you want to work for us and why you think you're just what we're looking for. Generic flattery isn't getting you anywhere, but a reference to something which caught your interest might help and tells me that you know something about us.

The résumé itself is definitely information which should demand my undivided attention. It needs to be designed. Your choice of typefaces and typography, the layout and the organization of information, the paper stock, etc., all contribute to the way I perceive you as a potential designer working for us. It also shows me what you can do on a single piece of paper. But high wire acts are dangerous, so keep it simple and readable. (Even David Carson's business card is ultimately readable.) No elaborate personal logos, please, especially if you're just out of school. It's a bit pretentious.

Your résumé needs to motivate me to want to ask for your portfolio. Your education and work experiences are very important, but ultimately it's the live you, your work and presentation, which make me want to hire you.

About the Author:

Steff Geissbuhler


geissbühler:design Inc.

Steff Geissbuhler is among America’s most celebrated designers of integrated brand and corporate identity programs. His work for a broad spectrum of international and national clients includes identity systems for NBC, Merck, Time Warner Cable, Telemundo, Voice of America, Toledo Museum of Art, National Parks of New York Harbor, Crane & Co., Calamos Investments, Conrad Hotels and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney. Prior to forming his own firm, he was a co-founding partner at C&G Partners for over six years, and a partner at Chermayeff & Geismar Inc. for 30 years.

Steff has designed architectural graphics for the IBM building in New York City; a complete sign system for the Universities of Pennsylvania; and Connecticut; printed materials for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, Mobil, Philip Morris, Cummins Engines and Union Pacific. Other commissions include graphics for the Smithsonian Institution’s Bicentennial exhibition; the “Sports Illustrated at the Olympics” exhibit; a new identity and graphics for the New York Public Library; the New Victory Theater; and a series of posters for New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. In 2005 Mr. Geissbuhler’s work was honored with the American Institute of Graphic Arts Medal for his sustained contribution to design excellence and the development of the profession. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Federal Achievement Design Award, and several awards from the Art Director’s Clubs and the International Poster Biennales. Steff served as the U.S. president of the Alliance Graphique Internationale and has been a member of the board of the American Institute of Graphic Arts. He is past president of AIGA’s New York chapter and is presently a board member.

Steff Geissbuhler received his diploma in graphic design from the School of Art and Design, Basel, Switzerland. He has taught at the Philadelphia C