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Tips from a design hiring manager
Hiring managers often decide on your resume/portfolio in under 10 seconds. Amid 104 other candidates, how do you quickly stand out?
As a hiring manager, these are the questions I am trying to answer quickly:
What experience do they have? I want to know what your previous company did, don’t assume familiarity. Show me the essence, like “B2B SaaS platform revolutionizing customer data utilization”. Replace buzzword-heavy phrases in your descriptions like 'Ran user research, synthesized learnings...' with clear, impactful descriptions. Hiring managers are looking for a balance of familiarity with the excitement of variety. Streamline your resume: as a hiring manager, I look for impact, taste, and drive - not tool lists, skill sliders, or GPAs. Keep it laser-focused on what truly matters.
How much experience do they have? Clearly outline your experience timeline. Vague resumes leave hiring managers guessing. Detail your role duration on your resume (similar to LinkedIn) for clear insight into your potential impact.
Do they have visual taste? A resume's visual appeal is crucial. Avoid basic, uninspired formats like Times New Roman in an exported Word doc. It’s really hard to take a design candidate seriously who doesn’t take design seriously. Remember, nobody is printing this resume out. Demonstrate your design acumen through your resume's style, and extend this to your LinkedIn visuals. Be concise and let your portfolio detail your career journey.
Do they have a portfolio I can view quickly? A personal website indicates passion and initiative in designers. It doesn’t need to be complex; even simple tools can create impressive sites. I’ve seen great sites built using Squarespace, Framer, Webflow, Notion, and even a Figma prototype of a website. Remember to make your portfolio easily accessible, and share a clear password if required. The design quality of your website and the work you present will tell me your maturity and fit for the team.
Did they have an impact in their previous role? Whether through quantitative results or stories of 0-1 product launches, let the hiring manager see that you're not just a designer but a valuable asset to any business. I want to know that a candidate can deliver designs that users love, the business values, and level up the surrounding team.
(Bonus) Do they love design so much that they think about it beyond their day job? Highlight how your love for design extends into side projects, volunteer efforts, blogging, or YouTube tutorials. This shows ongoing learning and enthusiasm for design beyond your 9-5 role.
Your goal is to make the hiring manager's decision an easy one. The big reframe here is to view yourself as the product and your user as the hiring manager. How might you design a resume and portfolio that leave a lasting impression and set you apart in a competitive job market?
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