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Creating Your Artist Resumé After Graduation

Graduation marks a moment of immense growth and transition. Students leave behind a community they have been apart of for for several years. Now, what’s next? First things first: in order to place yourself in the best possible path for success, you need to hone how you will be represented to a potential employer. That’s why it’s essential to create an effective, eye-catching artist resumé as you transition out of school. Whether you’re applying for a job in the arts, an opportunity in another sector of you plan to freelance, remember that the first impression you make with a potential employer usually comes from your artist resumé.

While your achievements may speak for themselves, if not presented in the right format, it can escape the eyes of a discerning Human Resources team or hiring manager. Maybe you’ve laid everything out correctly, but something is missing or preventing your achievements from standing out from the pack. Below are four tips to consider when creating your artist resumé. By formulating a document that is coherent and concise, it’s easy to submit for opportunities with the confidence that you have the highest possibility of securing HR’s attention – and netting that all-important interview!

1. Give it Some Space

You’d be surprised: improper formatting can turn a hiring manager away before they even make it past your contact information. Make sure your education, achievements and past jobs are all laid out with plenty of negative space between words and in a large enough font for the average adult to read. Size 8 font without any double spacing is going to give a hiring manager a headache reading through your resumé, if it gets that far. Stick with 12 point font and at least 1.5 line spacing.

Follow the six second rule that hiring managers adhere to: they won’t take longer than six seconds to decide whether or not they want to engage with the average resumé. HR pros over at The Muse say it best: “Remember how hiring managers usually spend just six seconds looking at your resumé? Help them maximize that time by making your resumé super clear and easy-to-read.” This means even spacing, negative space for the eye to adjust and make the distinction between education and past experience sections and other areas of your artist resumé such as extracurriculars or industry-specific awards and honors.

2. Keep it Short and Sweet

It can’t be said enough: keep your artist resumé to one page. Perhaps as you formulate your resumé after graduation you realize that you are a non-traditional student with years of experience, or have held several jobs at the same time. Do yourself a favor: Edit. Make sure that your past experience is in chronological order, starting with the most recently held positions. If your experience pushes past a page-long resumé then select the positions most relevant to the job you are applying for and/or the most visible companies you have worked for and with and highlight those. Have you freelanced for a while now? That’s great! Note this on your resume, putting yourself as “Principal” at “Your Name studio” and/or label yourself a creative consultant or freelance artist: then, list your clients underneath by bullet point under a short description of the types of projects you have experience with. Bullet points are helpful because they cleanly separate out projects, and are easy for the eye to follow.

If you work in graphic design or layout of any kind feel free to allow your artist resumé to reflect your skill set but try not to get super creative as the hiring manager is not the creative team! Therefore, anything too over the top may work against you rather than for you in the early stages of the application process.

3. Know Your Audience

artist resume
Tailor Your Resume to a General Audience. Get More Specific in Your Cover Letter.

Think about the different sections you will be creating on your resumé. From Contact information to Education, Past Experience and Awards/Honors, it’s important to lay out your achievements and experience in an easy-to-intuit manner. Whether you’re applying to a job in the fine arts and creative industry or in another field you have experience in, make sure you are tailoring your resumé toward a general audience as the person who is the gatekeeper to the position of your dreams may have limited knowledge of the industry jargon or design standards. You can note more specifics about your achievements and specialized knowledge in the cover letter. The resumé is your first step in the right direction with a company: make the headers for each specific area stand out, easy to follow and straightforward.

4. Toot Your Horn

Make your achievements stand out. If you’ve won academic achievements, feature them prominently. Same for industry-wide awards, honors, and recognition. Rhodes Scholar? Don’t bury it somewhere to the side: place it prominently in the Awards or Recognition section. Save modesty for somewhere else – not your resumé. Your resumé is your calling card.  Communicating your strengths and experience to a hiring manager is the first step to getting your foot in the door for the job you’re seeking.

From preparing for your next job to making sure you’ve set yourself up for artistic success in the real world, the responsibility lies with you to determine your future. Make sure you rise to the challenge by following these tips for a stellar artist resumé.

Are you a resumé writing professional? Work as a hiring manager or creative studio? Share what you think stands out on a post-graduation resume by leaving your thoughts in the comments below!

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