A room may speak for itself, but a résumé is still a reliable tell-all for employers seeking worthy candidates for design firm and showroom positions. Lloyd Princeton, founder and consultant of Design Management Company who has worked with interior designers Alan Tanksley, Donna Livingston and S. Russell Groves, offers coaching to designers and design pros on how to market skills and sell experience in the space of just one sheet of paper. Princeton shares his tips for those hunting for jobs—and those hunting for top talent—with EAL.
How should a design résumé read?
The résumé format utilized by employers tends to be the same in most industries: contact information, work experience with most current position first, accreditations/memberships and education. More often than not, I think that people are overly elaborate on their résumés, listing every single thing they’ve done at each employer. An employer is looking at the company, job position, length of time there and then a few of the highlights. You either have what they are seeking or not.
What are the most common problems with designers’ résumés?
I was recently working with a candidate and I had him add his education, which he left off because he had not completed his degree. I also suggested that having multiple [experiences] overlap, particularly when working full-time, is not a plus to a hiring manager. My experience is that things that a candidate finds troublesome—like not having a degree—may not make a difference to an employer, but not having [in this case, education] listed on a résumé just draws attention to the deficit and begs further questioning.
Simplify, be accurate, and put in all of the relevant information, even if it means revealing something less desirable.
Another major issue is that of misinformation. It is not okay to lie on a résumé. Employers do check. Ratified offers are rescinded and people can be fired after the fact. This happened recently, when a candidate overstated her income at her current employer by about $50,000 in order to warrant a higher base pay for a sales position. The offer letter required proof of income and she was caught. The offer was rescinded.
Share some hiring process tips for designers and design firms looking for top candidates.
I learned this from one of my favorite clients: No matter how talented someone appears to be, validate the experience by having them complete a test. The test used by my client is to provide schematics for a 3,000-square-foot condominium and then to have the designer prepare a pitch and present it to the firm as if they are clients. Successful candidates have gone all-out with color boards, all of the samples, tear sheets, etc., in order to win the client, which in this case is a job!
What can up-and-coming designers do to combat a lack of experience?
The best thing to do is make it risk-free for an employer by first proving that you can do what you say you can do. Secondly, offer to work for a trial period for free. It doesn’t have to be long—maybe a week or two—just to show your determination and to prove that you have the necessary skills.