Once you have received your diploma or degree and a couple of years of experience in the field, you may think that landing your dream job in the interior design industry would be automatic, right? Wrong. Getting a new job, more so in the creative industry takes a lot of work and top-notch marketing for yourself.
Having grown to be worth an incredible $14.6 billion in 2020, you’d expect there to be a lot of competition. So how will you stand out in the already seemingly flooded market?
The first and most important aspect of your personal marketing begins with your resume. How good is it? Would it convince the hiring managers to consider you for the position? Your resume is able to showcase your most impressive skills, experiences, and greatest accomplishments. But wait, isn’t this what everyone else is doing?
As a creative, you may consider the idea of writing a resume uninteresting. But you also know that to be successful and to land better gigs, you need to have both practical skills and aesthetic vision. There are probably lots of things that you want the hiring managers to know, but as statistics have it, employers typically take only 7.4 seconds to scan through your document and know whether you’re the right fit for the role.
The key here is to create a unique and compelling resume that will stand out from the rest, pushing your application to the top. To achieve this, you need to consider certain best practices when writing your resume.
This post will take you through all the nitty-gritty regarding resume writing for an interior designer, with all the necessary tips to help you create the best document that will increase your chances of getting hired.
Top tips to consider when writing an interior design resume
1. Know your target audience
Before you submit your resume, ensure to conduct research on the company that you’re applying to. You can go through the job description to understand the needs of the employer and you can take into account this data to customize your resume. Never send out a generalized or generic-sounding document.
2. Identify your unique value
The main thing to consider whenever you’re creating your resume is to ensure that your document stands out from the rest. You need to identify what your unique blend is, commonly known as a value proposition. Where do your strengths lie? What could make you most valuable to the company? Make sure to bring this out in the career summary section which we will cover shortly.
3. Develop a strategy
Once you have identified the specific needs of the company you wish to apply to, you need to restructure your resume to include all the necessary components. For instance, you need to develop the right keywords and power words to include in your resume, more so in the work experience part. Another major thing to take into consideration is the format of the resume you’ll use. This will be discussed in detail shortly.
4. The most impactful sections of an interior design resume
“Anyone can decorate a house, but not everyone can bring all aspects of interior design together.” This is a popular statement that you might have interacted with when you first decided that you want to become an interior designer. There’s so much that goes on in the interior design field, but employers will want to see if you’re fit for the role by looking for considerations such as:
- Do you have an innate flair for picking the right spatial arrangement, textiles, color, and accessories?
- Are you able to show pure enthusiasm about fabrics, accessories & items, and how they inspire you?
- Can you show proficiency in computer-aided drawing (CAD) programs?
- Do you have the skills to make structural and functional interior changes from scratch?
- Are you familiar with the structural integrity of buildings, building codes, accessibility standards, and inspection regulations?
- How good you are at picking out the right subcontractors and suppliers for a job?
A good interior design resume is a blend of two key things: whether you have the enthusiasm & the right eye for aesthetically pleasing designs and also whether you are proficient in the technologies and tools used in the line of work.
In the creative industry, the ideal candidate isn’t necessarily one with many degrees and certificates, but one who has a knack for creativity. Are you able to think out of the box to come up with compelling designs? This is why for most employers, the education section is usually one of the last things to look at. You may have only taken an online course in interior design, but you might have better chances of securing the job than someone with a degree or even higher education.
So what are the most impactful sections for an interior designer’s resume?
- Header (with a portfolio link)
- Career summary or objective
- Work experience with top career highlights
- Technical & soft skills
- Education & Certifications
Before we break down each section and how you should correctly put it, it would be prudent to first understand the various formats of interior design resume writing.
There are currently four major types of interior design resume layouts. They include;
- Single column template
The single-column template is ideal for those that wish to get hired in entry-level capacities. It is one of the most dependable templates as it greatly shows your skills and competencies without sounding too scarce.
- Double column template
The double-column template is best used by candidates with a couple of years behind their backs. You can use this template in reverse-chronological order and then topped up with your portfolio, which gives a good overview of your background.
- Condensed template
The condensed template is ideal for a candidate with more experience up their sleeve and one that wishes to showcase more relevant projects.
- Creative template
An interior designer is creative and just like a graphic designer’s resume, you can choose to be a bit creative in your work. However, you need to be careful not to overdo the creativity bit.
Having looked at the most popular interior design resume templates, let’s now take a deeper look at how to correctly write and the right content to include in each of the key sections:
5. The clarity in the header
Whenever you’re applying for a position, ensure to consider whether the role needs someone specialized in a particular area of interior design. When writing your name, you should include below it your specialization, and do not be vague in your title.
For instance, if the vacancy is for a boutique interior design agency, you shouldn’t just write “interior designer” but you could go further and write “NCIDQ Corporate Interior Designer”. The key takeaway for this is to avoid generalization and point out your stronghold right from the start. Keep your header clean and simple, don’t add too much information, maybe only your name, contact, and email address (or any other requested data).
6. Writing a compelling career summary
The career summary section is one of the most overlooked, yet crucial sections of an interior designer’s resume. When creating one, it must give off the vibe of someone that understands their roles and capabilities while having a strong belief in their choices and taste.
You can use the career summary section to highlight things such as:
- The passion you have for your area of focus;
- A career achievement you’re most proud of;
- Design tools and technologies you’re proficient with;
- Any special recognition for your design work (awards, magazine features, etc.);
- Mention your years of experience to solidify your expertise.
But some people may begin worrying at the mention of recognition, career achievements, and the number of years of experience. Luckily, you also have a good shot at getting the job even if you don’t have much experience. One of the ways you can follow is by curating a compelling career objective. You can feature your school projects and any pro bono work done before for free or at greatly reduced prices.
7. How to frame the interior design work experience
Apart from the career summary, the next section that creates a huge impact on your resume is the work experience part. You should note that there are many kinds of jobs that interior designers might have gone through in their careers, so it would be important only to include the crucial ones.
Your experience section plays a key role in supporting your portfolio, which speaks for your creative side. Nevertheless, when looking for the right format to note down your work experience, it would be crucial to emphasize three main points:
- Your background
- Your project management experience
- Your technical expertise
As mentioned earlier, let the portfolio do the talking regarding your creative side. When writing the experience you’ve had, you should not forget to include the following:
- What exactly did you do?
- Why did you do it?
- What was the final result? (preferably quantified with a number)
But what if you’re just getting into the field and you lack all that experience?
Here’s how to write an entry-level interior designer resume work experience:
- You can start off by listing projects that you have done before, whether at school, volunteer work, pro bono designs that you did, etc.
- You can also add an administration job that you took part in as an interior designer. This can be an assistant position you took at a design firm or a mentorship program under an experienced designer.
- Do not fret if you don’t have much experience. After all, everyone starts from somewhere. Instead, you should bet more on the skill section and work on improving or rather expanding your technical and soft skills.
8. Power words to include in your resume’s experience section
When going through your resume, employers are most likely looking for certain words that would help them know if you are the right candidate for the job in an instant. Some of the key verbs to utilize when writing about your work experiences are:
9. The best way to add an educational background to an interior designer’s resume
Many experts have varied opinions as to how one should add their educational background to their resume. However, the answer is really simple. If you have a lot of experience, having learned in various institutions several courses, then you can simply mention the school and the course. For those that don’t have so much educational background, you can expand the basic education that you received by indicating any accomplishments, recognitions, awards, etc.
As we mentioned in our other article on the complete guide to an interior designer’s job description, many famous interior designers are technically, interior decorators. This means that they are not certified in their field. In some countries, you cannot hold the title of an interior designer until you have been licensed and registered by particular authorities.
In most cases, getting licensed as an interior designer requires that you undergo and pass some exams (or tests). For instance, one of the most popular tests that you need to pass to be known as an interior designer is NCIDQ – National Council for Interior Design Qualification.
10. Listing your hard and soft skills
The skills that you indicate in your resume have to be supported by what you wrote in the career summary and what is required in the job description. Always try to find a close match between what the employers need and your value proposition. So what’s the best way to showcase your skills?
One of the most recommended ways is by categorizing them into specific programs. For example, take a look at the image below:
It is important to list all the skills that you are proficient with, as it will help in the filtering process, more so if the employers are relying on an ATS (applicant tracking system).
Here’s an example to get you started, but do not forget to customize this particular section to fit your specific qualifications and skills that mirror what the employer wishes to see:
Interpersonal or Personal skills
- Viewed as collaborative
- Good listener
- Strong communication, both written and verbal
- Strong visualization skills
- 3-D Modeling
- Punch Interior Home Design
- Chief Architect Design Software
- Building codes
- Structural requirements
- Health and safety regulations
- Strong negotiator
- Proposal creation
- New client acquisition
- Time management
- Project management
- Business plan creation
Top hard skills to have as an interior designer
Here’s a list of the top technical skills you should have as an interior designer:
- Adobe Suite
- Autodesk Revit
- 3D Max
- Live Home 3D
- Chief Architect
- 3D Homeplanner
- Color theory
- Technical drawing
- Project management
- Property Safety Codes
- Structural Design
- Zoning Regulations
Listing your soft skills on an interior design resume
It is a no-brainer that adding soft skills to a resume is now like walking on thin ice. Gone are the days when you just throw cookie-cutter words such as effective communication and attention to detail.
The soft skills that you list, must have in one way or another impacted how you have operated before, and whether they assisted you in a way. Do not just write the skills and leave it at that. Take a look at the example below for further clarity:
Top soft skills to have as an interior designer
Here are the top soft skills that you need to succeed as an interior designer:
- Attention to detail
- Verbal & written communication
- Time management
- Problem Sensitivity
Interior design resume mistakes to avoid
Just as we compiled a list of the mistakes to avoid as an interior designer, this list wouldn’t be comprehensive if we didn’t also guide you on what not to do. Here are a few interior design resume fails (mistakes) that you have to avoid at all costs:
- Your document should not be too long or with densely packed text. After all, the sole purpose of a resume is to help get an interview, where you can talk about everything else that’s not in the resume. A short document shows focus, prioritization skills, and organization.
- Don’t lie to yourself that simply because you won’t be doing any technical writing, you shouldn’t pay attention to your grammar. Keep out all the social media abbreviations and slang, and ensure to proofread your resume for grammar and any other errors before submission.
- Be careful about how you put your wording in particular sections such as when talking about your soft skills and how they helped you in your career. For instance, when talking about conflict resolution as a skill, avoid any negativity no matter how tempting it is to jot it down. Don’t paint any other people in a bad light.
- Always structure your resume to the specific job you’re applying for taking into consideration the job description and seeing what the employers require.
- Only use formal, legible fonts without incorporating too many design aspects in them.
It’s all about making the right first impression
A strong resume makes all difference when searching for a job. We believe that this post will help you curate a compelling interior design resume that will land you your next dream job. In summary, here are the things your resume will be judged upon:
- Your technical knowledge of interior design and the software used
- Demonstrated knowledge of spatial concepts, accessibility, and building regulations.
- Proficiency in CAD software
- Your value proposition
- The use of the right keywords, more so when applying online
Don’t have an idea of where to find your next gig, do not fret. Join thousands of freelance interior designers and enjoy the freedom of the industry, as you continue to build upon your resume.
Frequently Asked Questions on interior design resumes
Q: Should I include references in my interior design resume?
A: Including references on your resume is recommended, but if you feel like including them will take up more of your space, then you’re better off going without this section. However, ensure that you have a list of your references and can avail of it upon request.
Q: How do I list education on an interior design resume?
A: In many interior design resume templates, the education section goes to the last part. However, it is still an important part and you must indicate the institution attended and the course learned. If you’ve attended more than one school, you can list the most important ones in reverse-chronological order.
Q: How long should an interior design resume be?
A: The key to writing a compelling interior design resume is to always keep it short. The most you can go for is two pages.