I’ve been a freelance graphic and web designer since 2001. Periodically I receive resumes from designers who are way green and right out of the box. When I started freelancing I spent a fair amount of time going on interviews for Graphic Design positions and I’ve got a few pointers for you, ok?
Your cover letter (or intro email) needs to be positive. Believe it or not, I’ve gotten some that have been pretty dismal. As a designer you put yourself and your ability out there for critique over and over again. You steal yourself against negativity and you need to develop a thick skin because some people won’t like what you’ve got to show them, BUT do not assume the worst when you introduce yourself. If you stick out your hand to shake that of a potential employer, don’t be self depricating and expect to get shot down – the same goes for a resume intro letter. By the way, it’s a bad idea to mention how badly the economy sucks and how hard it is to find a design job right now… just sayin’. Cover letter = think confident and positive.
If you have a degree or certificate in your field, mention it in your letter. Don’t just say you “took” Graphic Design. If you only took a class or two and hope to break into the field, leave your educational background out of your introduction.
Don’t talk about what you have NOT been able to do, talk about what you have done and are doing or trying to do! And if you don’t have much professionaly printed work or live website experience, keep the extent of your experience vague in your intro. Think of it as your 30 second commerical spot. Accentuate your assets!
If you have any examples of your work, include them attached to your resume (3 or 5 examples) or create a flicker account and post them online.
You can include the url in your resume or cover letter to see examples of your work.
Put thought and care into the design of your resume and do not just use a template. Think of it as the first page of your portfolio. You are looking for design work, after all. Don’t be afraid to redesign it periodically to keep it fresh and keep your old ones so you can watch yourself improve! Also, consider using an uncommon font – easily readable and not too decorative, but something that has a little more “ahhhhh” power than Arial. Don’t forget to create outlines of your text before you save it as a pdf, in case whoever sees it doesn’t have the fonts on their machine.
Lastly, I applaud you for putting yourself out there. Landing your first (or first few) positions isn’t easy, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, right? When you get your interview, they will want to see a physical portfolio, so have one ready – even if it’s a bunch of comps and mock-ups and not much professionally printed stuff.
Best of luck, be wildly successful and I wish you all the best!