Graphic Design Skills List and Examples

Resumes, Cover Letters, and Interviews

Graphic designer at work
••• Predrag Vuckovic / E+ / Getty Images

Graphic design, sometimes known as communication design, involves working with and producing images and text. There are a variety of jobs that require graphic design skills. These range from jobs in advertising to animation to printmaking to production design. When applying for jobs in any of these fields, you will want to demonstrate your graphic design expertise in your job applications.

Below is a list of the top five most important graphic design skills, as well as a longer list of other graphic design skills employers seek in job candidates. Develop these skills and emphasize them in job applications, resumes, cover letters, and interviews. The closer a match your credentials are to what the employer is looking for, the better your chances of getting hired.

If you're a student or recent graduate, highlight the skills you acquired during your studies, internships, and jobs held during college in your cover letters, resume and job applications.

Top Five Graphic Design Skills

© The Balance 2018

Graphic designers communicate ideas through text and image. Therefore, communication skills are critical to the job. However, communication is important in graphic design in other ways too. Graphic designers have to articulate ideas to companies, clients, employers, etc. It requires strong public speaking skills for presentations and writing skills for proposals. Designers also have to be able to communicate with clients and employers by phone, email, and sometimes through Skype. Graphic designers must listen to their clients’ needs and convey persuasive solutions.

In all of these ways, communication is critical when trying to land a project.

Graphic designers need to be creative thinkers. They have to creatively convey ideas through text and image. They have to generate solutions for their clients through creative means; for example, they might have to promote a company’s mission through a website or design an image that helps sell a product. All of this involves creativity, as well as creative problem-solving skills.

Graphic designers have to master various forms of technology in today’s world. Firstly, they need to be comfortable with design software, such as Quark, InDesign, and Adobe. This software is used by many companies to produce digital prints.

They also need to know about web design. They should be fluent in multiple programming languages (including HTML and CSS) as well as web design content management system platforms, such as WordPress.      

Time Management
Most graphic designers are constantly juggling multiple projects at once. Because this is so common in the job, they have to have strong time management skills. Graphic designers should be able to multitask, juggle multiple assignments over long periods, and meet all established deadlines.

It is a more traditional skill for designers, but it is nonetheless essential. Graphic designers need to know how to develop legible, well-designed type. They need to be familiar with certain fonts and have a knowledge of line-height and tracking.

Typography is not the only important and more traditional graphic design skill. For example, a knowledge of color theory is critical too. Graphic designers need a strong sense of how colors interact, which colors complement, and which colors contrast.

How to Use Skills Lists

You can use these skills lists throughout your job search process. Firstly, you can use these skill words in your resume. In the description of your work history, you might want to use some of these keywords.

Secondly, you can use these in your cover letter. In the body of your letter, you can mention one or two of these skills, and give specific examples of times when you demonstrated those skills at work.

Finally, you can use these skill words in your interview. Make sure you have at least one example for a time you demonstrated each of the top five skills listed here.

Of course, each job will require different skills and experiences, so make sure you read the job description carefully and focus on the skills listed by the employer. Also, review our lists of skills listed by job and type of skill.

Demonstrating Graphic Design Skills in a Job Application

One way to demonstrate that you have these graphic design skills is to mention them in your resumes and cover letters and job interviews. However, in graphic design, you also want to show the employer – not just tell him or her – that you have these skills.

One way to do this is to prepare an online portfolio that includes some of your best graphic design work.

Be prepared to share this with prospective employers. You can add a link to it on your resume, and share it during job interviews.

Another place to demonstrate your graphic design skills is in your job application. For example, rather than simply say you have typography skills, write your name on your resume using a typeface you invented. You might even use graphics in your resume, or use colors that demonstrate your knowledge of color theory. You could also create an online resume that will demonstrate your knowledge of coding and web design.

A graphic design job application is, therefore, an ideal time to submit a nontraditional resume. However, only do this if you think the employer will appreciate it. If the employer asks for a traditional resume, or you know the company has a conservative culture, you might want to send a more straightforward resume. You can then exhibit your skills in a portfolio.

Graphic Design Skills

A - C

  • Ability to learn digital design platforms
  • Accurate
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • Adobe Creative Suite
  • Adobe Flash
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe InDesign
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Aesthetic sense
  • Analytical
  • Applying digital resources to design projects
  • Arithmetic
  • Assertiveness
  • Attention to detail
  • Balancing artistic integrity with audience appeal
  • Choosing most effective typography for graphic design projects
  • Color sense
  • Color theory
  • Communication
  • Composition
  • Confidence
  • Consultation
  • Creating Logos
  • Creating models for three-dimensional forms
  • Creative thinking
  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • CSS
  • Customer service

D - M

  • Deadline management
  • Decision making
  • Design
  • Design strategy
  • Digital print
  • Dreamweaver
  • Establishing rapport
  • Estimating costs
  • Excel
  • Flash
  • Flexibility
  • HTML
  • Illustration
  • Initiative
  • Integrating visual messages within social media platforms
  • Interpersonal
  • Interpreting artwork for the general public
  • Interviewing clients about their artistic preferences
  • iWork Keynote
  • Layout
  • Listening 
  • Marketing
  • Modifying designs based on feedback from client
  • Multitasking

N - R

  • Negotiation
  • Networking
  • Organizational
  • Patience with customers and staff
  • Perceptive about client needs
  • Photography
  • Photoshop
  • Planning
  • PowerPoint
  • Presentation
  • Print design
  • Printing
  • Prioritizing
  • Problem-solving
  • Production
  • Project management
  • Proofreading
  • Quark
  • QuarkXpress
  • Receiving constructive criticism about artwork
  • Representing figures in space with a balanced perspective
  • Representing ideas visually

S - W

  • Sales
  • Sketching
  • Spacing
  • Storyboard creation
  • Strategic thinking
  • Taking and modifying photographs
  • Targeting visual communications to demographic groups
  • Teamwork
  • Time management
  • Typography
  • Usability
  • Verbal communications
  • Vision
  • Visual communications
  • Visual problem solving
  • Working collaboratively
  • Working independently
  • Writing
  • Written communications