Can I write “Creative Director” on a student résumé / CV?

almost 5 years ago from , Ideas, youth, tech, design, & education

I’m a student with about 8 years of experience in event design. I recently was responsible for managing a 5-person design team (for a 24-hour hackathon) that produced a total of about 16 different deliverables (e.g. social media ads, posters, T-shirts, signage) over 3 months. I set the high-level vision, made sure our brand adhered to it, ran iterative design reviews twice a week, and acted as a mentor to the younger students on our team. I made sure everything was completed (close to) on-time, that design deliverables were according to branding guidelines, and liaised between our team and others.

Thus, is it appropriate to call myself the “Creative Director” of the team on my CV? That’s what it seems like I was doing (according to Wikipedia) but does that come across as snooty/big-headed, especially for a student? It seems like one may need more experience before you can call yourself that… or perhaps it’s impostor syndrome?


  • Derek Bodily, almost 5 years ago

    Don't do it.

    The agency I interned at after graduating told me they didn't usually take students from my school because they often listed themselves as CDs on student work. At several agencies I've worked at, I've heard recruiters make fun of students for calling themselves CDs. I've even seen applications thrown in the trash after a room of recruiters/CDs ripped on applications like this.

    When you're a student, titles are pretty arbitrary, so that's not what they're looking at. Maybe it won't hurt you, but maybe they'll think you've got an ego when you're already referring to yourself as a CD without any real-world experience, so why risk it? You're not going to get hired to be a CD right out of school, so it's not necessary to have "experience" as one. I would play it casual and refer to yourself as an Art Director or Designer – those are simple titles for jobs you could actually get after graduating.

    In the end, the title doesn't matter, your work does. I would give yourself a reasonable title on these projects, include the details of your role in a small write up (just like in this post) in the first paragraph, and then show your work in a case study.

    18 points
  • evan kosowski, almost 5 years ago

    Im in the group that believe creative director means a certain thing and that certain thing is usually at least 5-10 years experience getting to creative director. Creative directors also deal with multiple creative teams like copy, design and usually many more. A creative director lays out the high level vision and groups the teams accordingly to move them forward. Sounds like you were more of an art director, lead designer, design manager etc. Just my two cents.

    6 points
    • Taurean BryantTaurean Bryant, almost 5 years ago

      I don't know if I agree that a role requires a specific number of years of experience, but I otherwise I agree with this. This seems like Art direction and management.

      1 point
  • John LeschinskiJohn Leschinski, almost 5 years ago

    No. I made this mistake when I was trying to find a job. If you're not applying to management level jobs it makes you look either too qualified for the job you're applying to, or they see it as you trying to puff up your CV to hide the lack of merit.

    5 points
  • Ryan QuintalRyan Quintal, almost 5 years ago


    5 points
  • Tyson KingsburyTyson Kingsbury, almost 5 years ago

    go with 'lead designer'

    Creative Director has a lot of connotations attached to it. It generally means a 'particular' thing... which kind of rules out the notion that a student could be a 'creative director'.

    for instance, when I was coming up, it usually went Jr Designer, Designer, Sr Designer, Jr Art Director, Sr Art Director, Creative Director.


    unless you yourself have been working at a design or ad agency, or whatever, for the past few years, and have worked your way up that ladder. you AREN'T a creative director.

    other opinions may vary.... but if you're getting interviewed, and other CD's talk to you, you're gonna get laughed out of the room. Seriously.

    3 points
  • James LaneJames Lane, almost 5 years ago

    The worst that can happen is someone asks how/where/when you were a creative director, then you explain what you've said here and see what their take on it is.

    I think at least having it on your CV may get you to interviews.

    3 points
    • Derek Bodily, almost 5 years ago

      That's not the worst that could happen. The worst that could happen is that you don't even make it to the interview rounds because they think you're arrogant for thinking you could possibly be a creative director as a student.

      8 points
    • Wesley HainesWesley Haines, almost 5 years ago

      Well, the worst that could happen is someone asks you where you were a CD and then you say for a 24 hour hackathon and then the employer proceeds to end the conversation there and tell their colleagues.

      2 points
  • Jennifer Nguyen, almost 5 years ago

    Normally I would say no, don't do that because there is a chance it'll be perceived as snooty. But a part of me would encourage you to try it regardless. Why don't you send out half your resumes with that title, and the other half don't? That way, all of your eggs aren't on one basket. And if you're noticing that you get more responses from companies when your resume is one way of the other, then you can shift all of your resumes to that format.

    Also, it's been 20 days since you posted this question and I'm very curious what you have experienced so far in your job hunt.

    1 point
  • Rick KhannaRick Khanna, almost 5 years ago

    No, don't do it. Creative Directors do more than lead the creative vision. There's team management, presentation skills, mentoring, bridging practices, satisfying internal and client stakeholders, and often managing budgets and P&Ls. You will get nothing but eye rolls if you list that at entry level.

    Source: am an agency Creative Director. In my experience, people need to be putting in 10 years of work on a team before you can get promoted and be effective as a Creative Director. Sorry 5 year folks. 5 years isn't enough.

    1 point
  • Duke CavinskiDuke Cavinski, almost 5 years ago

    Sure, go for it. If you came in for an interview, I'd drill you on it though.

    1 point
  • Robert BulloughRobert Bullough, almost 5 years ago

    You state that you have 8 years of experience. That is the bit which is the most interesting to an employer- talk about that more and maybe just label the project you mention above as being 'Creative Lead' to skirt ruffled feathers

    1 point
  • Yasen DimovYasen Dimov, almost 5 years ago

    Are you a Creative director? Or are you a very good, experienced designer? Have you worked as a Creative director? Do you want to work as a such?

    Titles don't matter, what matters is what you want to be as a person.

    My first job as a designer was in a small studio in Soho in 2008. I still call myself a designer...

    1 point
  • Account deleted almost 5 years ago

    if you consider, don't.

    1 point
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    0 points
  • Isabel Lynch, 12 months ago

    I don't think that would be logical, since you have absolutely no experience at all. If you want to find a good job you should hire cover letter writer which will definitely help you. I think you will find a job quickly.

    0 points
  • Michele Brantley, over 1 year ago

    Hi, I am happy to see your interesting post. I have carefully read your story and experience. In my opinion, a creative director must have many qualities, not only good design or leadership skills. Also, you must be a graduate to treat yourself as a creative director. Actually, I am a final-year student and a social activist. Recently I found this website https://graduateway.com/essay-examples/gun-control/ where they shared lots of information and example essay ideas about gun control that inspired me to write an academic paper on this topic. I think the government should take legal steps for gun control to get rid of gun violence. However, Thank you so much for your post.

    0 points
  • John PJohn P, almost 5 years ago

    I mean, no one is going to stop you, but you're going to look really dumb in an interview if someone actually expects you to be on the level of a Creative Director.

    and if they actually hired you it would probably be a red flag for that workplace anyway.

    0 points
  • Corin EdwardsCorin Edwards, almost 5 years ago

    Were you paid?

    0 points
  • Marcel van Werkhoven, almost 5 years ago
    • Leaders tell people what they aspire to be, not what they are
    • Don't ask for permission to be who or what you want to become
    • Seize an opportunity when it presents itself
    • Identify the gaps in your knowledge and skill and start learning

    For example. My 'agency' used to be just a group of webdevelopers working with a custom built PHP CMS and mainting an online billing platform. We had 0 designers on the payroll as all design was outsourced. The company split and I found myself promoted from project manager to the 'COO' role. I rebranded us to a Digital Agency and I figured it out from there.

    About 2 - 3 years later we have experience in a wide variety of fields. We've grown from 4 employees to 12, including a great design team and the agency completely transformed. I didn't ask anyone for permission to start selling our services as a Digital Agency nor did anyone question my title as COO. Of course it took a lot of work on my end to fill in the missing gaps in my skillset. I could no longer ignore HR, finance and other fields I had previously not wanted to get involved in.

    If you think you can do a great job as a creative director, make that your title. Don't let anyone tell you, you can't do it. Even if you land a job and it doesn't work out you'll probably learn from the experience. I learned that axing development on an ancient CMS and switching over to WordPress would mean losing some people we thought were irreplacable.

    Maybe you aim too high or maybe it'll work out. You won't know unless you take the risk and try. But if you move in at say a junior designer role from college and don't make yourself get noticed in a leadership position you could be 'stuck' in that spot for a long, long time.

    This wasn't easy mind you. But running an agency with happy employees and serving some big clients that love the work that we do tells me that I made the right call.

    0 points
  • Chris KeithChris Keith, almost 5 years ago

    Do you still want to contribute design work? A creative director spends a lot of time in meetings, communicating with other stakeholders, providing mentorship, and of course, provides creative vision/direction to their team and empowers them to contribute their best work.

    First decide if you’re ready to step away from being in the weeds of your craft and step toward being a leader that thinks at higher levels. This can be a difficult transition for us designers to make.

    0 points
  • Dennis Weinhardt, almost 5 years ago

    It's just a title. You chould choose "Lead Designer" if that suits you more. If you have the chance to talk about your role on the project and explain what you did in then the title doesn't matter in the first place.

    0 points
  • Jared KrauseJared Krause, almost 5 years ago

    As long as you explain the position, go for it.

    Calling yourself a "Creative Director" instead of "Lead Designer" could open the path for many other (better) job opportunities in the future. Don't limit yourself with a title. People saying no are just gatekeeping.

    This is also the problem with titles

    -2 points
    • John LeschinskiJohn Leschinski, almost 5 years ago

      it can also close the path for job opportunities.

      5 points
    • John PJohn P, almost 5 years ago

      People are not "gate keeping", we're trying to stop OP ending up in a job interview then when asked about their experience managing, hiring etc they have to begrudgingly admit they haven't actually done any of that and they actually wasted the interviewers time.

      -1 points
  • Ollie BarkerOllie Barker, almost 5 years ago

    If that's the title that best sums up the work you did then of course :)

    -3 points
  • Mārtiņs ZemlickisMārtiņs Zemlickis, almost 5 years ago

    Write what you want. Titles are just titles, if you think you can do it... then try and do it...

    -5 points
    • Account deleted almost 5 years ago

      I can see that you've just offended ux desingers/leaders without any proper design background lol.

      0 points