For those who are starting out in the creative industry, or who are thinking of joining, these tips will help you land a design job.
Getting a job
Like everyone says, it’s not easy. Things have been quite a roller coaster ride for me since graduating last July. I had a string of five interviews within the space of five or six weeks before becoming Junior Designer here at printed.com. I had a six month internship and took a shot with it by quitting my part-time job in the hope that they’d hire me permanently. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, but I believe it gave me the motivation to look for new opportunities (one door opens and all that).
The good thing about having interview experience is being able to anticipate, prepare and learn from any mistakes you may have made in the past. Here are some bits of advice I’ve picked up along the way:
1. Research the company you have an interview with
If you don’t know them already, just jot down the basics. A small amount of information can go a long way and chances are you’ll be asked to demonstrate your knowledge. Companies often like to ask what you like about them or how you think they can improve, so it’s always handy to keep some mental notes on why you applied with them in the first place!
2. Bring notes with you to/into the interview
You can never be scrutinised for being too prepared, so don’t be afraid to take a notebook with you in order to practice before the interview starts, or to remind yourself of questions to ask—you’ll feel a lot calmer.
3. Know the work you’re presenting
Most designers will chop and change the work they decide to show employers/clients, so memorise the order you’ve placed your work in and why it’s relevant for the interview. Less is more as long as the quality and relevance are there.
4. Have back-ups!
If you’re relying on your online portfolio, try to have a printed back-up as well. This shows that you’ve thought of potential barriers, like the Internet being down or your laptop running out of battery.
5. Always be enthusiastic
Try to avoid negativities where you can. Be excited about the job role and the company you’re interviewing with. A positive personality leaves a much better lasting impression.
6. Don’t get knocked down
When an opportunity you want doesn’t pan out, stay positive and remind yourself that there will be another (maybe even better) one right around the corner!
Again, less is always more when it comes to a CV. You’re constantly hearing the dreaded timescale in which an employer or recruiter has to look at your CV and decide if you’re good enough or not (and I think everyone agrees, it’s never really in anyone’s favour). Keeping information short and sweet is generally a good rule to have, but don’t skip out on showing a bit of personality as well, so you stand out from the crowd.
Check out these CV designs on Pinterest for inspiration:
It’s always good to try and tailor your CV towards the company you are applying for. If it’s a company that reflects innovation and new ideas then doing something a bit quirkier may be worth your time. For example, this guy got a job with Google by using a QR code and a recording of his CV (and we know everyone has a smart device these days).
And Robby Leonardi has created an epic interactive game CV:
It’s common for CVs to be viewed on a screen, then printed out for the interview. This means that practicality should be a factor, too—especially considering the average reading length.
Think about having multiple versions of your CV to hand so you can show that you’re able to represent yourself in a variety of design forms. Examples of this would be sending an interactive/animated CV in an email, sending a printable, more to-the-point version, or sending a hard copy in the post. Which moves us on nicely to my next topic—print isn’t dead.
Posting your CV directly to employers makes a real statement. Think about how many emails get sent daily to your potential employers or recruiters; you may be sat there thinking the worst, when in actual fact, the email you sent was lost in a sea of other emails that they just have no time to look through! They’re probably more likely to open and engage more with a lovely bit of mail addressed to them!
Check these out:
Throughout university I was told that having an online portfolio is more beneficial and so I used Adobe’s Prosite (which is now changing to myportfolio.com). Nowadays, I mainly direct people to my Behance account, simply because I’m not constantly looking for work anymore, so it’s an easy and free way to store all your work in one place and still get noticed in the meantime.
Behance offers a free “Display” app so you can access your work from your smart device, which is also very handy. I have a printed portfolio from university, which is quite refreshing to see in an interview as well. It gives you a chance to show off your layout skills in connection with presenting your work as a printed piece and as a whole project.
Saying yes to learning, developing new skills and enhancing the current ones you have are all key in a junior design role. If you’re anything like me, you’ll want to improve on previous work, or you’ll think of new ways to develop it. Your first design job should be a constant learning experience, so now is the time to start saying yes to new challenges, taking time to do personal projects that you’d placed a mental bookmark on for “later” and thinking outside of the box with new ideas and processes. The world is your oyster. So use it!