Maybe you are just about to graduate and are wondering how to go about getting your first design job? Or perhaps you are applying for loads of design jobs and not even getting a first interview?
As someone that employs designers, there are classic mistakes that designers make that stop them progressing in the recruitment process. These mistakes are so easy to rectify, given a bit of effort and thought.
So here are 5 really simply tips to give you a much greater chance of getting the design job you want.
First impressions really do count, so why on earth would you send a generic email like “Dear Sir, please find attached my CV”? This is your first chance to show your personality and demonstrate how keen you are to join their company. So, write an amazing email that works for all the companies you are applying to and then tweak it each time so it is tailored to that specific company. For example, make sure you say how much you like their work and particularly love Case Study “X” and case study “Y”. You might want to say how much you agree with their values of A, B and C and this is just the sort of company you want to work for. It really is not difficult to visit a prospective employer’s website and take a few things from it. The result of this is that you play to the ego of the company manager/owner and show that you are the sort of person that does their homework. From a personal point of view, I judge the introductory email as much as I do the attached CV.
From your intro email, to your CV, portfolio and interview, show and tell just how much you love design. You should be able to talk about your favourite designers or who has inspired you to be a graphic designer. Think about your favourite brands and why.
Also, make sure everything you present is designed. It baffles me how many times I get a carefully designed portfolio and then the CV is attached as a basic Word document. You need to show that you are design itself, you are your own brand and that is transmitted through all that you are and all that you do, from your CV, to your portfolio, through to the way you physically present yourself.
You are not applying for a bank job or an admin assistant, you are applying for a creative job, so… be creative! Really consider your portfolio and how you show your work. Remember it is not just about the work you have done, there is as much value in how you present your work. Make sure all your work is beautifully photographed demonstrating to your potential employer that you really care about the work you produce.
Think carefully about your own personal brand and show consistency across all communications, from your email sign off, to your CV to your pdf and online portfolio. And what about the format? Maybe you want to really impress and send a beautifully printed document through the post, you will definitely have more chance of making a lasting impression if you do. You could even produce a creative video and even better, if you can add some personalisation specific to that company, would almost guarantee you an interview.
The first question I am going to ask you in the interview is “What do you know about FINALLY?” and what I want to hear is that you have gone through the website and understood what we are all about. There are no excuses such as “I didn’t have time” and I don’t want to hear “You’re a creative agency” I want to know that you understand our proposition, the way we work and the values we live by.
I am then likely to ask “What is your favourite FINALLY case study?” If you can’t name one or two then you will not get through to the next round. This is not about egos, this is about you demonstrating that you have the right attitude, you do your homework and you are prepared to make an effort.
It will only take you 15 minutes to get to know the business, it’s even ok to bring some notes in, but just make sure you do it.
Taking on a new person is a big investment in terms of time and money, so employing someone with the right attitude is arguable more important than anything else. So you need to show how much you want this design position for this company. This means responding to emails quickly and in a really positive manner. If you are given a task to do, make sure you give it everything and that it answers the brief.
Make sure nothing is a problem and if you get an interview, second interview or even a job offer, make sure you sound excited!
Don’t just churn out applications, thinking that quantity will win over quality, it won’t. Make an effort, let’s be honest, you probably have a list of the top 5 companies you want to work for, so put more energy into getting the job that you really want. Good luck!