How to Get a Graphic Design Job
As a new designer, chances are you didn’t get a lot of experience in school on how to apply for, interview and follow up on a job. It can be a daunting task, but there are a few things that you can do right to put yourself ahead of the competition.
The creative director, owner, or senior designer will spend about 7 – 10 seconds reviewing your portfolio before deciding to invest more time, or look at another candidate. Focusing on the quality and diversity of your work, is of upmost importance.
How to Get a Job as a Graphic Designer
1. Your portfolio should reflect the quality, style and aesthetic of the studios in which you want to work.
The more you already have a similar look and feel to your work, the less they have to train you and the more valuable and impactful you will be as a team member.
For example, if your preferred design style is like Stefan Sagmeister, you most likely won’t get interviewed by a firm that specializing is corporate identities. Sure, they may vary styles a bit between designers on their team, but mostly everyone is on a similar wavelength style wise.
2. Craft a cover letter in addition to your email.
A cover letter isn’t the intro in your e-mail. It should match the styling and design of your resume and be 2-3 short paragraphs in length. A cover letter is important, because it shows the agency that you respect them enough to apply professionally.
A good cover letter should tell the firm what position you are applying for. It should give them an idea of who you are (without bragging about yourself) and what you enjoy doing. Then share 1 – 2 comments that you like about their company and why you think that you would be a good fit there.
3. A résumé isn’t an infographic.
I cannot stress this enough. It has been a trend for the past 10+ years to receive resumes as infographics, but this isn’t a good trend. Instead, you should present your resume in a classic layout with attention to the strength of your typography abilities. For examples of well-designed resumes check out this Pinterest board that we’ve assembled. Keep it simple.
Preparing for the Interview
Research the firm before your interview.
You need to be able to speak with them about their work and how you would be a good fit with their process, culture and design aesthetic, etc. They already know this, otherwise they wouldn’t be interviewing you, but you need to do your homework.
Show up on time and dress professionally.
This can be simple like a button down top and nice pair of pants.
Bring copies of your résumé, and a notepad.
Copies of your resume show that you think ahead. A notepad lets them know you have humility and are eager to learn and receive feedback.
New designers: Show 5 – 8 projects
Experienced designers: Show 10 – 15 projects
Show off your best work in your portfolio that represents you as a designer and the kind of work you want to continue to do.
Be prepared for your portfolio to be critiqued and be willing to have the humility to follow through with their instruction.
Some creative directors will critique your portfolio as they review it. They are doing this to see how well you respond to constructive criticism. Are you open to art direction? Do you have an ego? Will you modify your work and then send it back to them in order to show that you are teachable, even if there is a possibility that they won’t hire you? Historically, many firms have made hires based specifically on this action alone.