How to Get a Job as a Graphic Designer Part One
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.
This advice may seem basic, but in our experience, only a handful of designers are aware of how to follow through with these steps. Here’s our secret equation that may not get you the job, but can definitely leave a lasting impression.
How to Get a Job as a Graphic Designer
1. Find out who at the firm is responsible for the hiring.
You can achieve this in one of two ways: Go to the Contact Us page of their website and look under the section about job inquiries, if it’s not there, give them a call and very briefly ask who you should address your cover letter and e-mail to. Personalizing your e-mail and cover letter is important, because it shows that you took the time to look at the agency’s site and didn’t apply blindly.
2. Write a cover letter in addition to your e-mail.
They probably don’t teach this in school anymore and you may think it is outdated, but it isn’t. A cover letter isn’t the intro in your e-mail.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. Also, it should give the firm 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 resume is not an infographic.
I cannot stress this enough. It has been a recent trend over the past several 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 your typography. For examples of well-designed resumes check out this Pinterest board that we’ve assembled.
4. Follow up with a hand-written note.
In following up, most designers send an e-mail inquiring about the status of their application. Typically they do not receive a response back. Instead, consider a hand-written note of inquiry to cut through the clutter of e-mail red tape. It can be simple and understated, but most likely it will be seen by the firm as a very classy move.
Preparing for the Interview
5. 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.
6. Show up 5 minutes early and don’t wear jeans.
7. Bring your portfolio, printed copies of your resume, and a notepad.
Most people we’ve interviewed over the years don’t bring any of these things. If you have a print portfolio it’s always best to view it in person. 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.
8. Show 4 – 8 pieces in your portfolio – no more.
Select your best work and show only that at the first interview. It shows you are aware of the time you’ll have to meet and that you know how to edit yourself.
9. 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.