Design Job Hunting Advice for Post-Graduation
You just graduated college and you’re ready to enter the real world. So how do you find out about jobs that are currently open? Some methods are more effective than others, especially in the design industry. Conducting proper research when it comes to job hunting for designers will help you secure a job quickly and hopefully stress-free. Here are a few tips to remember when searching for your first design job:
Update Your Resume + Portfolio
To land creative design jobs, you must have a solid portfolio that demonstrates your quality of design thinking and problem solving. Regardless of what field you’re in, you should tailor your resume and portfolio to each prospective employer. This means updating your resume and portfolio frequently when you’re going through the hiring process.
If you just graduated, you probably don’t have much experience. If you do, great. If you list work experience outside the design field, make sure you explain how it’srelevant. What skills did you learn at that position that can be carried over to your new career? If you had any leadership or team-driven positions, it can look great on your resume, even though it wasn’t a design job. If you still need to fill up your resume, go into more detail about particular courses you took at school. Highlight your academic success, projects you completed, awards you won, etc.
Pay Attention to the Details
Read full job descriptions and follow the instructions exactly. Employers do this on purpose to weed out the people who don’t follow instructions properly. If they ask for a link to your portfolio and a resume attached, you better have both done. If you don’t follow these instructions, you run the risk of being auto-deleted and never given a chance. Give yourself a chance to be considered by not makings silly mistakes that could have been avoided.
Also, job descriptions in the design industry are very vague and terms can be misinterpreted for something completely different. A web designer might actually mean front-end development, while a graphic designer might be expected to know HTML and CSS. Again, it’s really important to understand that the job you’re applying for is appropriate for your skills. Even if you don’t have the proper qualifications, still apply. There’s no harm in taking a shot.
Search Job Boards
The obvious place to start with your job hunt search – job boards. Be aware that although there are lots of jobs available on these sites, there are also hundreds of applicants pursuing the same posting. I’ve never had much luck with these job boards, but it shouldn’t discourage you from applying. If anything, it can help you get a better idea of what employers are looking for in candidates. Stay away from sites like 99designs that promote spec work.
- Authentic Jobs
- Smashing Job Board
- 37 Signals Job Board
- Creative Hotlist
- HOW Design Jobs
Contact Agencies That Aren’t Hiring
When I was searching for an internship in my hometown, I contacted every design agency that came up in Google. Some places were hiring, but most weren’t. The company I ended up doing my internship wasn’t hiring when I contacted them, but they liked my work and gave me an opportunity to work for the summer and gain some experience. Even if you don’t hear a response back, some agencies might keep your information on file and contact you later on when they are looking for someone. It’s a good idea to make yourself known to the agencies close by, even if they don’t happen to be actively looking for a designer.
Leverage Social Media & Personal Connections
Your best chance of landing a design position is through personal connections. Using social media as a medium to connect with others is a good way to create and develop relationships. Many designers will hear about the job through friends before the position has even been advertised. Have the mindset that everyone you meet, whether online or offline, is important. You never know who that people might know and what opportunities they can provide for you. Start building up your personal network and don’t be afraid to ask if they know of any jobs that are available.
Keep Track of Leads
If you’re a fresh graduate, your job search may take several weeks or months. That’s why it’s important to keep track of you who you have already contacted, who you haven’t and which leads you need to follow-up with. The easiest way to do this is to create a Google Doc with a chart of the following info:
- Company name
- Job title and description
- Name and e-mail address of the primary contact for the job
- Date you applied
This will allow you to see your job hunting progress all in one place, instead of your e-mail inbox. Are you hearing back from most of the companies you apply at? If not, maybe try a different approach with your resume and portfolio and see if you see any results. If you haven’t heard anything back from a company within a week, send a polite follow-up note to remind them about your application. Don’t be too pushy, they might just be back-logged from too many applications. If you haven’t heard back in a month, don’t bombard them with e-mails and put that lead on the back-burner for now and pursue others.. It’s always nice when companies let you know whether or not you made it to the next round, but it usually doesn’t happen, so don’t get discouraged.