The school year has ended, and design graduates are pouring out of colleges and universities everywhere, ready to compete for a coveted design job.
What does it take to make yourself an outstanding candidate for a career in design?
Allovus Creative Recruiter Miranda Wilimczyk was recently asked by Karen Gutowsky-Zimmerman, professor of the Visual Communications department for Seattle Pacific University, to meet with this year’s design graduates to discuss how to land their first job.
Miranda’s advice included the importance of networking. “The power of networking is huge. The more people you talk to, the better chances you have of finding a job.” For some, it’s difficult to reach out to people they don’t know. It takes effort to network. “You have to put yourself out there,” Miranda said. “Connect through LinkedIn, join a design organization like AIGA, or go to events geared toward designers.”
Top 7 tips when applying for design jobs:
- Focus on the discipline you want to get into. There are many specialized areas of design. High-tech companies are very specific. They are not looking for generalists. For example, here is the list of disciplines that Allovus regularly places in creative projects:
- UX design
- Visual design
- Interaction design
- Design integration
- Production design
- Motion design
- User research
- Project management
- Refocus your online portfolio and resume to the type of job you want. If you want a job as a visual designer, be sure to show examples of that in your portfolio. Don’t have examples yet? Create some! Take an existing site or product, dissect it, and redesign it the way you’d like it to be. (Just be sure to mention that along with the images of your design on your site.) You can also come up with a brand new product idea and create a logo, branding, banners, ads, etc.
- If you don’t have much job experience, volunteer to do some pro bono work. There are lots of nonprofit companies out there with little to no budget. Offer to redesign their website, create print materials, etc. They get professional designs and you get the experience. Everybody wins. Check out AIGA’s Changemaker series, which unites teams of creative professionals with nonprofit and social change organizations to use design thinking, sustainable frameworks, and creative tools to help advance their mission.
- Get involved in design organizations and go to their meetups. Orgs like AIGA, mentioned above, are a great place to network and get to know people in the industry. Those connections can be vital to your career.
- Be proactive. Is there a company you have your sights on? Look them up on LinkedIn and message the creative director there. Art directors and project/program managers may see hundreds of resumes for each job opening. Make yourself top-of-mind by connecting a personality and a voice with your resume.
- Research salaries before you interview. Before you negotiate, have an accurate idea of what you can ask for. People either think they aren’t worth anything or they think they should make way more than they should. Go to a site like salary.com to find out a ballpark range for the type of job you’re looking for.
- Proofread. Be mindful of everything you put on your resume and portfolio. Check for typos, make sure it’s well-designed, and make the images large enough for people to see them.
We hope that helps you get started as you search for your dream job! If you’re in the market now, feel free to shoot our friendly creative recruiters an email.