So you are coming to the end of your design course?
Want to get a creative job?
Well there are a few things that you will need to concern yourself with to start getting ready now, because a job is very unlikely just to land in your lap! It’s a difficult world out there and lots of other designers competing for the same jobs you are - not just graduates, but other established designers too!
But fear not, with a good portfolio and CV (resumé for my American readers) there is hope for designers of all standings.
So here is a run down of the essential things you should be doing over the next couple of months!
- Existing CV’s: Research existing good and bad examples of designers CVs that reflect the area of design that you are interested in working within. Analyse those CVs thinking of their good and bad points - reflect on typography, information, effectiveness and ease of reading.
- You need 2 CVs
- One which is a creative CV
- One which is a simple black and white formal CV
This is because not every agency you may work for will require a creative CV - also bear in mind sometimes you may have to go through external agencies to get positions, they generally ask for a standard CV so it’s good to have one ready! (plus, if finding that perfect design job is taking too long, most regular companies will not be impressed with that Neville Brody-esque excellently produced CV - they just want to know you are skilled, experienced and mostly that you are not a serial killer…)
How to write your CV:
- Keep to an A4 size
. This is pretty obvious. Who’s gonna print out an A3 CV for their records anyway? Provide your potential employers the convenience as they are really busy people. It’s politeness. They will need to print out your CV for their own records and references. Try to keep it to one A4 page, maximum two.
- Keep It Simple, Stupid (K.I.S.S)
- Make sure your CV looks simple, easy-to-read and not full of visual jargon. It’s too easy to get carried away with over-decorations of your CV. Easy reading and relevant content are your utmost priorities, NOT aesthetics.
Type your contents on white space. Not only does it make reading easier and gives breathing space, potential employers wouldn’t want to waste so much printing ink on CVs they would throw away after the interviews, so don’t expect them to print your beautiful graphics in full colour.
Try to stick with white, black and/or grey. Be creative, even within the box!
Use 2 columns instead of one so that you can maximise the space on one page. You are the designer, so demonstrate your graphic solutions here.
If you are planning to send your CV by snail mail, you are free to be creative with it. However, content, readability and relevance are still the mandatory rules!
- Content Structure and Relevance
- Your CV should include the following (in order):
- Full name
- Job title
- Work Experience
a. You don’t necessarily have to put in the words “Curriculum Vitae” or “CV”. It’s already understood that it’s a CV. Also, it saves space.
b. Your full name should be the heading, followed by your job title.
c. Avoid putting your photograph. The same applies for date of birth and gender. According to UK laws, this is to prevent age and sex discrimination.
d. Make sure your contact details are visible. Include your website, email, phone number and address so that it’s easier for the potential employer to contact you. If you are quite conscious about your privacy, at least include the postcode and city in where you live, so that potential employees will know where you are based.
e. Objectives must be written in third party format.
“I am a competent graphic designer who is flexible. I can work within tight deadlines…”
“A flexible and competent graphic designer who is able to work within tight deadlines…”
Keep your objectives to a minimum of 30 words.
f. Skills should be put first rather than your education, followed by the next important information in line. Because you will have to impress your potential employer in the first few seconds, make sure you sort the information according to priority, as stated in the list above.
Categorise your skills according to the following: Advanced / Intermediate / Basic
This will give potential employers a clear gauge on where you stand.
g. Okay, so you’ve worked as a cashier in MacDonalds, and a sales assistant in a clothing shop….but how is that relevant to the graphic design job you are applying for? If it’s not relevant, remove it.
If you had experience working in a design agency, it’ll be good to give a short description of what you did. Highlight your key skills in here.
h. Include the clients whom you’ve worked with under the category ‘Clients’. Not only does it enhance your work experience, it shows your professionalism. If you’ve none, just leave the category out.
i. If you’ve won awards or you had your artworks exhibited, list them in the category of ‘Achievements’.
j. Make sure your latest education qualification is on top, followed by the earlier ones. The same applies for achievements and work experience.
k. This may look like one of the easiest to fill, and the most neglected, but it’s actually one of the trickiest. Interests allow employers know a bit more about you. If surfing the internet is your hobby, chances are you are put in a more negative picture because it gives the impression that you may surf the net and not work! Avoid the terms ‘clubbing’ or ‘socialising’ as this may give employers the connotation that you ‘play around’.
Unless you are working for a tour agency, ‘travelling’ may be something you want to speak less about as it makes certain employers think that you may want to take more leave (or swan off to Thailand for 6 months!) Include interests that would not otherwise jeopardise your image.
4.Use bullet points -
It makes reading a lot quicker and easier. Remember, employers scan, not read!
5. Be honest - Common sense really, but if you choose to go down the dark route, it will show, and you’ll soon be discovered.
- Be sure to prepare at least 2 references (if you’ve got no work experience, include your tutors’ references) in advance, as some employers will request them. While you do not necessarily need to include that in your CV, it is essential that you put a phrase at the bottom: “References available upon request”
7. Use appropriate mediums
- CVs are to be saved in pdf format, not doc.(except for a few exceptions) or jpeg. Make sure that the file is saved for web viewing (you can do this in InDesign > File > Adobe PDF Presets > Smallest FIle Size), so that it is small and does not clog up the inbox.
Moving onto looking at your preparation for interviews and portfolios:
- Write ups on any live projects or creative work experience you have done:
Include examples of work done and any client feedback you have. You should also write about what you learnt in these projects, and how your design work improved through this work.
- Research the opportunities that are on offer to you in the area of Design you would like to go into:
- Research Jobs, Job requirements and necessary skillsets you may need to progress in your career.
- The link here will help you get started! http://www.ycn.org/opportunities
- Research how you can promote yourself:
• Facebook, blogs, Twitter, websites, flyers, business cards, instagram, Youtube
• How much do business cards cost to be printed? Research and printscreen and include.
• How much do flyers cost to be printed? Research and printscreen and include.
• How much does web hosting and a domain name cost?
Design your own identity to use within your promotional material:
• Business Card design
• Letterhead design
• Invoice design
• Social Media pages
• Business Card design
• Letterhead design
• Invoice design
• Social Media pages
SOCIAL MEDIA FAUX PAS
Don’t put unprofessional photos, comments, opinions etc onto your social media pages - it’s the first and fastest way to lose credibility and makes yourself look daft to potential employers. More and more employers are also heading straight to Facebook and Twitter to check potential employees out - so if there’s a photo of you drinking beer out of your mates bum crack as you profile picture, don’t be surprised if you don’t get that callback!
If necessary have a professional site, and a personal one - make sure that your privacy settings are set to high on Facebook - it can solve a lot of issues!
Right, before starting your portfolio I suggest you read my post:
“9 Ways to Make your Portfolio Suck…”
You should produce a creative portfolio that is appropriate to your chosen path eg:
• Personal Website
• On-line etc
as this is the big one that can get your foot in the door!
The images at the top of the post are from the book Flaunt by Underconsideration an essential book for any prospective designer - plus you can get it instantly via purchasing the ebook directly from their site!
Some other useful tips to consider are;
Show your best work, in a sequence that makes sense. Make sure your resume is flawless, and has excellent typography. Keep it simple.
Do good ideas and execute them well. Do not spend an extraordinary amount of time mulling over the size and the form of the portfolio itself.
In web portfolios, I rarely gravitate toward the fancy stuff . I look for functionality, simplicity, beauty, and restraint. Make the site thoughtful.
Avoid having to over-explain your work to the viewer. Walk into a review, or interview, prepared with the best work possible. Let the work speak for itself.
It strikes us that the digital form of the portfolio has now taken on paramount importance. We’re much happier clicking through a straightforward PDF of greatest hits than having to waste time hearing about someone’s issues with their typography tutor or how they passed their cycling proficiency test. By pre-vetting electronically, it speeds things up massively.
Don’t include work just because it’s real. The fact that something was actually printed and used doesn’t make it more valuable.
The work should be current—ideally from the past year. It’s not a retrospective of your time in school, or proof of all of the classes you attended. It’s good to think of the collection of work in the portfolio as evidence of your skills and conceptual abilities.
Make sure that your craft is tight and clean. Pick a device that comfortably holds your work—be it a leather-bound box or a fur-covered suitcase—and reflects the type of work you hope to do. It makes a big difference, since it is usually resting on a table, in plain sight.
I hope this helps in some way to kick starting your design career - again anymore advice you may need just drop me a line here at Designlecturer!