30 May 2014
Shaun Westgate, Managing Director

How to land your first graphic design job

Job hunting

If you are a recent design graduate looking for your first job, you will be entering a very competitive environment, so it is vital that you 'stand out' from the crowd. You will have spent the last three years learning your craft and honing your skills, but now you will need to apply these in the commercial world.

In my experience, the graduates that can demonstrate a real understanding of the commercial design world and can apply their newly acquired creative skills to this environment will have a much greater success in today's job market.

I have been fortunate enough to conduct D&AD portfolio workshops for several years now, guiding graduates on how to land their first coveted design job. If you're currently looking to begin your career in the creative industry take a look below for some key things to think about before you do:

Preparing your portfolio
• Are you featuring the very best work in your portfolio?
• Are you starting with a great piece and ending with an even better one? It's important you don't show too much work, six pieces is maximum – always quality rather than quantity.
• Your portfolio should feature great ideas as well as demonstrate commercial reality and understanding. It is also important to include background copy on the projects featured to explain the brief, any background information and your design solution.
• Give careful thought to the format of your portfolio and how you are going to present it – an iPad or laptop can be very effective.

Getting your CV and letter right
Have you designed a cracking letter and CV? Your CV should truly convey your personality and outline your interests and where you get your inspiration from. Design is a way of life and it's much more than a job. Your letter needs to outline your key skills, your passions and how you are going to add value to the target company. Most importantly, both should be well written with no spelling mistakes!

Preparing for the interview
Make sure you always rehearse presenting your portfolio. Be natural, be yourself and show passion for your craft. It's important that you speak clearly and succinctly about your work in an engaging way, demonstrating energy, enthusiasm and creativity.

Marketing yourself
Have you created a simple marketing campaign to help you get some job interviews? Are you using Direct Mail or Social Media to promote yourself and your portfolio?

• Have you drawn up a list of companies you want to work for, including identifying the key decision makers?
• Are you going to create a 'stand out' Direct Mail or Social Media campaign that will help you 'stand out' from the crowd? Be creative!!

Use your talent, energy, intelligence, enthusiasm, listening skills, creativity and drive to demonstrate, to a future employer, your commitment. Finally, don't be scared to do work placements / internships as it's the perfect way to demonstrate to employers what you can do and what potential you have.

Happy job hunting!


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