I love working with and around design but am not a graphic designer and know my limitations. I understand design and in fact I’m a very good designer of business processes. How would you recommend that I sell myself to get a job working with a design firm?
As AIGA perfectly points out, the reality of “finding your first design job means matching your creativity and skill with an organization’s real needs. It is also a valuable learning experience. While you are looking, you are learning about the various ways design is practiced. Your next job searchâ€”whether it occurs soon or well down the roadâ€”will be easier; you will have gained a clearer vision of the field and how you want to position yourself within it.”
- 1. Portfolio
I’m assuming your portfolio is limited as your experience doesn’t lie within Graphic Design but within business. Therefore the most important asset you have is your portfolio, so it needs to impress. So how to build a quality portfolio without any real experience?
There are two options open to you:
Volunteering of your services (or working for a reduced-fee) doing Pro-Bono work within your local community will not only help get your name out there but it will show your skills and capabilities to potential employers.
The most important benefit of pro-bono work is it gives you real-life problem solving situations AND clients to deal with. It demonstrates you can cater to both the needs of the audience and the requirements of the organisation involved.
(b) Self Generated
Creating a brief and undertaking a project initiated by you means you have the chance to seriously challenge yourself. You have complete creative freedom so if you choose to create your own brief then make sure to make it stand out. Many Art Directors choose a designer on their body of work not the size of their clients, with this in mind, if you’re filling your portfolio with self-generated work, you need to make it fantastic.
Ideally for those without much design experience, a combination of both self-generated and pro-bono work is ideal.
- 2. Web Presence
You may not be applying for a web design job but in today’s market you still need a website. Even if it’s just a simple one-page resume site, it let’s you market your name and qualifications worldwide.
Having a website also gives you a professional email address such as email@example.com; much better than firstname.lastname@example.org. It shows you’ve put thought and consideration into how you present yourself and your experience to all potential employers.
- 3. Network
One of the best ways to generate real-world experience and to get your name out there is to get networking! Easier said than done, that’s what your thinking I know, but once you get over the initial nerves it can be a very successful way to start building your contacts.
Get involved in local networking events, your chamber of commerce and creative meetups such as Open Coffee or Barcamp. Before you go just make sure you have business cards (or Moo cards like me)!
- 4. Bound Portfolio
As your aiming for a Graphic Design job you need to be able to bring a portfolio of you work to the employer – presented in a case. It should be neat, professional and stylish (note this doesn’t mean it has to be expensive).
Your goal is to choose 10 – 20 of your best samples. Think quality, not quantity. These provide evidence of the standard of your work and show you are both prepared and organised.
You should also be prepared to leave some samples with the employer.
- 5. Research
If you know the type of work you ideally want to be involved in, then try and make your portfolio match this. Though on the flip side while it’s fantastic to be great at one skill than mediocre at 10, you will need to know about the industry as a whole.
When going for a specific job, research the company both online and offline. Perhaps see if the company has a blog and don’t forget to actually show you’ve done some research. You’ll show the employer you’ve taken the time to learn about the position and company thoroughly and this will demonstrate you’re interested and passionate about the job.
I hope my answer proves beneficial! Do you have any advice to give on this subject, then please leave a comment below.