Many job seekers do not always know where to start when looking for an entry level job at a top design firm. Before you start pounding the pavement with your portfolio, review these important steps:
Writing down some preliminary notes about yourself will help you prepare for the job search process by providing you a mental foundation to launch your search.
First, review your resume.
If you did not get a college or trade school degree with a design major, did you take web design classes? If so, include those in your resume. Also include hands-on design experience, technical web design skills, and any special design workshops/conferences that you attended. Remember, a college education is not necessary to land a design jobâ€”so it is useful to point out all the other related training you have received.
Your resume is also another chance to show off your design skills. Your resume should not only include all the pertinent information, it should reflect your style as a designer as well by using good typography and spacing.
Write down your strengths and weaknesses.
Explain how these may affect your chosen career path. For example, one of your strengths could be the ability to learn new things very quickly. This may mean that although your specialty is in web design, given a little bit of training, you can tackle print graphic design projects just as well.
Make another list.
This one will describes your design style. How would you describe it? Do you like simple, clean lines? Are you good at adding lots of bells and whistles to a website and making it work well?
Prepare Your Portfolio
When preparing your portfolio, pick out your best work. Include the work you are most proud of and can talk about confidently and intelligently. Most people remember only the first and last of a sequence, so organize your entries accordingly.
Show a breadth of talent in your portfolio as well. You might want to show off one project where you were able to pull off lots of technical additions to a website, one that shows your ability to create an e-commerce site, and one that shows your ability to keep it simple with beautiful and clean lines. The portfolio should reflect your work as a designer so pick the pieces that really represent your talent and creativity.
Contact Design Firms
There are several avenues for finding job opportunities in the web design field, but the most important is networking. Most design firms admit that their jobs are often filled through word-of-mouth. This means that you need to let as many people as possible know that you are a talented web designer available for an entry level position.
Use job placement services.
If you have access to school job placement services, thatâ€™s a great place to start. The career counselor on staff might also have leads that have not yet been entered into the job database so itâ€™s always beneficial to have a chat with him or her when you go in.
Try alumni lists.
Sign up for your schoolâ€™s alumni list. Alumni services often keep searchable lists of alumni who work in certain fields or at certain companies. Reach out to alumni who either are working in your desired career field or at your preferred design firms and discuss your interest with them. This could open the door to an informational interview or more.
Contact top design firms.
Make a list of all the top design firms you would like to work for and find their contact information. Send a copy of your portfolio, resume, and brief introductory cover letter to someone in the hiring department of the firm. Call the firm and ask who you should address your materials toâ€”never send it to â€œHRâ€ or address anything to â€œSir or Madamâ€. If you know someone personally at the firm, ask that person to hand in your materials for you so that it gets special attention.
Do some social networking.
If you participate in social/career networking sites like Linked-In, try to find someone who is connected to that design firm. If you can, make contact and ask if you can call or email and discuss your interest with them. Remember, your goal is to let people at your preferred design firm know that you are a potential candidate for any entry level position they may have open.
Check the big job databases and the niche design ones like Creative Hot List. It never hurts.
Prepare for the Interview
Design firms not only look at the strength of your portfolio and web design skills, they are also looking at other factors. Itâ€™s important that a good attitude and a pleasant personality come across during your interview. Here are some tips for interview day:
1) Pay attention during the interview! Just because this is a creative position, it does not mean that candidates should take the interview process any less seriously. You still need to represent yourself as a professional who knows how to respect clients and work well with others.
2) Sharpen your communication skills. Practice talking about your portfolio, work or school experience, etc. Employers want to know that you can articulate your concepts just as well as you can create them.
3) Convey your ability to be flexible. As a web designer, you will likely come across all kinds of clients and types of projects. The firm will want employees who can wear different design hats depending on the clientâ€™s needs.
4) Communicate your desire to grow and learn as a designer. You are applying for an entry level job so be humble when it comes to the chance to learn alongside some seasoned designers!
Finding an entry level job in any field can be a challenge, but the hard work placed into the job search will be worth it when you find yourself starting a career doing something you enjoy.