I was given the responsibility to find my replacement before I leave for a summer of R&R and ultimately begin the MICA GD MFA graduate school in the Fall. To be honest, I was pretty disappointed by a good 90% of the portfolios that were sent in. Which leads me here. I want to share some very simple things that designers anywhere can do to ensure they put themselves in the best possible position to be reviewed for the job.
Disclaimer: I am not in Human Resources. I am a graphic designer at a small consulting firm in the Bay Area. That said, I am a gatekeeper of sorts when it comes to who gets an interview. So, take my advice with a grain of salt, but remember, people who are hiring really want to find out that you are the right one for the job. We’re on the same side here!
1. The people who are hiring are busy—VERY BUSY.
That’s why we’re hiring because we need help! Be mindful of this and don’t make anyone’s lives more difficult. Don’t send 10MB files that will eventually close out our accounts, or emails with 10 images all attached separately. If it’s a hassle to use/open/read, it’s likely I’m going to close the window and move on to the next one.
2. Follow directions.
If there are detailed instructions upon application, it’s probably for a reason. A lot of things are automated on the recruiting side and if you don’t follow directions, chances are your portfolio will likely be lost and end up either in the spam box or the trash. That’s just no good for anyone!
3. Check your spelling.
This is basic, and honestly, I’m a little shocked I even have to mention it. A small spelling error in any correspondence speaks volumes to me. I want to find someone who is meticulous and detail-oriented. If you let a spelling error slip through what presumably is your best foot forward, what might slip through on the final $800 poster we’re printing tomorrow?
Also, this a JOB, so be professional. That means capitalize your “i”s when you’re writing anything to a potential employer. (Yes, this actually happened and I can hardly believe it myself)
4. Customize your application for my job opening.
This is really important to me. Nothing irks me more than an email that is an obvious cookie cutter template that is two sentences long. At the very least you should address it to my company!! If you don’t have the time to do the research into my company and write a thoughtful letter as to why you would be a great addition to our team, why should I take the time to review your portfolio?
5. Follow up by email a week later
Remember when I said that the people who are hiring were busy? Yep, it’s true. Sometimes I couldn’t get through all of the portfolios on a regular basis, so when someone went out of their way to follow up with me by email a week later, I would always flag their their portfolio and make sure I opened it that day. Your follow up email functions on a couple of levels, it’s a quick reminder that you’re in the pool of applicants and immediately floats you to the top. It also shows initiative and an avid interest in us, which is always a good thing.
6. Think of your resume as a showcase of your design skills.
Here’s the only tip that actually relates to design. I evaluate candidates in the following way:
Did they follow directions? check
Did they write a customized email? check
And then I go strait for the resume. Presumably to see work experience or education, right? Nope. I go to it because it shows me your design skills. Are you packaging yourself as a brand? Does that brand translate through your portfolio design? Does your style of design mesh well with my company’s? Do you pay close attention to type? Do you have an eye for layout design? The resume is a showcase of your design skills in one short stop.
So, in summary, be thoughtful, be detailed and be enthusiastic about the job opening. These tips can help you get your foot in the door, but remember, it’s your design skills that will get you that offer letter.