Steps to Landing Your Perfect Gig in The Design World

Tips to ensure your work gets seen and you get hired!

Whether you’re trying to land your first design job or striving to move on up to a better one, the process of applying to jobs can be a shot in the dark. With hundreds and hundreds of people applying to the same job, you need to make sure you have the edge and stand out amongst the crowd. Here are some ways to increase your odds of being seen and getting hired!


1. Crafting Your Online Presence

Whether your line of work is illustration, web design, or animation, the most important thing is not just solely having a collection of great work but making sure it gets seen. These days it’s very easy to set up your own blog or website, but you can also draw eyes to your site and your work by posting your portfolio pieces on creative sites like Behance, Dribbble, Tumblr, Instagram, or Vimeo. A good rule of thumb is to be very active on these sites by not only posting your work, but by following other artists and commenting on their work. And a word of advice, avoid randomly posting your own work in other artists comment sections to get views or feedback as this is universally frowned upon and considered a pretty spammy practice. You may be asking how often should you post your work onto these sites. I try to post a piece of work once a week, whether it’s your behind the scenes process (which a lot of people enjoy seeing), a still, or a short snippet from an animation. Ensuring you post often helps to maintain a constant presence on the feeds of these sites. If you’re not creating enough client work to post enough content weekly, make it a point to work on a small personal project every week. We live in a time where GIF’s are a viable platform to show off your work in the form of short 3–5 second clips. Dribbble and Tumblr are great online communities of creative folks constantly sharing these tiny bits and pieces of their work in GIF form. These sites are also perfect venues for getting feedback on your work and learning how you can improve. I can attest to the benefits of creating often and sharing your work to the point that it inspired me to host an entire series on lynda.com on the importance and benefits of creating and learning everyday. Not only does posting and sharing your work on these sites allow more chances of your work being seen, it also helps you…


2. Network

Being active in the design community sharing your work not only increases your online presence but simultaneously allows you to meet other creative folks that can inspire you or give you feedback on your work. The people you develop relationships with can help introduce you to the right people. Twitter and LinkedIn are good places to plant your online flag and cultivate your professional network. Getting to know people and develop relationships takes time but it’s a great investment that can pay off big, so make sure this is something you allow yourself to work on so you can organically meet the right people throughout your career. Start by following creatives who inspire you, comment on their work, share their work with your followers, and get to know them. A great way to gain followers is by sharing useful articles, tips, or tutorials relevant to your field, artists work you enjoy, and anything else you think your ideal audience would find interesting. Companies get hundreds and hundreds of inquires so just having your work out there is not enough. Sometimes it’s all about who you know and by building your online presence and reputation, it will ensure you have a leg up on getting hired if you have a recommendation by someone close to the company you want to work at.


3. Allow Your Individuality to Shine

Distinguish yourself from the pack! When reaching out to potential employers, don’t craft generic emails that could be sent to multiple companies at once. And when reaching out to a company, don’t just drone on about yourself and your accomplishments. Companies want to know what you can do for them so frame everything you say in terms of how you can help that company. Be sure do your research and know the ins and out of that company so you’ll be able to talk specifically about why you like their company (whether it’s their style of design or the quality in general) and what you can do for them. We work in a creative field so be creative with how you craft your e-mail. On Dribbble and Twitter, many companies place ads in GIF form that attracts attention, why shouldn’t you do the same when looking for work? By adding some imagery or humor, whether it’s by making a fun animated GIF about the company or yourself or cracking a (appropriate) joke about your skill set, it can help make you stand out and form a lasting impression.


Crafting an interesting GIF to send along with your e-mail helps you get noticed. (Credit: https://dribbble.com/Motion)


4. Learning from Failure

If you don’t hear back from a company, don’t hesitate to be persistent and reach out a couple of times to check in and ask about the status of the position to show your maintained interest. If you get rejected, your job is far from over. Politely ask the company if they can give you constructive criticism on your work or your interview so that you can be more effective in the future. Some clients may be open to this and appreciate the initiative you’re taking, some may not. Putting in the effort to try to learn how you could improve is always a good trait to exhibit to a company. And listen, we’ve all been rejected at some point. It’s the necessary consequence of putting yourself out there, so don’t be discouraged by rejection. You have to keep in mind that while there will be people better than you, there will be people worse than you too. The difference between the designers who are good and those who are bad are that the good designers worked past their bad work to get to the good stuff, so keep striving to get better!


5. Commitment to Improvement

Always be learning new things and adding new skills to your skill set. Aim to learn something new everyday, no matter how little that thing may be. Step back and review your portfolio. If your current portfolio of work isn’t relevant to the job you’re trying to get, make sure your creating the type of work that you want to work on! A company will never hire you for work/skills you’ve never shown. Have weaknesses? Work on them! There’s so much free information online in the form of tutorials or articles on how improve at literally anything! There are also some great resources for structured learning provided by numerous online schools and subscription based learning sites like lynda.com that can help you if you’re lacking in fundamental skills like design, animation, or any other business related topic. And finally…read! There are some amazing books out there like ‘Show Your Work that can give you great insight on how to grow as a creative and how to get noticed.

It’s always good to be honest with yourself about your own skills. The sooner you address your weaknesses, the sooner you can improve your portfolio and the chances of getting hired!


By EJ Hassenfratz. If you have any tips or questions on how to get hired, or topics you’d like to see me write about, feel free to email me at ej@eyedesyn.com. You can also find me on Twitter or on my website.

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