How a designer can get found
The tips that will help get to such an employer that needs you, not a closed vacancy.
I’m Sasha Tikhonov, co-founder and art director at Flyphant.
I’ve worked in several companies, passed many interviews, but carried out even more interviews myself. I met different candidates, those who:
- look for a higher salary;
- have no common language with colleagues;
- don’t like the projects;
- don’t like the clients;
- just go around to see how everyone works;
- need money urgently.
I would like to help first and foremost those who belong to points 2, 3 and 4. Not only you are seeking, you are also sought after. Depending on the professional level, appropriate colleagues, projects and clients are waiting for you somewhere.
What you need to do:
Step 1: talk to your boss
Step for designers belonging to points 1 and 3.
Make sure you need to change place of employment. It happens that employers compromise easily to make you stay. If you handle your work, it is easier to keep you than find another designer. If you need higher salary and this is the reason why you are looking for a different job, talk to your boss. The salary can be raised.
If you change your place of employment because the current tasks do not interest you, it can also be improved. Talk to your boss. He may well be not even guessing that you don’t like to draw icons, and want to spend most of the time designing interfaces.
If you are determined to change your job, notify your employer in advance. They will be grateful, you will make life easier that way. And they may help you with your search.
Step 2: prepare your portfolio
You need to update your portfolio regularly, not only prepare it before you look for a job. The updated portfolios are being watched. And you can even get a job offer.
Do not send your portfolio in PDF, Dropbox or any other non-public format. It smells badly. If your portfolio is not public, there is a risk that the works are not yours. Also, such portfolios usually contain nothing about the projects, besides the pictures. So the employer doesn’t even feel like clicking these links. Register at Behance, MaterialUp, Dribbble (though, you have to try hard to get an invitation to the latter) or any other similar popular service, and start adding projects. It is convenient to look through your portfolio and information about you at these services.
Sometimes, the works are under NDA. This means that it is not allowed to show these works to anyone, even with a password-secured link. If this is your case, write about it near the link to your work (yes, everybody does send and show such works). But in my experience such an explanation was added just 3–4 times (rarely). Do not remove the old projects from the portfolio, because they help to understand how you have grown with time.
In your portfolio, try to not only show pictures, but also tell something about the projects and your role in them. Perhaps, you were a technical designer, a designer or an art director. This is important for those who are looking for a designer.
A well-prepared portfolio will tell not only how well you deal with Photoshop or Sketch, but also a bit about your abilities to narrate about the projects.
Step 3: write a letter
Responding to a vacancy, write more than three words. «This is my portfolio» and the link to it — this looks as if you couldn’t care less.
Tell where you are from, what you would like to do. That same interface design is a wide variety of work, including UX (interface structure, wireframes, prototype based on that) and UI (design concept, buttons, fields, lists, mockups, creating UI Kit etc.) and animation (what, where and how fast something should move, appear, disappear). Tell why you are changing your workplace and why you’ve left your previous one. And do not hesitate to say about your salary expectations if the job description says nothing about that. The majority of employers define the budget for the vacancy in advance, so your wish could immediately cut off all unnecessary communication.
It may seem commonplace, but write without mistakes. Neglect of grammar and punctuation will understate the opinion of you greatly. Half of all CVs sent to us contain gross mistakes. Disgusting to read.
If you send a CV to several companies at once (make a mailing list), then do not be lazy to remember what position in each of the companies you are sending it for. Recently, a designer asked after discussing a job position: «And could you please remind me the details of a job?». After such a question, you can not only fail to get a response, but receive negative answer from other companies (yes, we do communicate with each other).
And write in a few words, how you learned about the vacancy.
Proper portfolio and cover letter usually lead to an invitation (for the interview). If you are not invited, then either the wage expectation is too big, or the desire to work does not meet the planned objectives, or the level of works is insufficient. However, the latter can be improved by learning. Any skill can be pulled up. But not every employer is ready to teach. Many of them need a certain-level prepared designer.
Step 4: pass the interview
Come to an interview looking in such a way like you would like to come to work every day. The interview is needed to see your real appearance, and not the false cover. A tuxedo will look strange on a candidate for a technical designer vacancy.
Be honest. Even if the answer is not in your favour, its honesty will help make up for it.
Do not say that you need this job. By «need» I mean that you can’t live without it, that it is already the 30th place of interview. Do not plead for sympathy. It repels.
The steps are simple. Nothing special, by sight. But if only you knew how many candidates for this or that vacancy do not stick to at least a third of the listed tips. If this is helpful — share your story with me at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below. Even if it isn’t — do share. I’m curious.