Tell Me Your Secrets
The time to apply for jobs and career fairs is here. Currently students are scrambling to gather resume details, project pieces, and amping their social media presence. A lot of students have asked me about my social media presence and how I plan to attack the job application process. Honestly, I am shocked every time someone asks me because I’m not applying to jobs yet. But I figured I would share my personal tips that I tell with everyone who reads my blog. Everything I have learned is from my family and all of the professionals whom I have asked a million questions.
People ask me if I instagram to portray a specific persona or if it is truly me. I like to think it is me. I love to read design books, and be in nature. I love to think deeper, I only post the things I am doing in classes if I am interested in them, but I am not all professional, I have fun. I drink beer and go to parties, but I don’t feel the need to share them. So is it a persona or is it me? I’m not sure.
- Show progress and thoughts on your instagram. Employers want to know that you do not just create a pretty project from thin air.
- Show things you are interested in. For me it is nature and traveling
- Instagram when you go to events or talks. Tag the people in them! Tell them how great they were and how inspiring they were! (only if they truly are) This will get them to look at your account!
- Use hashtags. This gets more foot traffic to your account
- Get a theme. How are you editing your photos? What are you promoting? Show that!
- Do not overload your public instagram with photos of your significant others. If you want to show everyone how much you love your gf or bf maybe create a separate instagram account for your work and one for your private life
- If you are underage, do not show photos of you drinking and partying 24/7. Everyone knows people underage drink, but it is not something you need publicize
- Be careful with what you “like” because people can find that out.
“For other media platforms, if it’s not professional don’t put it out there or make it private. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be yourself (!) companies want to know you would be a good cultural fit, and that they could get a drink with you, so to speak, at the end of the day. That being said if your IG, Twitter and FB crosses a line do some editing before you start handing out cards. Would you be embarrassed if anything on there got circled around an office of people you don’t know, if so remove it. These accounts don’t have to be 100% design focused either. Like Kohler always said “…we don’t expect their portfolio to be toilets unless they’re really passionate about them…”. Your accounts should be your passions and interests, it’s ok if that isn’t exclusive to design.” -Jenn D’Eugenio
Now, I am not the best at twitter, because frankly I forget to tweet a lot of the time. It has never been my best social media skill. But here are some of the things I do when I do tweet.
- Tweet quotes from talks and tag the speaker/company
- Ask questions for the public to respond
- Share exciting updates
- Share things that inspire you throughout your education and career
- Retweet other people who inspire you
- Do not tweet inappropriate things.
- Do not tweet about that sick party you went to, unless it was a networking event.
- Post articles, but always post a caption with them. Do not just repost an article and not share your thoughts or an interesting quote or even a summary of the article.
- Share your updates even if they are not “resume worthy”.
- Asking questions to your connections…but be sure to spell check and explain why you are asking
- Add people you meet
- Message people you have met, remind them how you met, and ask them how they are doing, or tell them what you have been working on.
- Follow the companies you want to work for.
- Stay involved in the conversations with the companies you want to work for
“Make sure your LinkedIn matches your resume and expands further than what’s on paper, that is where you can go into a little more detail whereas on the paper it’s gotta be one page. Make sure you have a professional photo, doesn’t have to be a headshot, but one that I can recognize you post career fair after seeing so many faces. …and trust me having done those, it’s a LOT of faces. Your contact info should be public on there, if a recruiter has to look for it they’ll move on to someone else.” -Jenn D’Eugenio
One thing I will never forget is John McCabe saying in my portfolio and resume class “You have to have an opinion about things to be noticed.” I have never forgotten it. I am not the best blogger, I actually have pretty poor English abilities. But, so what if it takes me a week to write a blog post, and week to get friends and family to edit it before I post it. Even after I publish it, one of my friends always texts me about a typo. And honestly, a lot of my blog posts are not as publicized and popular as I would like, but my English and editing skills are getting better. Blogging also helps me collect my thoughts and it is a time for me to relax. A lot of my blogs either come from areas of frustrations or areas of high excitement, either way my mind is normally racing with thoughts and ideas. I use this to calm them. I do not have many blog tips because I am very new at this but here are the things I have noticed get my blog more traffic:
- Collaboration blogs. Gathering quotes and thoughts from my community allows others to feel the need to share the blog.
- Photos! Some of my blogs lack in photography, but the ones that are full of photos usually get the highest traffic to them. I’m not sure why but it works.
The big debate right now is as students do we need a digital or printed portfolio. I feel like this is a losing argument when I try to do it alone. I think as students, we should have both. Unfortunately we live in the gray area. We are applying to both the older generation who believes and appreciates the work and effort of a printed portfolio and to the younger generation where everything is digital. As a student, you should be prepared for both. But I took this argument to my LinkedIn Community and this is what I received.
For a portfolio, whether you are service design, industrial design, user experience, marine design, fashion design, it does not matter. Employers want to see your story through the project. They want to know what you did in the project, where you failed and came back from it. They want to know what you learned from this project. To show these things, you want to show your hard skills, but be able to talk about your soft skills.
I was really frustrated last quarter because all of these students were saying that the portfolio class was a waste of time, and no one was telling you the equation to make a portfolio. But there is no equation! If there was an equation every single portfolio would look exactly the same. Find your style. Discover your story. Design your portfolio to say who you are through this project.
My resume is not perfect, but I worked very hard on my layout with an advertising professor and my professor to get mine where it is today. It is constantly changing, but at some point you have to accept it.
- Never have a typo! Spell Check 10000000 times!
- I personally do not like to have my phone number on my resume. If it gets thrown in the trash, and some weirdo gets a hold of it. I don’t know, I might be weird, but a company can email me to find out my phone number.
- Do not put your address, it makes you look like you are not willing to change locations
- Do not over exaggerate your abilities. I have asked a lot of people and it seems that for an undergraduate service designer to say they are a strategist is too cocky because we do not have strategy experience yet.
- Put your volunteering jobs in it!
- Add the clubs and conferences you go to if you need fillers
- Add scholarships and awards no matter if you think people do not know them. You never know who is reading your resume.
I am now on my second style of business card. I have learned a few things from both rounds and I am positive this is not my last round of business cards I will ever make.
- Keep it clean, do not add a lot of things that can look cluttered
- Make room for people to take notes
- Make it fit your style…it has to represent you
- I have my phone number on my business card. But this is the only piece of collateral that my phone number is placed on.
Random Other Thoughts
“Make sure at career fair that you’re exchanging cards not just giving them, take it upon yourself to add them first, if they’re a direct connection you can send them a LinkedIn message to thank them for looking at your portfolio and reference a talking point. It may take a few days for them to get back to you, so starting the conversation is a great way to get a jump start.” -Jenn D’Eugenio
It is hard for me to give advice because I am still figuring it out. It is also hard for me to stress that idea that you have to find your own way. These things I am doing work for me because of who I am. I am very shy and awkward in a room full of people, so tweeting and instagramming to break that barrier works for me. Some people, like my friend Helen, are more outgoing, and so they can go talk to anyone. They might not need social media to break the ice.
Gathering your materials to apply for jobs is an exercise of finding yourself. It took me a very long time, I started my portfolio a year before I took the class so I could go through many failures. Let me tell you, I failed a lot. My graphic design skills were horrible. I had portfolio reviews and I had people constantly telling me, “this portfolio does not show you. This portfolio shows me a sketcher and a modeler.” I learned a lot about what my skills were compared to what I thought they had to be or had to show. I was showing my projects as the “book” told me to..so to speak. I was showing the sketches, 3D Renders, and physical prototypes…all of which I did not enjoy or thrive at doing. It was not until I sat down and accepted that to be the person I want to be, I do not need flashy physical product design things, I need things that show me and my skills.
My suggestions above are not do or die. Take them with a grain of salt, but remember to continue to ask questions and get feedback on your portfolio by people who know who you are and with people who have no idea who you are. & do not get discouraged. This process is hard and long, and frankly, you will never be satisfied. If you have other suggestions, I would love to hear them!
Originally published at www.mpreiss.com.