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7 Tips for applying for your first design role …

I’ve recently been hiring for a number of Junior Designer roles, which is a change for me as often I am focused on Mid, Senior & Lead briefs!

It’s exciting stuff helping people secure what is often their first-ever role in the industry, however, I won’t lie… going through over 300 Junior applications over the last two weeks has been rather exhausting!

I thought I’d put together my tips on how to make the application process a success;

1. Provide all required information with your application

When applying for roles always send your CV as a file, even if you apply through LinkedIn, AND the details of your portfolio. Due to the huge volume of applications that are received for Junior level roles, there is not the time to chase up applicants for missing links or CV’s and you may get overlooked on this basis.

Typically I will send out an email requesting these details / files , but it improves the process for everyone if you are on the ball and send everything required. Some people may not do this, and you could be automatically rejected for failing to attach a file, especially if you are applying to a large company portal or the role has 100’s of applicants – many of whom will have sent the right info.

If you don’t have a portfolio, get one together – there are numerous free sites to help you build one. Tips from top studios here

Also:

  • Include your contact details – and make sure these are all up to date!
  • Ensure the link to your portfolio is hyperlinked
  • Make sure your CV is up to date with your current role and experience

2. If you are applying for a DESIGN role, tell me about your design experience

Even if you have only had a short internship or work placement within design – talk in detail about this on your CV. This is far more important than the lengthy detail of countless part-time jobs that aren’t relevant to the role you are applying for. I’d recommend making short points of the transferable skills you gained in other roles next to them on your CV.

If you have worked on interesting final projects at University or College that could be of interest talk about them in a short summaries as part of your education section.

3. Include your software skills

Your CV should detail the software you are familiar with, but I would recommend staying away from showing ‘bar charts’ regarding your skill level as they are often fairly unclear. Often I look at them and wonder what do these lines even mean!? A scale of ‘1-ninja’ helps nobody.

This one seems obvious but; ensure your Software skills match up to those on the role you are applying for. Sometimes clients have a specific software that you must be skilled in and this will be stated on the application. If you can use a tool it should be listed on your CV – if you can’t then maybe the role isn’t right. If in doubt get in touch.

4. CV’s are a chance to show off your design skill

Yes, I appreciate SOME systems only let you upload a Word Doc CV, but most designers create a one page PDF CV.

Your CV is often your first opportunity to show off your design skills, communicate your personal style and brand. Speaking to Vikesh Bhatt, Creative Director at Hi Mum! Said Dad – he informed me how he looks at CV’s and instantly gets a feel for layout, & typography skills so it is super important that you put thought and effort into this.

5. Use the job description as a checklist!

Read through the job spec and use it as a mental checklist – if you meet around 80% of the requirements the role could be a great fit.

Make sure to apply for roles at an appropriate level. On a daily basis, I receive applications for £60,000 a year Senior roles from Junior Designers – this is a waste of everyone’s time and unlikely to get you noticed in a positive way.

6. Get organised

Keep a spreadsheet detailing the date, role & perhaps include a link – with a column to state if you have heard back from the role. This helps to my the next point…

6. Don’t be afraid to follow up

Utilise the tools at your disposals such as LinkedIn 😉 and Google to find out who is hiring for the role if this information is not displayed on the advert. Don’t be afraid to shoot over a quick email following up on your application – not only does it show that you are interested in the role but can also increase your chance of getting potentially helpful feedback. Sometimes this has made me find an application that may have slipped through the net!

7. Ask for feedback

If you haven’t been having success with your applications, ask for help! Ask a friendly recruiter ( we don’t bite promise!) or designer friends for guidance on your CV and Portfolio.

There are also many events offering folio reviews and CV guidance for designers run by organisations like The Dots.

I hope this has been a helpful guide to applying for that first design role! I’m also always more than happy to talk through folios and CV’s so feel free to drop me a line at grace@zebrapeople.com

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