Applying to Your First Design Job? Here Are 5 Tips!

Nowadays, design is more important than ever. From graphic design and product design to UI and UX; new designers are innovating the industry every day. Are you a budding designer in the midst of a job search? Do you love design? Trying to land your first design job as a graphic designer, product designer, or design strategist? No matter what sector of the industry you’re entering, this post is for you. Here areĀ 5 tips to start your design career.

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Key Takeaways:

  • Curate and present your best creative projects on a well-designed portfolio site. 
  • Search for new opportunities to expand your hard and soft skills. 
  • Remember that your first design job, likely, won’t be your last. Apply for entry-level positions that align with goals and allow room for growth in the years to come. 

5 Tips to Help You Apply For Your First Job

1. Create a design portfolio to show off your work.

Design portfolios are extremely important, even for those with little industry experience. So, make sure you have one before you begin applying for jobs. Your portfolio can take the form of a well-designed pdf document or a website – which is more common nowadays, as most designers opt for portfolio sites to show off their skills. If you’re not sure where to begin, check out our other post for a few tips to get your design portfolio noticed by potential employers.

2. Include a cover letter with your resume.

Unfortunately, a great portfolio is not always enough. Sometimes, you need to go the extra mile to show off your unique personality to your potential employer. One way to do that is to include a cover letter with your well-designed resume and portfolio. While it may seem like common sense to some, many people overlook the power of a cover letter. However, it is a great way to give a concise synopsis of your professional experience, share details about your educational background, and express interest in a specific company. Cover letters don’t have to be lengthy or complicated. Just give a summary of what you bring to the table and don’t forget to include your contact info!

3. Hone soft skills in addition to technical skills.

It almost goes without saying that you have to have some sharp technical skills before applying for your first design job. However, it is important to hone your soft skills as well. Do a self-assessment to see how well you are at active listening, teamwork, collaboration, critical thinking, adaptability, time management, and other soft skills that make design jobs may be looking for. 

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4. Work on your personal brand.

First impressions are extremely important. So, as a designer, it is imperative that you develop and maintain a personal brand that exudes professionalism. After all, your reputation impacts how others view you. Show up to interviews with prospective employers on time, have a consistent design aesthetic for your portfolio site and resume and use high-quality images on job boards and other professional networking sites. And don’t forget to clean up your social media accounts as well – especially accounts where you’ve used your real name. 

5. Apply for jobs that suit your skills or align with your goals.

Landing a job can be a bit difficult, especially during times of economic uncertainty. But that doesn’t mean you should apply for every job position you come across! Be discerning when looking for employment, read the job description thoroughly, research the companies, contemplate potential design problems that could arise, and evaluate what level of financial stability you could achieve if you were to be hired.