It’s a good time to be a graphic designer. The demand for designers has never been higher, nor has design been more important for business success.
In fact, research shows that companies that have a strong design culture outperform the S&P 500 by over 200%. As more and more companies follow the lead of Apple, Nike, and the thousands of disruptive startups, you can expect this demand to go even higher.
But while demand is up, so is the competition to get a graphic design job. More and more people are graduating from college with design degrees. And with the proliferation of online courses, the number of people who have strong skills is also higher.
How do you stand out against this competition? What can you do make your resumes pop and land the graphic design job you’ve always wanted? We’ll share some answers in this post.
- Grow your network
The design field work relies heavily on referrals. The skills are so hard to determine that companies will often ask their existing designers to send them leads. As with so many professions, the old adage rings true here as well: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
As a designer, you have access to a number of communities where you can network with other designers. Websites like DesignerNews.co, Reddit’s /r/Design and /r/Graphic_Design subreddits, StackExchange’s design section, etc. are great for meeting other designers.
Your networking efforts on these platforms should focus on helping others. Find out if people are struggling with their current projects or with learning a new skill. Offer your help. The more people you can touch with your generosity, the wider your network.
To grow your network exponentially, focus on educating others as well. Write on your own blog and guest post on popular publications. Create tutorials, how-to’s, and videos where you help others learn key graphic design skills. This will allow you to reach people at scale and grow your network, while also building recognition for your personal brand.
- Throw out the traditional resume
The traditional paper resume does a horrible job of conveying your skills and experience. It can only tell potential employers where you’ve worked and studied. It can’t tell them what you’re capable of.
Moreover, the traditional resume doesn’t give you room to do what you’re supposed to do: be creative. The black-white 12-point Times New Roman font is antithetical to how a designer would go about creating a resume. Walking into an interview with such a resume won’t help you stand out from the crowd.
Showing proficiency at the various aspects of a graphic design job is essential to proving that you know what you’re doing. For instance, showing aptitude and familiarity with the best Photoshop color wheel and including different types of designs in your portfolio is a good way to make your resume stand out.
In place of this traditional resume, create a job “toolkit”. This should include:
- A portfolio of your best work
- A visual resume created in your own personal style
- A gallery or portfolio of your awards and publication recognition
- A list of platforms where you’ve been published in or testimonials from clients
Your goal is to offer employers a complete picture of who you are and what you’re capable of. The resume can capture only part of this. The rest will show up in your portfolio and public work.
- Tap all avenues
One of the biggest mistakes you can make with your graphic design job hunt is to limit your search to traditional job portals like Monster and Indeed. While these platforms certainly have a range of jobs, they do a poor job of helping you stand out. After all, if you know about them, so do all other designers.
The antidote to this problem is to expand your focus beyond these traditional job portals. Include the following in your job search:
- Recruitment agencies that specialize in hiring for creative roles
- Niche job boards such as Workamajobs that focus on hiring for creative agencies
- Sector-specific job boards such as AngelList (startups)
- Job boards that cater to specific job types such as WeWorkRemotely (for remote jobs)
- Hiring threads on Reddit’s r/Design and HackerNews communities
By increasing your focus, you will find it much easier to find those little-advertised jobs that Monster and Indeed don’t have. The competition for these jobs is usually lower, thus increasing your chances of landing the graphic design job you’ve always wanted.
Over to you
The graphic design profession has a remarkably positive job outlook in the coming decades. As more and more businesses embrace “design thinking”, the demand for your skills will continue to grow. The only thing you need to know is how to promote yourself. Follow the tips I’ve shared above and you will land your dream job in no time.