Okay, let’s not beat about the bush here, graphic design jobs are hard to find. As graphic designers ourselves, we know. There are many, many people out there doing graphic design courses and consequently looking for graphic design apprenticeships or jobs at the end of them.
So where do you start? What should you do to get that all important graphic design job?
First: decide which area of graphic design you would like to study or learn. Graphics covers quite a wide spectrum of design. You could be a brilliant in typography, an aspiring illustrator, or a whiz with great brochure layouts. You need to decide what your strengths are and what you like doing creatively. And be honest. It’s pointless going into illustration if you are not that great at drawing. Likewise if you love ornate illustrations and are good at doing them it is pointless going into clean corporate brochures. So decide what you want to progress and stick to that.
Second: make sure you have a good CV and that it represents your talents. Make it creative. You are selling creativity so don’t just type something in Word, create something that looks well designed and sells what your skills are. If your talents cover typography show this in your CV. Use it to showcase your skills. But remember the key purpose of graphic design – to communicate messages. Don’t overdo it – get across your information in an interesting way but make it easy to read.
Third: your portfolio. Put together your portfolio and include your best work that shows off your creative talent. Only use your strongest designs – leave out the weak ones. Use any work that showcases layout skills, typography, colour, brand design, illustration. The idea is to quite easily identify what you are good at. Presenting ideas to people is a fundamental part of what graphic designers do so you need to do this part well. Have your work set out in a logical format with a brief description, if necessary, of what it is and how you arrived at it. It is useful to understand what your thought process was in arriving at the creative direction you have chosen.
Fourth: interview. Presentation is all about impression. You want to create the right impression from the start so dress accordingly. Don’t get me wrong: if your creative work is amazing it won’t matter what you look like. In most cases though it would be better to be safe than sorry and this means erring on the side of ‘reasonably presentable’. Make your interviewer aware that you are taking the interview seriously and actually care about getting the job. So dress reasonably smart and make your presentation count.
Do’s and Don’ts
Do be clear as to what you are looking for regarding work and explain what you like to do and what your strengths are.
Do listen carefully to what is asked. You will be nervous and that’s fine and understandable but speak slowly and clearly and enthuse about your work.
Don’t bring work that is classic student creativity. Concepts are very nice to work on but have limited use in the commercial world. We don’t want to see lots of broken and disjointed type on angles, this has been done since the 1980s and is now tiresome. Graphic design is used to communicate so have work that shows how you are getting a message across. Pick a product and create a visual that shows how you are getting the message across about that product. Have reasons for what you have done so you can explain your thoughts and rationale behind your thinking.
Don’t make stuff up. You will be talking to experienced graphic designers who have seen many types of work and presented to a multitude of different people. They will not want to hear some convoluted story over some image use or typeface selection, unless it has specific relevance to your concept. No bullshit please!
So, if you are looking for a graphic design apprenticeship, or graphic design job, make your work fit with what you want to do and be prepared to talk about it and discuss your rationale. And dress appropriately for any interview. Good luck!