Ten tips to stand out

I recently successfully filled a junior position here at Traina Design, and I came away from the interviewing experience with a few tips I’d like share with designers who are in search for the perfect (or first) job. In most cases, your work will speak for itself, but there are definitely a few things you can do to help stand out from the crowd. Here’s my top ten list:

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  • 1 Make an effort to have others review your portfolio: Whether you're fresh out of school or have been in the workforce for a bit, the more input you get from working professionals or potential employers the better. Refine your student work, and make sure everything in your book is represented in the best possible way. Never stop improving.

  • 2 Ask and listen for feedback: Every firm has something they are looking for, and often it varies from person to person. While you may not be a perfect fit for a given position within a certain firm, it's always a good idea to get their feedback and see how you might improve your work or your presentation.

  • 3 Edit: Remember your book is there to showcase your BEST work, not all your work. Keep it short, efficient, and put your best stuff up front. If you have to apologize for anything, you should take it out.

  • 4 Research the company you are interviewing with: This is a common mistake I see with young talent. They have the book, they present well, but unfortunately they have no idea the kind of work we do, who our clients are or what is going to be asked of them. A few well-timed interview comments showing that you've made the extra effort is a big tip that you're hungry and want the job.

  • 5 Be prepared with a couple questions: In most cases, you'll be asked if you have any questions about the position. Be prepared. Ask about the clients, a specific project, the office coffee situation, anything, just ask.

  • 6 Keep in contact: Most job opportunities come through personal referrals, this is especially true in creative fields. So stay in touch with your fellow students, professors and colleagues - you'll hear about job openings first and your book will get a look ahead of the competition.

  • 7 Intern if you can, take a truly entry level job if you can't: My first job out of school was at a small copy shop in downtown San Francisco. It wasn't sexy, but I learned how to set-up files for print, produce files more efficiently and even run film for separations (yes film, look it up). Any position will provide an opportunity to learn about working with clients, meeting deadlines, or at the very least, inform you about what you don't want to do.

  • 8 Build a simple/modern portfolio site - or use site builder like Behance: Seems like this should be an easy one, but there are so many candidates who are immediately discarded due to a poor portfolio site. Sites that load slowly, have small or poor quality images, or don't function properly are an immediate red flag. Speaking as an interviewer, we only want to read a little about you and see your best work, so keep it simple.

  • 9 Design your resume: This is another common missed opportunity. If you are coming in for an interview, a handsome resume makes for a great leave behind.

  • 10 Be Yourself: Provide an authentic portrait of your candidacy and the value you can bring to the position. This will, without a doubt, lead you one step closer to securing your perfect position.


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