What to do Before You Apply: Designers Edition

Designers don’t have the simple luxury of filling out an application, attaching a resume/cover letter and submitting a form. The nature of the field demands more.

During the middle of your third semester you see the perfect posting for an internship! Excitement and hopefulness fills you, then a flicker of doubt, because you realize you have nothing required for the application. If only someone gave you a heads up that from the beginning you should have been preparing, keeping projects organized, and working to design your resume, maybe you could have turned in that application on time.

So what should you have prepared even before you take a look at job/internship postings? Here’s your top three:

1. Have two, well, let’s call it three, versions of your resume

Before making two versions of your resume, compile a document with any and all relevant work experience, including awards, publishings, and larger one time projects you were involved in. Include any info that you might include on a final version of your resume, dates worked, supervisor name, job description, the whole nine yards.

Secondly, start exercising your skills and design a smart resume that will impress any creative director. Resumes can be embossed on cardboard, a brochure with perforated pages, or a playful graphic print on quality paper. Just search “designed resumes” on Pinterest for examples.

The last piece may be the most difficult, but requires your typography skills to be taken to the next level. Design a simple resume that one could even use to apply to an accounting job, yet clearly shows off your typesetting skills.

 2. Get your portfolio online

There is no excuse to not have online presence of your work, and most job applications will require a URL to an online portfolio.

Designers have used Weebly, Behance, Squarespace, WordPress and others to assist in building a website. Better yet, add a skill to your resume and code it yourself!

Be sure to include who you are and how someone can get in contact with you, your portfolio (obviously), and take it another step further by including case studies for some specific projects.

Case studies provide a look into your thought process, and can show off written communication skills as well. If sharing case studies on your portfolio, be sure to include the following:

  1. Multiple shots/angles of the final piece
  2. Client background info
  3. Project problem/challenges
  4. Client testimonials

Keep the site up to date by adding projects to portfolio as you complete them.

3. Brand yourself

You hear it all the time, “brand yourself.” Yet for designers, this isn’t just about your reputation, this is your look. Ensure that your newly designed resume (both versions), and whatever other collateral you have created, share the same elements and color. To maintain consistency, create a style guide that includes your logo, colors and elements you use throughout your personal brand.

Being prepared for job searching by having a complete resume, a live portfolio site and an overall brand gives you a step up from the competition. Next time you see the perfect posting, applying will be much easier, then you can focusing on nailing the interview.

Meg Dobinson | Harrisburg

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