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Have you ever thought that the reason behind you not getting any design jobs is not the amount of skills you have, but the résumé you send to companies? Think that when companies post job openings hundreds of applications come in day by day and the HR manager needs to sort the bad ones out first. What if your résumé, even if you are a great designer, fails to make the second round?
The goal of the companies is to determine if you really are the person on your résumé, and they do this by first looking at your basic skills. Most of the hiring staff only want to contact applicants on the phone, because this is easier for them and more effective, so they will try to get you on the phone soon after your CV passes the initial basic requirements.
They also look at how dynamic a person is and try and determine a bit about their personality – previously working in groups is an advantage, as graphic and web designers have to do this every day at their jobs. If your personality and the basic skills get the OK, then the HR manager will probably ask technical employees more about your coding skills. Although it is a very quick process, it all starts with your résumé and if the one you submit is not good enough, you will never get a phone or direct interview.
I do not mean your home address – this is something you should have in your CV anyway. I’m talking about your portfolio. If I want to hire somebody, I definitely do not want to spend time searching for him on Google. I am not hired to do this, if you are not smart enough to provide it yourself, your CV goes to the shredder. List your web page in the header of your résumé, so it is the first thing the hiring staff notices.
Keep in mind you also need to show your work. If you say you are good in HTML5, the company needs to be able to be convinced before you will be called for an interview.
An important asset of a job candidate in the design field is to be in touch. It is important to use websites for inspiration, to follow other fellow designers on Twitter and exchange opinions with developers. Many companies ask during the interview who you follow in the design industry, either on Twitter, Dribble, Facebook or other media. I am not saying you should prepare an answer only for the sake of it, I am saying you should actually follow people in the industry.
Another question you might get asked is what did you do in the last year to become a better designer. This is a key one because it will show your potential employer you are really interested in what you do and are passionate about it. Moreover, it will show you continuously work to improve yourself and this is something managers like to hear. You can take different courses on the internet or pay for subscriptions on Lynda.com. Code School and A Book Apart are some other great resources you can use.
Image by Lifetracks volunteer group.
Your résumé should show that you are interested and look to grow as a designer or developer. You should be able to adapt to new techniques and show that you always have a hand on what is new in the industry.
When applying for a graphic designer job, knowing ASP.net doesn’t help too much. It is an advantage, but it is not what you will be evaluated on. It is a good idea to write a personalized cover letter for each job you apply for; make sure it is unique and reflects why you wish to work for that company in that specific opening. Although you think they will not, I assure you HR managers notice when people send mass e-mails, so as said before, avoid doing it. You can create a good, strong impression if you write a unique e-mail to each job posting – as a matter of fact, as all of them are different, it would be stupid to send the same application to all of them.
How do you expect to get a job if you have no experience in the field you apply for? I am sure there are job openings for inexperienced people, but they do not mean newbies. If the work you did before is not something you are entirely proud of, you can always create your own project. Use your skills to create a template and sell it on ThemeForest or any other similar website. Do you have a lot of client work that doesn’t show your creativity? It’s never impossible to make something on your own – a hiring manager will appreciate the fact that you design in your free time as well. If you think your portfolio can be improved, do it before sending out your résumé.
Image by Susanne13.
When you send out a CV for an engineer job, it can be a basic word format with no template. But when you apply for a design job, why not put your creativity skills to work and make a great template for your résumé? If you are able to design a stunning template for your CVs, this will scream creativity, care and attention to details and will move you to the top of the list right away. If you don’t have time for this, use a digital tool such as Zerply. The templates they offer look great and the portfolios uploaded there are very easy to maintain. Another tip is to send PDFs instead of Word documents and sending out your whole website (if it works as a classic résumé) can be effective as well.
These were only a few basic tips to improve your CV. Remember that while there is no direct contact between you and the company, the résumé is the only piece of work that will bind the two of you. It is always worth spending two hours on building a stunning CV than using two hours for sending out default templated résumé.
Keep in mind you need to show creativity and willingness to improve and your résumé will pass into the second round. Now if you are a good designer and have the necessary skills, you will pass through the third round and will be able to meet the hiring manager in person. But tips for a face-to-face interview another time…
Until next time, let’s stir up a discussion here. Do you have some other tips to give all of us for improving our CV?
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Christian Vasile is an enthuziastic Romanian web designer currently living in Denmark. He is passionate for the industry and writes about design, usability, coding and freelancing and is a regular publisher here at 1WD. You can follow him on Twitter at @christianvasile or visit his web portfolio by clicking on the link above.
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