Top 5 Job Application Tips for Graphic Designers

Earlier today as part of my regular job I was reviewing job applications for a Senior Graphic Designer position. While some of the applications were quite decent, there were so many bad ones that I gained a LOT of insight into what NOT to do when applying for a graphic design position. There were 20+ applications to sort through and I was surprised at how many made it so easy for me to eliminate them from the running. So to help prevent aspiring graphic designers out there from making these same mistakes, I thought I’d present my top 5 job application tips! All of these were based on actual employment applications I reviewed! Amazing!

1. Check your spelling.

Especially paragraphs where you write about how much experience you have at proofing things for print. I kid you not!

2. Don't set your resume in Arial.

Good designers should be aware of the message their typeface choices send. Arial is clean, modern and legible typeface, yes, but it’s also a weak default option. Choosing Arial just shows me how design-ignorant you are. Out of all the other great options there are out there, you chose a default font in Microsoft Word, and a much derided one at that.  (Exception: email applications: your choices are limited here.)

3. Leave out the fluffy stuff.

“I’m a forward-thinking success-motivated individual who seeks out dynamic interpersonal... blah blah blah…” NEXT.

4. Show me your work.

At least give me a link to some of your work online or include some portfolio pieces within a PDF. Your resume might read really well, but that doesn’t convince me you have a good eye for design. Oh, and if you do have a website portfolio showing your work, make sure the site isn’t completely broken.

5. Consider the content of your portfolio.

Don’t fill up your portfolio with weaker projects. It looks better to show 5 strong examples than 35 questionable ones. Where possible, explain your role in each project. Did you design that logo, or just put it on a red background and make it into a banner? Did you design and code your website from scratch, or apply your logo to a template? Thought processes and design rationales are excellent, just keep them concise.

And... maybe it’s best that you leave out that uni project you did for amphetamine product packaging. I’m sure it was really cool for your classmates, but now I can’t help but think you’re going to steal our laptops to pay for your meth.

Remember that this is all about convincing me that you’re effective at visual communication. The best thing you can do is imagine yourself in the place of the interviewer and consider all the messages your job application sends.

Okay, now go out there and land that design job!