10 years in recruitment—10 years! I am Jared Tredly and have been recruiting designers for a decade now, across Australia and the last couple of years here in the US. I’m based in NYC and focus the bulk of my efforts locally here in the NYC design community—which is one of the biggest and best design communities in the world! I’ve worked with every level of designer from new graduates to VPs and Heads of massive global design teams. I’ve also been fortunate enough to recruit right across the design spectrum—from branding, art direction and digital design through to UI, UX and product design. Although there are big differences in these design fields—there are many commonalities in how to go about getting a foot in the door.
Right now, more than ever amid the current COVID19 landscape, there is a lot of “noise” in the design market. That means there are a lot of designers looking for work right now, a lot of people applying to design jobs and many designers with years of commercial experience applying to lower-level jobs just to keep busy. That can make it seem more difficult and more challenging to get a job as a recent graduate—but I’m here to say it’s no more challenging than usual—you just have to be smart and pragmatic about how you get yourself out there!
Whilst I certainly know applying to jobs listed on platforms like LinkedIn seems like the most obvious way to go about getting a job, it can have a challenging success rate. You’re throwing your work into an imaginary pile of sometimes 400+ other CVs and folios, hoping the person on the other end somehow notices your work—not always a big guarantee of success.
So how can you be smart with the energy you put into the search and increase your chances of getting the right look in? Here are some ideas:
We’ve seen the world shift to virtual meetups, webinars, Zinner’s (Zoom Dinners!), LinkedIn has daily content—there’s plenty of networking still happening, just virtually. Stay involved with your design community—log in to the webinars, take note of who else is “attending”. Just like in real life, follow up after the event—connect with fellow attendees on LinkedIn, send a message to the panellists and organisers thanking them for the event.
You’re building your network, contributing to your community and, as a by-product, you’re getting on the radar of design leaders who may not have known you before!
Where does your beautiful amazing design work live? On your hard drive? On a website? Who’s seeing it? What eyeballs have access to it?
After your great run of adding new connections on LinkedIn post-virtual networking—think about dripping your work out in a series of LinkedIn posts. Was there something relevant in the webinar that related to some of the work that you could share and tag people in on?
Draw attention to your work positively, get the right eyeballs on it (without pestering people) and start placing yourself as a designer in front of mind to other designers in the community.
The goal here is to take a more indirect approach to the job search; you’re displaying your beautiful work, you’re conveying your positive attitude, you’re demonstrating your commitment to community culture so that the minute one of those design leaders is looking for a designer…they’re going to think of you first!
You have amazing examples of all that gruelling course work you’ve completed, you have a beautiful portfolio website you’ve put together—but how do you get people to go look at? Where could your audience of designers exist? Think about duplicating those pieces of work you have across other platforms like Dribbble, Behance and/or Instagram.
You’re getting your work seen—driving traffic to your site and increasing your chances of having the right people see your work to then reach out about hiring you.
Once you’ve graduated and have a body of work, that’s not necessarily the end of you having to design and add to the folio. Continue to work on your craft, keep adding your best work to your folio. Are there relevant posters you could mock up reflecting the current state of the world? Could you mock up a website for an imaginary app/product solving the world’s problems? Keep designing and keep adding, especially what might be relevant work—it could go viral, get seen by an advertising agency and next thing they’re asking you if you’re available to work on their project!
As you keep designing weekly, adding new ideas and pieces of work to your folio—you might look back at some of your earliest work and think “that doesn’t really showcase my abilities as a designer anymore”. If that’s the case, might be time to “archive” it on the folio.
Let your best work do the talking for you and don’t let the viewer get distracted by dated older work of yours—keep your best foot forward.
These are interesting times right now—we’re going to see a massive shift in certain advertising and the way we all interact with each other. People are spending more time online, content was and is only going to continue to rule. Put your work and yourself out there authentically. Be yourself and create content the way you want to. This authenticity will shine through and ultimately it’ll attract the types of people, brands and companies you want to work with. If content isn’t “your thing” that’s ok, but think about how you can find a way to be seen and heard in your own way.
Combine these tips, find your way to utilise these approaches in your own style. It’s hard work, it’s not always easy but it’s worth it! For the love of the craft and the love of design—it’s always going to be needed—already this week we can all feel NYC settling into its new norm. We’re adjusting to how things are now and companies are already starting to pop their heads back up and start looking forward again to how they’ll grow and adjust to the new landscape—with that will always come the need for designers, always!
That’s just a few tips from me for other ways to get yourself out there and get your kickstart into a design career in the new 2020!
Jared Tredly is an Associate Director of Design at recruiting agency, Salt. He’s been working with top creative talent worldwide, helping to build design teams globally.
Huge thanks to Jared for sharing his expertise for designers and coming on board as a guest author! These insights are so valuable for our Shillington design students starting out in their job search. Follow his YouTube series The Designer Diaries. And if you’re looking for a creative role, be sure to check out the open positions on the jobs board at Salt.
Header image design by #ShilloNY teacher Jimmy Muldoon.