Represent are a free recruitment agency and carers service for professionals in the design industry. Two representatives from the company came in to speak to us about our careers after graduation as part of our professional practice lecturers. This was a particularly interesting lecture as it was the first professional practice lecture where a practitioner was not simply talking about their work, instead we were being given information that is tailored specifically for our own careers. The information they provided advised us on career paths as well as the best way to get noticed by employers through CVs, portfolios, online presence and getting into contact with studios.
Before sending a CV and portfolio to a studio it is best to tailor them both towards who you are applying for. Within a CV the tone of voice used in the wording can be tailored to the personality of the studios and their influences, this can also be applied to portfolios as you can tailor the work you present to work similar to their own so that they know you would fit in well at that studio.
Also make sure to keep your application simple, don’t over design the CV. Make sure that the CV is short and simple, this can easily be done by removing any words which you would not use normally or don’t understand, as well as removing irrelevant information like interests which are not relevant to the job you are applying for. A good way to make sure your CV represents you is to read it out loud, if at any point you cringe at the wording change or remove the wording. It is also important to avoid using cliches such as “I am a good team player”, these phrases are often over used and therefore lack genuine meaning.
At the top of the CV the first thing is should communicate is “who are you now?”. A CV should constantly be updated and a small personal statement at the top of the CV should always convey who you are at that point in time, e.g. “I am a graduate from …”.
Getting in Contact
When contacting a studio highlight work by them that you enjoy or find other interesting ways to start a conversation with them such as by sending an interesting article you think they would enjoy and you could discuss with them. Also ask for a meeting to further discuss this conversation and so that you can some them some of your work, this is a much more relaxed than asking for an interview and they will be more open to sparing a few minutes to have an informal chat with you than they would be to offering an informal interview. In the e-mail you send they will normally open the e-mail, then open the attachments (CV and digital portfolio) and then rea the email body, so keep it simple as all the information they will need to know about you will be contained in the attachments.
It can be handy to keep a spreadsheet of all of the studios you have got into contact with. Keep a record of when you first got in touch with that studio and make sure to mark off any follow up correspondence as well.
When organising your portfolio make sure to put your 2nd best piece of work at the front and your best piece of work at the end. It is also important to tailor your portfolio to the studio you are applying for, so make sure to include work that would like to see relevant to them and the role you wish to get. Furthermore your portfolio shouldn’t be distilled, for example 3 pages with loads of small images on them, when you first graduate it will be more effective to send out your full portfolio as you won’t have a few key pieces of professional work to show. The images included should be large images, sometimes even full bleed, accompanied by information on the project. Text should be included as a divided page before a project, and should state the project title, brief, who you worked with, technical information, and a brief explanation of how you came to that solution. Including text is more relevant when sending out digital portfolios as you won’t be present to discuss the work, however small text prompts can be included in a physical portfolio to act as an aid when discussing your work in person. Digital portfolios should not be information heavy however, and they should aim to be under 10mb (although ideally not that big).
PDFs vs Websites
For a portfolio it is often better to submit a PDF to the studio instead of a link to your website, this is because you can curate a PDF specifically towards the audience and you can tailor how they navigate through out the work. Where as a website is unpredictable and they could easily miss key pieces of work, or see weaker pieces before the stronger pieces and lose interest. A website should be used as a brief introduction to who you are and as a way of contacting you, not as your digital portfolio.
During the interview lead the presentation, which should normally be around 15 to 20 minutes. Open confidently, such as by saying “can I show you some projects?”. In the interview you should aim to show how you think and how well you can articulate your ideas.
The 5 second rule applies to interviews, when you meet someone you make a snap decision about them within the first 5 seconds. Therefore it is important to make sure you present yourself well, e.g. body language, smell, sweating, and how well your clothes are put together. Furthermore having a firm handshake and being an active listen during the interview helps to positively add to your impression.
The day after an interview it is best to send them an email thanking them for their time, this will help to keep your fresh in their minds and may give them a more positive impression of you.
After graduating from university the best way to get a head start in your career is through internships. You should ideally intern for 6 months to 1 year in order to build up a strong portfolio, learn new skills and try out different areas of design to find which is best suited to you.