Top tips on getting your first design job

It’s that time of the year again when graphic design students graduate and flood the market in search of their first job at a creative design agency or in-house marketing team.

Design Week estimate that around 15,000 students will be looking for work this summer with only 1 in 4 likely to be destined for ‘highly-skilled’ design jobs.¹ So, with this intense level of competition, how can you ensure you end up in that top 25%?

Here at Fluro, we’ve recently been out and about at schools and colleges in the local area, advising students thinking about a career in design. Here are our top tips designed to help you get a foot in the creative design agency door.

1. Be Creative.

Don’t wait until you get your first job to show how creative you are. Your CV and portfolio don’t need to be a plain old A4 pdf, so think of ways you can add impact. Not every agency will be looking to hire right now, but you need to make yourself memorable and keep yourself top of mind until they do. So how can you stand out from the crowd? Think of this as your first brief in the real world.

2. Do your homework.

When approaching an agency, look at their website, social media channels and find out everything you possibly can. Sometimes, agencies include quirky facts about their staff, such as personal likes and dislikes. If you find out the person you’re about to meet likes Krispy Kreme donuts, bring a box of them along to the interview. It shows you’re thinking and your thinking. Oh, and always, always, always send them an email to thank them for meeting you afterwards.

3. Get used to talking about your work.

You’re going to be asked all about the work in your portfolio during an interview. The more practice you get at this, the more professional and confident you’re likely to appear.

4. Be open to criticism and advice.

Seek out honest opinions of your work. (Don’t tell people your designs are good – let them tell you that.) If everyone you see is advising you that a campaign in your portfolio would work better done a different way, follow their advice. The more professionals you see, the more advice you’ll get and the better your portfolio is bound to get.

5. Do as many placements as you can.

Placements can be frustrating when what you really want is a proper job. But looking on the positive side, this kind of work experience means you’ll be working on real life projects which you can include in your ever-improving portfolio.

6. Be persistent.

Never give up. Find a way to develop an ongoing dialogue with the agencies you really want to work at. Follow them on social media, engage with their posts, try to establish a relationship with more than one member of the team. If your work doesn’t go down well at an agency, and sometimes it won’t, that doesn’t have to be the end of it. See it as an opportunity to quickly put things right and impress them with your responsiveness and willingness to learn. Go back the next day, if they’ll see you that quickly, having already responded to their comments. That level of keenness is hard to ignore.

7. Dress to impress.

Think carefully about what you are going to wear for your interview. You don’t need to go in black tie but you should make an effort to look smart.

8. Start with Fluro.

Come and see us when you’re ready to get your career up and running. Even if we don’t have a job for you, we’ll have plenty of good advice from people who used to be in exactly the same position as you.
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