Key takeaways from our session at San Francisco Design Week 2020 on how to find a design job and tips for getting hired.
The creative job market today looks vastly different to how it did in January: thousands of roles have been cancelled, many others transformed and internships have been paused while the professional world comes to terms with new ways of working. In response to this shift, Wunderdogs hosted a San Francisco Design Week virtual workshop for creatives wanting to learn how to navigate this new virtual job board reality.
The session was remarkably well attended with over 400 attendees, so we wanted to share some of the takeaways on hard and soft skills in the hope it will help others searching for jobs remotely.
Hard skills and Technical Tips to help you get noticed
- Keep your portfolio up to date at all times
Why is it important to keep your portfolio up-to-date, especially in times of uncertainty?
- The market is constantly changing: over 36M Americans filed new unemployment claims since March (and counting)*.
- An updated portfolio shows your care about your work.
- Without an up-to-date portfolio, you don’t know what opportunities you might be missing.
- Reviewing and analyzing your work will motivate you to continuously improve.
- Make it digital
With the digital revolution showing no signs of slowing we champion portfolio websites. Why? They’re easy to locate, share and navigate and quick to update. The best platforms are below: they’re easy-to-use, flexible and require zero coding experience (we use them ourselves).
Do not forget your portfolio needs to be adaptive! It MUST be mobile friendly (50.34% of users open websites using their phones in 2019, as opposed to 46.67% desktop)
- Make it You
The above platforms are mostly templatized, so seek out opportunities to create a unique experience and look and feel for your portfolio. Remember – you are a creative!!!
- Use an interesting and original layout.
- Avoid overused mock-ups and fonts.
- Study use-cases from big agencies as inspiration for your own.
- Demonstrate variety in your work and show you’re not limited to one aesthetic.
- Do not be afraid of white space. Use it liberally. It helps individual cases stand out.
Soft skills for performing your best in a remote interview and nailing your first months in a new role
- Stay tuned
New technologies mean the design world is constantly evolving. Make sure you’re in the know:
- Attend conferences and never stop learning (and be ready to talk about recent learning experiences)
- Read professional literature and online media.
- Say Yes to everything: volunteer, be curious, seek out opportunities to learn and participate.
- Maintain creative side projects: they’ll keep you sane.
- Share your process
Pay special attention to your creative process: how you display it and how you talk about it:
- Celebrate success: As a designer your work has brought tangible results to clients: did sales increase after a rebrand? Was your work shared online? Was it in the press? An ability to talk numbers is a big win for recruiters.
- Curation is key: portfolio reviews typically last 45mins -1hr; share no more than 2-3 projects.
- Less is more: regardless of project duration it should take no more than 5 minutes to read the case study. Recruiters interview over 100 designers per year, and review almost 1,000 portfolios. Making their life easier will not go unnoticed.
- P.S. If you are a newbie, it is totally fine to create your own cases.
- Be the firecracker you are
Reach out. Be direct. Ask for introductions.
- The creative space is competitive and being bold is key to success. If an interview didn’t go the way you’d hoped, ask the hiring manager for introductions to other companies that may be a better fit.
- Learn empathy: design roles are inherently empathetic, it’s one of the main traits recruiters look for. Remember this during interviews and in your first months in a new role.
- Be a Self Starter: show you can work independently. The ability to identify bottlenecks in your design process and solve them yourself is vital.
- Pick your poison
You choose the company as much as it chooses you. First, prioritize “design driven” businesses — they’ll understand your value better than most. Second, do not settle. Consider which companies and industries are the best fit for you, for example:
- B2B vs B2C: This is a matter of personal preference. B2C has a greater focus on UI and the organization’s brand. It’s great for those who want to work on something large, impactful and prominent, but is often less challenging design-wise than B2B. B2B may sound less fancy but often presents a more interesting and challenging environment that requires a research-driven approach to problem solving.
- Large organization vs Startup: As a rule of thumb junior designers looking to learn the design process will benefit more from working at a large company. If a startup is looking for a junior as their first and only designer that’s a red flag: it’s likely you won’t receive the support you need to succeed. Senior designers willing to apply their knowledge in practice can go after the startup wildcards.
- Love thy teammate
Design can sometimes be a lonely place, but your team are all working towards the same goal:
- Feedback is king: As part of a team you’ll have to deal with all kinds of feedback. Remember feedback is a matter of opinion and is meant to stimulate discussion, not cause offense. Cultivate a positive attitude towards team feedback and consider how to balance being agreeable with fighting for what you think is right.
- Credits: Always give credits to everyone who worked with you on a project.
6. You are enough!
A few words on impostor syndrome:
- Feeling like an impostor means you’re doing something new. You’re at the beginning of a learning curve. As you enter this new world always ask for help. It’s never considered embarrassing or shameful and you’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn.
- It’s easy to feel like you’re different from everyone in the room, but chances are you’re not the only one who feels like way. Trusting yourself through this journey gives you an unfair advantage. Embrace your unique POV.
P.S. When it comes to interviews don’t let silly mistakes ruin the big opportunity!
Although obvious and in some cases humorous these tips are the result of some of the less successful remote interviews we’ve conducted:
- Check your internet connectivity in advance
- Always use laptop or desktop (never a phone)
- Dress appropriately (no bikini tops please!)
- Join from a quiet and neat space (avoid cafes at all cost)
- Always turn on your video (your face is your ID, don’t be shy)
- Triple check time differences and never fail to show up (seriously.)