Every time here at Tann Westlake we advertise a position for a web designer, be it junior or senior, we get flooded with applications. In fact over 100 for our last opening! We would love to say that each and every one of them were compelling and engaging but the truth is that only a small percentage of them were.

The ones that were, were quite amazing, and surprise surprise really stood out from the crowd. Now as a small design agency, we don’t have a team of HR executives trawling through the CV’s looking for the best designer candidates, we only have a short space of time to review each application. This is why you really need to make a big impact right from the minute your CV lands in the inbox of the agency or organization that you are applying to.

So how do you do this? Well the answer is not a simple one. There are many many things you need to do to make your application to be a designer sing from the rooftops. As we all know design is subjective, so the last thing you want to do is over design your CV and portfolio. However, that said it does need to be considered and show your creative ability, your experience and your professionalism. In today’s job market it’s a cut throat business with bundles of competition all fighting for just a few design jobs.

We have put together a list of ten essential things you should do when applying for a job as a web designer, graphic designer or art director.
  1. Name your CV clearly with your name: ‘Your Name CV.pdf’ You would be surprised at how many variants we get, and the volume that they come in at, we don’t want to be re-naming lots of files. Make it simple for us and you get noticed. Also, make sure any sub-names are removed. It’s prudent to tailor our CV for each role you apply for, to highlight your strengths and experience matched to the designer position. However, make sure you don’t send the wrong file, to the wrong design agency.
  2. Always use a professional email address. NOT ‘beachbumbrad@hotmail.com’ for example. Sounds obvious doesn’t it?! Well you would think so, but we so often see this. If this is your first job straight out of design school or you have just completed your design degree, you may still be using your email address that was cool and funny when you were at school. This is where is stops being cool or funny and becomes a massive negative. We have all heard about how prospective employers can tell a lot about candidates from looking at their Twitter and Facebook pages. Well they can also tell a lot about you by your email address too. Simple advice; Set up and professional email address. If your names is gone of course be inventive, but be inventive professionally. Consider adding ‘designer’ or creative’ after your name. Setting up a FREE Gmail account takes just a few minutes and could be the best time investment you ever made.
  3. Write a professional and considered email explaining why you feel you are right for the position you are applying for. Bullet point your experience or if you have none, your design course or degree. Keep it precise and easy to read. Make sure you check it for spelling mistakes or even get someone else to check it for spelling mistakes. Designers must be able to spell as well and design!
  4. Provide a link to a strong, well thought out portfolio or a live link within your CV to an online portfolio. If you don’t have a website or blog that showcases your work, always provide a PDF portfolio, even if it is a snap shot of your best pieces of work. We need to see your design talent and your ability to present your work, as you spend a lot of your future career presenting work or preparing design work for a presentation. There are plenty of FREE online blogs and websites that are specifically for designers to showcase your portfolio. We recommend WordPress as a great platform for you to use. Graph Paper WordPress Themes is a brilliant site with some FREE templates that will be perfect for any print or web designer.
  5. Do Not paste your CV into the body of an email.
  6. Supply a PDF not a Word Doc of your designer CV. That way you can control the layout, fonts, colours and styles. Recruitment agencies will want a word doc. They need this because they just delete your address and forward on your CV to prospective. We don’t need to do that. We want your contact info!
  7. Be innovative. Show how creative you are in your CV. (You’re applying for a design role, not to become an accountant.) We have seen a whole variety of CV’s all with different approaches. Show talent and creativity but don’t miss the point of what it is. It’s a CV. A Curriculum Vitae or Resume if you like. We need your contact info, qualifications, experience and we want to know a little bit about you. Don’t let your design get in the way of this. Most importantly. Be original and think differently. One of the best CV’s we had showed a graph of their software experience. I was easy to understand and looked great!
  8. Make your email your covering letter. Not a separate Word Doc. The only attachments on your email should be your CV and PDF portfolio. (If you don’t have an online portfolio).
  9. Make sure you know what you applying for. Don’t apply for a job 500 miles away from you unless you are prepared to re-locate. If you are, make this clear in your application.
  10. Brand yourself! Buy, download and read this book: http://rockablepress.com/books/the-freelance-business-funnel It will give you a really great resource on how to brand yourself.

Do you think you have ticked off all the items on this list and have a CV and portfolio to catch our eye? Then why not apply for our latest roles available. Contact us to see if we are hiring right now!

Author: Simon Tann

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