No one likes job hunting, no matter what stage of the game you are in. The reality is, working as a designer you are in an industry that has a lot of candidates and competition (who doesn’t want to do what we do?!) and its becoming increasingly difficult to secure full time work.
In my own experience, I’m seeing a lot of design and marketing agencies, typically the largest employers of graphic designers, moving away from full time staff and subsisting mostly on freelancers (more of my thoughts on that situation to come later.) Its also the unfortunate (and incorrect) case, that when times are tough, companies reduce resources in marketing and design first and foremost.
Unfortunately, what this means is that the designers of Australia are probably more fluid and likely to have a number of jobs in their lifetime, and that there are plenty of out of work designers at any given time, making for a more competitive field when job hunting. But never fear! As someone who has worked in house, in agencies, freelanced and worked on short term contracts, I have a lot of experience hunting for jobs, and I want to share that knowledge with you.
- Get on The Loop.
Promise this isn’t a paid plug, but if you’re in the design game you need to be on The Loop. This website has developed such a following in Australia, showcasing both designers and agencies you should know about and some of the best jobs in the industry. For the greatest concentration of design agency job ads (if that’s where you want to be working), get on The Loop. Create a profile, and update it with the same work as your portfolio (just export your .indd file to .jpeg), that way you can use it as an online portfolio as well as following agencies you would love to work for – The Loop will send you an email each time they post a job, and that gives you the best chance at getting your dream job.
- Other players in the game
Sites like B&T, Mumbrella and Campaign Brief aren’t just news hubs – they also house jobs. Creative recruitment agencies like Cr8 and Become often list their jobs on here first, and sometimes exclusively, so it pays to check them out. Pedestrian.tv has a lot of jobs listed, but they are more relevant if you’re looking for an internship or entry level position, and often these jobs will be listed on other sites too. Really, none of these sites should be major refreshers for your job hunt, but its good to look at the whole field.
- Seek – its in the name.
Seek still dominates the job hunting market in Australia, from marketing and design right the way through to technical sales. If you are looking for an in house job, this is the place to be, but a lot of agencies, particularly the smaller and more boutique ones, are also listing their job vacancies here. You can set up a series of alerts, but they are often a few days behind live posting – so if you’re serious about your job hunting, get to refreshing the page.
- Don’t forget the power of LinkedIn.
No matter what stage of the game you are in, if you’re in a full time job, get a LinkedIn profile. Its completely free, and you would be surprised who knows who. That annoying uncle of yours might just know the head guy at your favourite company, and might be able to introduce you. LinkedIn is free, although there is an option to go Premium, and it will even suggest jobs for you based on your profile. Particularly for big, blue chip companies and smaller, diverse agencies, LinkedIn is a great place to showcase what you can do online.
- Recruiters… Love them or hate them, its still an obsession.
Lady Sovereign references aside, applying for jobs through recruiters can often feel like a giant waste of time. Its yet another interview that you have to sit through, you often don’t get calls back and the job you apply for with the recruiter might be quite different by the time you get to the desk. HOWEVER. The biggest and best opportunities I’ve ever been put forward for have been through recruiters, and sometimes they have really great insight into problems or great things about your portfolio of work. Go figure. My theory is, chase down every lead, but make sure that if you’re traipsing all the way into the city that you double down on interviews that day – don’t waste your train fare. Side Note: Australians, be prepared for every recruiter you meet to be from the UK. I’ve been told (because I’m nosy and I asked) that its because it’s a job Aussies don’t want to do, and its an easy way to get a working Visa. The more you know!
- The lost art of the Cold Call… Or Cold Email.
Seriously, some of the best success I’ve had in getting new work, whether its freelance spots, full time jobs or just really great contacts, is through the cold email. Find agencies who’s work you love, and shoot them an email. Write a killer cover letter, have your portfolio in tip top shape and tell these big guns why it is you would love to work for them. No one is ever going to get snarky about an expression of interest, and really – what do you have to loose? Sometimes (and its happened to me), you will just stumble in on an agency right when they were thinking about hiring someone anyway. And it might just be your big break.
So that’s where you should or could be hunting for your next job as a designer. The most important part of any job search is to keep your head up – don’t loose heart just because it doesn’t work out straight away. Whether you’re looking for the next step up, a new challenge or a start on your career path, you’ve absolutely got to have confidence in what you do. While you’re searching for a job, keep busy and keep the cash flow going by freelancing, taking on odd jobs, taking the time to redevelop your online portfolio or do some internships with companies you really love.
Keep working, learn more, keep your skills up to date and keep that portfolio fresh. In no time at all you will be living in the 9-? grind of design life and wishing for the days when you were job hunting in your pyjamas again.
I would love to know what you think of my tips here – of course I can only talk about my own experience, so please let me know if I’ve missed anything! Especially if you had something completely out of the blue help you in your job hunting battle! You can get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or email.