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6 Tips to Help You Get Hired Out of Design School

What do you need to do to land a job out of design school?

Graduation is an enormous accomplishment for design students across the board. It’s a day where all your hard work, sleepless nights, weekends spent in the library, and excessive caffeine consumption are celebrated alongside family, fellow classmates, and friends.

It’s also the day you realize the real world is waiting for you right around the corner, and you’ve got to find a job.

While some programs teach students how to get hired out of design school, others seem to leave that out of the curriculum.

Read on to learn the six things you can do to increase your chances of landing a job after graduation.

1. Put Effort in Your Applications

Filling out job applications is not exactly at the top of the list of ‘Most Exciting Things to Do.’ But, as we’re sure you know, it ranks high on your priorities.

Applying for jobs requires intentional energy and effort. We recommend choosing where you apply carefully, rather than fill out 20 applications daily.

Start by picking out, say, 10 companies you could see yourself working for. Then, do a little investigating. Find out who founded the company, what their current challenges look like, what services/products they offer, and who their competitors are.

Use this information to gauge whether or not you’d be a good fit. Are your skills a match for the company's efforts?

Show your interest in them by following them on social media and building a relationship with them. That way when graduation rolls around, a relationship with your potential employer is already established.

We don’t recommend asking for jobs via direct message (DM) or even email. Relationships are not built on what you can get out of another person. Focus on setting the foundation first.

Be yourself, be genuine, and show the potential employer that you want to build a relationship.

2. Get Uncomfortable, and Network

Networking, while intimidating, is absolutely necessary—especially if you want to try to secure a job out of design school.

The friendships and connections you make with other creative individuals are vital, even more so after graduation. It’s important to keep these connections going and continuously expand your network.

One of the best ways to start getting your name out there is to attend design meetups and networking events.

Now, we know what you’re thinking: “I’m not a designer yet!”But if you’re in design school, guess what? You’re a designer.

Don’t wait to “be” something to attend meetups and events. Just through networking alone, you learn from other designers of all experience levels, make important connections, and start to build a reputation as a designer.

And hey, you never know which conversation could be the one to kick off your design career.

Get uncomfortable, and go network.

3. Work Towards Your Dream Job

We’re just guessing here, but you probably have your sights set on landing your dream job. But here’s the thing: you probably won’t land it right out of school. It could happen in the near or distant future, but if it doesn’t happen right out of school, don’t get discouraged.

Your first job doesn’t have to be at a big-name, globally-renowned agency. Because no matter what your first design job looks like, we guarantee you will learn something from it.

Whether at your desk, through an online course, or even on YouTube, you can learn anything anywhere, and improve your skills with each passing day.

Plus, you can keep your eyes open for other opportunities, and continue to send out applications.

Your dream job is out there, and if you want it, you have to work for it.

4. Move With the Market

The world has never been so connected quite like it is today. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can work wherever they want. Companies are more open to and accepting of remote work than ever before.

With that in mind, if the city you currently live in isn’t exactly bursting with design opportunities, find them elsewhere. Don’t limit your job opportunities to your postal code. Instead, go where the market is.

The market could be hot in the United States, the UK, Germany, Spain, Japan—anywhere. Keep your eyes on its movement and make yourself available to opportunities that pop up there.

Start to think about job opportunities on a global scale, not only local.

5. Build Your Website

Every recruiter, hiring manager, or potential employer is going to ask to see your website. So it’s pretty important to make sure you have one that’s up-to-date and includes relevant samples of work.

We suggest you register your domain with your full name, if possible. If you have a long name or one that’s difficult to spell, try modifying or shortening it in a way that’s memorable and easy to type.

Your website doesn’t have to be hyper-complex; in fact, it’s better to keep it simple. We recommend you design your website in a way that’s familiar and simple to navigate.

Anyone looking at your website is only going to spend a few minutes on it. So it’s critical you clearly say what you want to be hired for on your site.

You can’t expect a recruiter or hiring manager to look through each piece of your portfolio and figure out what you want to do. You have to tell them.

Be as specific as you can, and show only the pieces of work that back up what you’re saying.

6. Nail the Interview

Interviews are understandably nerve-wracking. You definitely don’t want all the hard work and preparation you’ve done to crumble the second you start talking.

The secret to nailing your job interview is to not focus on yourself. Instead, focus on what the company you’re interviewing for wants.

All you have to say to instantly separate yourself from other candidates is this: “I have plenty of stuff I can review with you, but before I get to that, I want to know: what’s important for you to see? This way I can cater what I show to you so it’s relevant and productive for our conversation.”

Nobody, and we mean nobody, says this in interviews because candidates are led to believe the interview is an opportunity to only talk about themselves.

If you want to knock the interview out of the park, ask the interviewer the questions instead, and continue the conversation based on their answers.

Before You Go…

We hope you start putting these six tips into practice so you can walk out of school with a certificate and job offer in hand. If you’re consistent in your effort, go out and network, research opportunities, and practice refining your skills, you’re already 10 steps ahead of your classmates.

For more tips and guidance, check out the video below: