The design industry is a crowded place, with may different routes for a creative to pursue, and not only is it increasingly difficult to distinguish your work, but also who you are as a creative – both as an inspired person and dedicated employee. In this article we discuss Landing Your Dream Job in Design
In the U.S., there are just over 286,000 people employed as graphic designers. Some work for marketing agencies or specific businesses. Many, however, are contractors or freelancers. It’s an industry that is becoming more important as we step further into the digital age and more businesses recognize the value of a quality website, marketing materials, and branding.
A career in graphic design is the perfect opportunity for any creative individual. Whether you’ve always had a knack for design or marketing, becoming a designer could be the perfect fit.
However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will likely be about a 4% decline in hiring for designers over the next 10 years. That could be due in part to the pandemic, or because more businesses and agencies are using in-house employees to focus on their design work.
As a result, if you’re trying to land your dream job in design, you should expect quite a bit of qualified competition. It might become more difficult to get hired, even if you have the right qualifications. So, it’s more important than ever to stand out among your competitors and prove to potential employers or clients that you are the right designer to fit their needs.
How can you do that and take the reins of your dream job?
Make Sure You Have the Right Skills and Tools
Before you put yourself out there, you have to make sure you have the right training and know-how to distinguish yourself. In this fast-paced, ever-changing world of technology, it can seem as though there are new programs, methods, and even new skills to learn on a regular basis. While that sounds like a lot, it’s crucial to keep up and stay relevant if you want to land a job and have a long career.
Thankfully, that same technology makes it easier than ever to remain relevant within the industry.
Having a natural sense of creativity is important for any designer; strong design skills are also crucial. But, those things typically won’t be enough for you to land a job in a competitive market. So, what are the tools you need? Some of the basics include:
- A reliable computer
- A tablet with a stylus
- Advanced design software such as Adobe Suite
It’s also a good idea to have a basic knowledge of web design code, including HTML and CSS. Whether you’re working on creating your own portfolio or website or you want to be able to fully design a client’s site from start to finish, knowing code is one way to have an “extra” skill that can pull you ahead of your competition.
Thankfully, you don’t necessarily need a degree or any formal training to learn to code. There are plenty of free online tutorials and “classes” you can take on your own time. Learning the basics can take about four to six months.
Keep in mind that graphic design consistently changes. If you want to stay relevant, you will need to continue training, learning, and staying up-to-date with the latest trends in the world of design. Over the next several years, it’s predicted that things like responsive design and image blocking will take over. If you’re not up to speed with those areas, it’s time to start learning.
Show Off Those Skills
Once you’ve honed your skills and you have mastered some of the essential tools, don’t be afraid to show them off! Remember, because there will likely be more competition, your creativity in getting your name and work out there is of the utmost importance.
One way to do that, of course, is to beef up your resume. Employers/recruiters spend about six seconds looking at your resume, especially if they’re bombarded with them. So, you have to make yours stand out immediately. You can do that by making sure your resume includes certain things like:
- A clean employment summary
- A key skills section
- Social media URLs
- Sharp, detailed achievements
- A catchy headline
If you’ve been working on a portfolio or you’ve had design jobs in the past, it’s also important to show off your work. A strong resume is great, but let’s be honest: an employer is going to want to see what you can do. Even if you’re a freelancer, a client will want to know what to expect from you ahead of time.
So, if you don’t already have your own website or online portfolio, that should be one of your top priorities. While your portfolio should include examples of your work that people can access easily, you can go one step beyond that by including a few unique features.
For example, show your values and tell potential clients what kind of designer you are and what matters to you. Talk about your personality and your method. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge and what you know about design upfront. A potential client will take comfort in knowing you’re confident in your work.
Additionally, never be afraid of being transparent and upfront with your pricing. It’s okay to list your rates on your website/portfolio. Again, it shows how confident you are in what you do. It also lets potential clients or employers know what to expect. When they see your prices, they can decide whether to hire you without having to talk about the subject later.
It’s Who You Know
Like many other jobs in almost every other industry, one way to land your dream job is to talk to someone you know. No, it’s not “cheating” the system or using an unfair advantage. Because there are so many people trying to get design jobs, talking to someone already in the industry can help you to get your foot in the door.
Networking is still one of the most effective ways to get connected with the right people. Even if it’s done completely online, it’s still a great way to learn more about the “key players” within your industry.
If you don’t currently know anyone within the design industry that can help you, put yourself out there on sites like LinkedIn. Create a profile, participate in discussion boards, and post regular updates in order to get attention from the right people. You never know who might give you a second look and decide you’re just the right person to work with.
Don’t Limit Yourself
If you truly want your dream job in design, don’t limit yourself to where you think you can/can’t work. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to what you think you can do, either. The best part about a dream career is making that dream as big as possible for yourself.
Just because you want to work in design doesn’t mean you need to follow a traditional path. If you don’t think working for a marketing agency or specific business is right for you, consider a different route. Graphic design can lead to a variety of different careers, including:
- Fashion design
- Stationery design
- Letterpress printing
- Sign painter
- Game designer
You don’t need to sit behind a desk or a computer all day just because you’re working in design. Chances are, you first found your passion in design due to your creativity. It’s important not to let that creative side get burnt out throughout your career.
So, if you don’t feel like a traditional design career path is for you, put that creativity to good use. Think outside the box, and create your own path for your dream job. The more unique it is, the less likely it will be for you to have so much competition. So, you can get ahead while loving what you do, all at once.
While landing a dream job in design might be more challenging in years to come, it isn’t impossible. Keep these ideas in mind as you take the next step toward your ideal career, and you can stand out from others in a unique and effective way.
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Also published on Medium.