With thousands of recently graduated designers entering the job market this autumn, competition for that dream job – or any job – can be fierce. This week Blurb caught up with Kati Howe, D&AD’s Graduate Academy programme manager, for guidance on how best to stand out from the crowd.
Blurb: So what’s the market currently like for new designers looking for their first job?
Kati: It’s best to assume that the market is always a challenging place for new designers. The industry will always be in a constant state of flux, regardless of how the economy is doing. So don’t be disillusioned.
Approximately 65% of visitors to D&AD New Blood 2012 told us they had a paid placement or job that they were seeking talent for. As always, people are searching for talented designers.
Blurb: What are graduates doing to get their work noticed?
Kati: They’re pushing the parameters of collaboration and questioning the definition of their own practice. I’ve seen this with some recent graduates with whom I’ve worked recently. They’re breaking out of an introverted approach to their work and discovering a new bravery in their creativity An example of this is this year’s D&AD Student of Year winners, who exemplified this approach with their award-winning response to the Peace One Day brief.
Couple this with research, research, research. Know what your prospective employer or client needs from a new designer. Then be it and more.
Blurb: What things are employees/prospective clients looking for in a great graduate portfolio?
Kati: The feedback I often get from creative directors is that they are looking for good people as much as good designers. So be sure to develop a better understanding of yourself and your particular mix of skills, distil this into your work, and apply it to your interaction with industry professionals.
Blurb: And what should they avoid doing when it comes to their portfolios? What turns employees or prospective clients off?
Kati: All studios, agencies and clients are different. Be flexible and try not to roll out the same routine for everyone you see. Look at your portfolio with fresh eyes each time you make an approach.
Blurb: Have you noticed graduates using ebooks to showcase their work?
Kati: Graduates should always consider the relevant vehicle to showcase their work. If this is an ebook or a print book, the choice should be a natural fit.
Blurb: What’s the best piece of advice you can give to graduates?
Kati: It may not feel like it sometimes, but you have a great vantage point. You have a freedom and fluidity right now. Use that with passion and confidence, and have fun.
A big thank you to Kati for taking the time to talk to us. For more information about the D&AD’s Graduate Academy, check out their website.