6 Job Search Tips for Recent Design Graduates

Many recent design graduates struggle to find work after they complete college. The job market still isn’t as robust as it should be, and employers are often hesitant to hire entry-level candidates. Fortunately, there are things you can do to increase your chances of getting the design job you’ve always dreamed of.

Here are six tips to help you become a fiercer and more successful jobseeker:

1. Use your résumé to show off your creative prowess

The typical, humdrum résumé created using a Microsoft Word template won’t suffice if you want to be taken seriously in the design world. Well-designed résumés created on programs like Illustrator that include tasteful graphics and stimulating text designs are what catch the eyes of potential employers. So, if you want to stand out, you’ll need to go the extra mile and design a résumé that communicates both your personality and your creativity. For inspiration, check out these creative résumés posted by professional users and designers.

2. Make sure your portfolio is impeccable

As a designer, top employers will expect you to bring a portfolio of your best designs and projects to the interview. Don’t think you can get away without showing them some of your work, and don’t put together a portfolio haphazardly. Thoughtfully pick out which of your designs are truly the best and include them in the portfolio you take to interviews. It’s also a good idea to create a personal website that showcases your designs and to link to your website on your résumé and LinkedIn profile. You should take every opportunity available to you to prove to employers that you’re a skilled designer.

3. Explore freelance opportunities

Many recent design grads limit their job search and only apply to full-time, salaried positions. Unfortunately, this can be a big mistake, especially when they’re just starting out their careers. There are many more opportunities for freelancers than there are for entry-level designers seeking full-time work. Companies that don’t hire on-staff designers often have projects they outsource to freelancers. Look for these projects. Working on them will give you the real-world experience you need to pad your résumé, allow you to network with other professionals, and ultimately help you land the full-time gig you desire.

4. Ask your former professors for help

One of the advantages of being a design student is that almost all of your professors probably had years of experience in the professional world, unlike English and philosophy professors who may have spent the bulk of their careers in academia. This means that it’s likely that your professors have professional connections who may be able to help you find a job. So, don’t be afraid to ask your former instructors if they know about any job leads. And make sure you ask them to serve as references for you, especially if you know they valued your work.

5. Avoid aiming too high.