Finding work can be daunting when you are first starting out. We have some tips & tricks to help from CV writing to industry specific networking events, you can even check out the other courses to pool ideas.
“Starting anything requires energy.” This image is taken from The-50 (tweetable) things every creative should know.
Building your career takes time so start early in your course. Since many entry-level roles or placements in product design are not advertised put your energies into building contacts and gaining work experience from the day you start your course.
The following 8 steps should set you on the right path:
1. Get to know your market
Whether you want to work for a design consultancy, or in-house start building a list of companies you aspire to work with.
Find details by just putting ‘Product Design’ or ‘Product Design Companies’ into a search engine or use directories like;
Get to know who is winning awards, and leading in their field. The Learning Resources Centre at Ravensbourne has copies of relevant trade magazines to help with this research. You will quickly learn about companies that are expanding or contracting along with industry trends and technology, from which you can develop some leads.
2. Use your Linkedin account
Some examples for product designers are:
By reading the group posts and taking part in discussions on Linkedin you will learn a lot about what people are talking about in the industry. Not all of it will be relevant to you but all that you read will expand your knowledge of the industry.
Often people advertise that they need people for job roles or freelance work within the groups.
You can change the group digest to weekly updates rather than daily to save your inbox.
3. Start getting in touch with companies
When the time is right for you, look up the names of contacts within these companies on Linkedin and connect with them, it is really normal to connect with people you don’t know on Linkedin- just make sure your profile looks professional. The Careers and Industry Liaison team can help you with this.
If you want to get a job or placement in a design agency, consider which companies your work will fit in at. If they are advertising a job or placement (see sources below) ensure you provide exactly what they ask for and mirror the language in the job ad when you send a covering letter and CV.
Much of the time in design, you will need to access the hidden job market by making speculative approaches to see if anything might be available. You can ring employers or email. Designers all want to know that their work is appreciated so don't forget to tell them first what you like about their work or congratulate them on a particular product or campaign. If you are looking for a placement mention this as well as a possible outcome of the meeting
Then ask if you can show them your portfolio. Tempt them with something great in advance to get them excited about seeing you - Viewing work takes up their time after all.
Portfolio meetings can open up new opportunities but if you are just sending a straight speculative CV and enquiry letter, apply the same principles- enthusiasm for their work and a clear message on what you can do for them and when you are available.
Ensure you have a targeted CV and portfolio if you are taking this approach. Be upbeat in your approach but not too pushy.
4. Keep a log of people you contact
Keep a list of all speculative applications and portfolio meetings and always send a thank you to people who made the time to see you or responded to emails even if they can’t offer anything.
5. Talk to real people as well
You will inevitably make emails and applications that go unanswered but don't lose heart or feel wronged by employers who don't respond. These are speculative approaches after all. Think about how a busy person might receive your email paying particular attention to the title and the tone.
This approach taken from Ben Terrett’s blog is an example of how not to approach an employer.
We know it can be disheartening, but if you don't hear back from your applications, just make a note to contact that person again at some date in the future in a friendly manner once again. Maybe this time your email will arrive at just the right moment.
If you keep a list of all speculative applications and portfolio meetings you will be able to keep track of this. We know you would do it but just a reminder to always send a thank you to people who made the time to see you or responded to emails even if they can’t offer anything, as you never know when they might be able to help you in the future.
Attend events and trade fairs like 100% design. Research the companies attending and their products. If you attend the fair you may even get details of people to send your CV to. Professional networking events or conferences are other good places to make contacts.
6. Always look your best online
Employers will always like to check you out before they meet you in person. Delete inappropriate material from your Facebook account for example. A blog is a good way of showing people what you are interested in. By posting regularly you are showing people that you are active, engaged and still building your knowledge of design. After all designers never stop expanding on their knowledge throughout their careers.
7. Keep an eye on companies outside of London
If you are able to, consider expanding your job search outside of London. Some well-known companies like Dyson (Dorset), IBM (Southampton) and DCA (Warwick) can provide excellent opportunities for those willing to look a little further.
This Telegraph article looks at the recent recruitment drive by Dyson and the issues recruiters have with being London centric.
If you wish to work further afield, great experience can be gained overseas as long as you don’t cut off your links here. This Design week feature considers salaries and options of a range of designers overseas - Sun. sea, sand and CVs.
Adrem include advice on working in different countries and Going Global is also a good resource for researching overseas.
8. You have made a great start. Review your strategy regularly.
If your applications are not working, seek feedback on your approach. We don't all get it right first time. The Careers and Industry Liaison team can help with this.