Join Kristin Ellison for an in-depth discussion in this video Presenting your work, part of Diane Domeyer on Standing out in the Creative Job Market.
- So you have your brand, and you have your body of work, what are the most common ways that people are actually presenting their work today to hiring managers and prospective clients? - Well I would say first of all and we've already touched upon it, is that you as a designer, if you're, in building your portfolio, in today's environment everyone needs to have a digital portfolio. And so when you're first starting out, you can build that digital portfolio using, there's a whole host of sites that will create general templates for you be able to upload your work very effectively.
I think as individuals become more experienced and their body of work expands more and more individuals will build their own website to actually demonstrate that brand. So I'd say it starts with having a digital portfolio. I would say second of all is getting into the practice of being able to present your portfolio. I would say over the years we've worked with very, so many really talented designers that fall just a little short in the interview process, they may have beautiful work, great experience, but where they may fall short is not being able to articulate or communicate the impact of their work.
So the softer skills are equally as important as the body of work that you pull together in your brand, right. So being able to present it in a way, companies are looking for individuals who make contributions to their organization and so regardless of the size or scope of the project, if you can articulate both what was your role with the project and to the extent you can measure any kind of an impact that that particular project had on the organization, on the team, on the department, you'll be in a better position to have your brand and your body of work, work for you.
- Great, super helpful. And in a presentation one particular, one to one, how many pieces would you suggest somebody has? - You know, when we survey, that, when we surveyed hiring managers, what the creative directors and marketing managers tell us is that you should be somewhere around eight pieces of work. I have seen one of the mistakes that I also see in the interview process is that the samples that are presented, are either a not tailored to the opportunity, or b there's too much of the same thing, right.
So if you're going to present six to eight pieces, you want to have diversity of skill set demonstrated, diversity of project type and then you also want to make sure to the extent that you can that you can tailor the work that you show to the needs of either the client or the hiring manager. - So what if you have this collection of your best work, and you're going into an interview and you have this other work that's actually more relevant to that client, but that's going to make it too many pieces, do you pick the better work, or do you pick the more relevant work? - I would love to answer that by saying figure out a way to do both.
Because to your point, you want to limit the number of pieces that you may show, right, so one piece of advice that we often give is show your strongest work first, right, as your, the your kind of flagship piece, show that first. If that happens to be different than the needs of that organization, your next piece that you should show should be more tailored to their organization so that you can talk about, here's some of the work that I did that really shows the breadth of my skill set, now I've also had experience working on brands similar to yours, or doing projects similar to this, and show a couple of those pieces.
But then if you have other work that you feel is stronger, close with that work. If possible to integrate the two, I would integrate the two. - Okay. And what if you have this piece that's very important to you, you feel like it was a great, maybe it was for a big client and it had a lot of traction but it's from a long time ago? Is that something to include? - Well, I mean ideally the work that you want to show is what is most recent, you want most recent and most relevant so ideally you look at work that's been over the course of say the last five years.
Now, that being said, if you have something that's outside that period of time that is particularly strong or you think would be of terrific interest to the employer then I'd say by all means, demonstrate that work because your passion will come through, right, so if you can demonstrate both the impact that something had on an organization, the passion that you have for that work, and the skill set that you have, that will make you more employable, but also I don't know very many hiring managers that wouldn't want to see that if it was something you were really proud of even if it was quite some time ago.
But just balance it with some more recent work as well. - And resumes and cover letters, do most people or should they go a traditional route, or do hiring managers want to see a more creative approach? - Well, so you know, I hate to answer it in a vague way because in some ways it does depend, right, on your audience. In other words, if you are directly presenting your work to the creative director, that may be one you may have one style. If you need to go through the traditional channel of submitting a resume and it may go through say HR, or a marketing manager, they may look for more of a traditional resume, so you have to have multiple styles, first of all.
When we did our research, 70% of marketing and creative professionals told us that they prefer a traditional resume. But there's a way to do that with some flair and personal brand, right. - And good typographty. - Yeah right, typography and the way in which you demonstrate your title and the work that you've done, you can absolutely do that. But I think in today's world you also need to be mindful of, you don't know on who's desk your resume may come across and if it's a more traditional manger you want to make sure you've got that simple, traditional, professional format.
The other pieces you want to make sure that it can get picked up, more and more organizations are using applicant tracking systems that will run keyword searches on resumes. And if your resume is an image file that's not searchable, you may be hurting yourself through that design so more companies, most companies, prefer word and PDF versions of resumes. - So the interview process is always a protracted one, it seems never, it never takes the amount of time that we hope it will.
And-- - Probably both on the hiring manager side as well as the job seeker side. - Yes exactly. And so when you go to your interview and there might be a lag between when you hear from either HR or you hear, what's the best thing in terms of following up, so that you look proactive without seeming like a pest? - Yeah, well it's funny because I would say one of the biggest mistakes that is often made in the interview is that an individual, no matter what, whether you're a designer, a marketing professional, when you're in an interview you have to be a salesperson.
And so not only are you selling your skills and your experience and how you might fit in with that organization, but you need to close to the opportunity. So if you're interested in the job, one of the biggest mistakes that people make is they don't close to the opportunity, in other words, express your interest, as you close the interview, if indeed you are interested, and secondarily, ask what you can expect in terms of next steps, follow up and how do you fit in to the overall scheme of whether they think you'd be a good fit for the organization.
So if you ask that question in closing, you kind of then earn the right for follow up, right. So this is where I think good old-fashioned methods with today's digital landscape come together really nicely. You ask when it's expected that you should follow up or that you would hear from them again. You immediately coming out of the interview, send them an email thank you, right, but you can also follow up with a hand written note at the same time so you've got one touch point they receive immediately after the interview, you send a hand written note or a letter thanking them which might take three or four days, so it shows professionalism and eagerness and I'll tell you a lot of people don't do it so you will stand out.
And then thirdly if they're on LinkedIn or an association, request a connection with that hiring manager. So now you've got multiple touch points. If you then have heard from them that they would expect they might hear back, you might hear back from them within a week or two, if you get to the ten day mark and you haven't heard from them, it absolutely makes sense to follow up and re-express your interest in a phone call and or an email and let them know that you're available for any further questions. So if you do that in a professional way, you've got kind of contact marketing strategies in place, you can do it in a professional way that doesn't appear to be bothersome but at the same time keeps your brand in front of them just like any good marketing campaign.
- So let's say it goes the way you want it to and you get that job offer. And salary, it's always that tricky part of the process, and we're taught to never reveal what we are currently making, if possible, which sometimes it's not. And the goal is to get an offer which is at the top of what they can offer you for that position, how do you know that you're getting that offer? - Well you may never know and so what I would say is you know, more and more organizations at some point in the process, prior to final interview, are going to expect that they understand where your compensation is.
Most employers also recognize that in order for someone to make a move, they're definitely going to look for a modest increase. But employers, and in some cases more than a modest increase, but additionally employers in today's environment know that they need to be competitive in their compensation so I'd say rather than getting yourself worked up about did I get the most that I'm looking for, I would make sure that you've clearly conveyed what your expectations are, and that you have done your homework to make sure you know what is market.
And then thirdly, don't get yourself caught up in, did I get as much as I can get, or versus, am I happy with what they offer me? If, look at it more than just compensation; was it a step forward, is it the job opportunity that I want, because at the end of the day, all research has shown that what keeps people at organizations is not the compensation, it's the environment, it's the work that they do, and it's their leader. And so if you assess the situation based on that and you're happy with compensation, I'd say don't worry about did I get the most I can possibly get, you may never know.
- So shifting gears a little bit, to social media, how important is it to be involved in the design community online, either through Twitter or blogging, or the other social media platforms? - Yeah I would say it's very important, I mean to the extent that you want to build long term visibility, being engaged in the design community is only going to benefit you in many ways, first of all it will help you to keep your skills fresh, second of all you'll build a network of either mentors, or peers, or partners that have similar experiences that you can leverage in many ways.
And then thirdly, have the opportunity to potentially down the road if you look to make a change, you've already been a part of that community so being a part of the community means not just belonging to organizations, it means being a part of the conversation. If you join a group, so if you join a group on LinkedIn that is a design community group, are you contributing to the conversation, right. So you can build a brand for yourself in that respect by being involved in the community online.
So whether it be LinkedIn, Twitter, various social media, I mean for designers in particular what you can do with Instagram and Pinterest, the visual aspect of getting your work out there, it's a very exciting thing. - Yeah and I know that the user groups, like the Adobe user groups are a great way to-- - Absoultely. - Connect with other people and also be an active participant and give back to the community and help people trouble shoot. - I have yet to meet someone that has been actively involved in a professional community that's regretted it, right.
It only gives back, it's an additional time investment, but at the same time whether it be social media or physical involvement, and physical presence, it just gives back in spades. - So lastly, it seems there's a real shift towards trans-media, designers being a jack of all trades, having to have the skills of web, mobile, logo, branding, all of it. Are you finding that's the case or is there still a market for specialists? - Well you know, depending on the size of the organization, there are absolutely opportunities for generalists and specialists.
However, there is absolutely a trend towards making sure that you build diversity of skills so we did research for our creative team in the future which we do every year in conjunction with the AIGA, and we asked 800 marketing creative professionals who will have greater opportunities, hybrid professionals versus specialists and 48% felt that hybrid or as your saying trans-media generalists will have more opportunities versus 13% said they felt that specialists will have more opportunities.
Now, as I said it all depends on the size of the organization right, so there is absolutely a need within smaller organizations for general skill sets that cross traditional media as well as interactive, but as an organization grows, you've got deep expertise in, as an example, that's being built in user experience, right. But at the end of the day, there was a time where web design was considered it's own thing or email marketing, the email design was considered it's own thing and so if you're now a designer in kind of an overall marketing organization, you need to think of your designs across all mediums and so that's where the hybrid is coming from.
So visual designers and individuals that can do their designs through a variety of mediums will be more marketable in the future as we go on. - Diane thank you so much, it's been such a treat chatting with you today. - It's a pleasure, I'm glad to be here, thanks.
- The common traits of successful candidates
- Staying relevant, staying active, and staying challenged
- Making a business case for a raise
- Knowing your market value
- What to do when you're turned down for a raise
- How to establish a personal brand (both visual and verbal)
- Creating a personal logo
- What to feature in a portfolio: diverse, recent, and relevant work
- Tailoring your digital portfolio for different clients and employers
- Resumes and cover letters: a traditional or creative approach?
- Following up after an interview
- Making connections with hiring managers
- Building visibility on social media
- Engaging with the design community
- Thinking about design across all mediums