10 Tips for Landing an Interactive Design Job

In today’s extremely difficult economy, the job market is getting more competitive with each passing day.

That’s why it’s vital to make sure you stand out and rise above the competition. Below are ten tips that will help you get your foot in the door.

1. Resume Design

Just because you are applying for a design job doesn’t mean your resume has to be over-designed. Too many colors, extreme patterns and background images in your resume can make it look gaudy and unpolished. A resume should not stand out for the wrong reasons.

Employers care about seeing where you have come from and where you want to go. If your resume is visually distracting, potential employers may not notice your work history and achievements. Going with a clean, traditional format that makes the copy the hero is best practice.

2. Have an Online Portfolio

When job hunting for an interactive design position, be sure to keep your personal portfolio up to date and have it available on the web. Not having an online portfolio can throw up red-flags for employers. If you want to work in web design, it’s important to show that you know how to maintain your own site. Without a portfolio, it is unlikely you will even get a call for an interview. At the very least, have a PDF linking to your work available.

Additionally, make sure your online portfolio is easy to get around. Again, it’s about the work… not the portfolio design. A simple, clean portfolio format will show off your skills and past design achievements.

3. List Your Role (in your portfolio)

When showing projects in your portfolio, it’s a good idea to list what your role was in each. Did you build, design, or direct the project? This helps potential employers get a handle on your true skill-set.

4. Proofread

Poor grammar and spelling mistakes might not completely ruin your chances, but simple mistakes might show that you have poor attention to detail – a vital skill when it comes to design.

5. Do Your Homework

Make sure you research the company you are interviewing with. It’s good to know what type of work they do, and who their clients are so that you know how to best sell your skill-set. A company wants to know that you are passionate about work and taking the time to learn about the company indicates that you are self-motivated.

6. First Impressions

Don’t be late or miss your interview. If it’s a scheduled phone interview, it’s a good idea to keep the line clear and plan to be in a quiet place so you can focus on the conversation. Clear communication is important. An interview is about selling your skills and passion for the medium. Use it as an opportunity to showcase your professionalism and sell yourself.

7. Have Patience

Given the current economic conditions, employers are taking their time finding just the right candidates. The over-saturated job-seekers market might mean a longer interview process. Reaching out to check the status of the hiring process is a good idea, but don’t do it every day.

8. Don’t Undersell Yourself

Be confident in yourself. Interviews can be intimidating but selling yourself short by being too humble may cheat you out of a second interview. Know how your skills stack up and focus on what you can do well, not what you can’t. That said, don’t over-sell yourself either, it may come off as if you’re stretching the truth.

9. Honey Gets More Flies than Vinegar

It’s a small world. Little white lies can come back to haunt you. Also, don’t bash your past clients or employers, you never know when the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon rule might apply so you don’t want to burn any bridges. It’s always a good idea to be diplomatic and focused on providing solutions when talking about challenging work experiences.

10. Exceed Expectations

In other industries, candidates are often asked to take personality tests or evaluations to see if they qualify. In the design field, some employers may ask you to complete a design test. These tests are not considered spec work but allow employers to gauge your design style, speed, strategic insights, and interaction design knowledge. It also gives you an opportunity to show how you handle pitches and selling ideas to clients.

Have fun with it and treat it as if it’s a real project. If given a design test, go above and beyond what is asked. For example, try to finish before the deadline or create more than one design direction. This will blow away potential employers and help you stand out from the crowd. Providing additional documentation to explain your design-test concepts also shows that you think about strategy and not just a pretty picture.

It’s a tough market out there now, but some agencies are actually hiring.  Put as much effort into your application as you do into your designs and you’re sure to stand out from the competition.  Great talent should stand out in any environment.