Changing careers? Here’s how to land your first design job


p 1 90651621 itand8217s the perfect time to switch to a career in design hereand8217s how

COVID-19 precipitated us to reassess rather a lot, together with our jobs. This yr, 52% of all Individuals plan to change jobs, and as many as 44% have carried out precise plans to accomplish that. And with extra employers providing distant work choices than ever earlier than, that opens the door to corporations—possibly even to complete new careers—you haven’t beforehand thought-about.

However what is going to make these corporations think about you, particularly when you’re attempting to land your first design job?

That’s a query we posed to Diane Domeyer, government director at one of many greatest staffing businesses on the planet, Robert Half, the place she oversees the agency’s placement of selling and artistic workers. Domeyer has been getting folks employed for almost 30 years, and argues that it’s the right time to soar into the sector of design.


“Take into consideration the quantity of transition: organizations have had to redesign workflows, adapt buyer expertise, and alter the best way they supply items or companies to clients,” she says.

Because of this, design is on the forefront of most corporations’ minds. In accordance to Robert Half’s personal analysis, 9 out of ten hiring managers are having bother discovering the expertise they’re on the lookout for—particularly inside design. Moreover, Domeyer factors out that unemployment charges inside design are decrease than the nationwide common, significantly within the scorching fields of internet, digital, and UX design.

So how do you seize this uncommon second? Take Domeyer’s recommendation to craft the right portfolio, nail the interview, and correctly gauge your alternative.

Construct your portfolio the suitable approach

Maybe it sounds apparent, however constructing your personal design portfolio, stuffed with examples of your work, is of paramount significance. That’s true for any designer, however significantly for a brand new designer attempting to break into the sector.

“That’s your ante into the sport,” Domeyer says. “Even when you’ve not designed professionally, you want to construct your portfolio with work you’ve accomplished.”


So what’s the very best technique to construct a design portfolio with no earlier job in design? After all you’ll be able to publish private initiatives, however Domeyer recommends constructing shopper expertise on the aspect by means of professional bono, volunteer, or freelance work. She additionally suggests attempting to get compensated whereas constructing your portfolio when you can, and factors to Upwork and Fiverr pretty much as good spots for brand spanking new designers to get some paid jobs below their belt whereas constructing a group.

As for how many examples you want for an entire portfolio, you truly don’t want to present a ton of initiatives to impress a potential employer. High quality over amount is unquestionably the very best method.

“Most employers will have a look at possibly 5 initiatives,” Domeyer says. “Most individuals will say you place your strongest work first . . . then above and past the visible presentation of your portfolio, have a descriptor as to how you probably did the work and your artistic course of. That’s as impactful because the visuals.”

Utilizing an internet platform like Behance to host your portfolio works nicely, although Domeyer additionally suggests utilizing the positioning to mine others’ portfolios to reverse engineer one of the simplest ways to set up and current your work.

Nail the 2 kinds of interview

“We all the time say the portfolio is what provides you the interview, however how you current your self [in the interview] is what will get you the job,” Domeyer says. So that you truly need to put together for the 2 commonest varieties of interviewers you could be getting. “You want to be ready to converse to an professional in design, and also you want to be ready to converse to a novice in design,” she says.

The first fashion of interview you may encounter is with a expertise supervisor who is aware of a design function wants to be stuffed however doesn’t perceive the ins and outs of design itself. This implies you’ll find frequent floor by speaking about your basic skills as an expert, quite than your extra particular skills as a designer.

“You’ll have a bonus in which you can articulate your contributions in no matter your earlier profession expertise is, as a result of your focus will likely be much less on your portfolio,”  Domeyer factors out. “It would contain the portfolio, however it received’t contain a critique of your work. If that’s the case, use it as a bonus to leverage your accomplishments in your earlier group and function, and your contributions by way of enterprise affect. However be clear in how you’ll convey design into the subsequent part of your profession.”

Now, when you’re speaking immediately to a artistic director or different design-knowledgeable particular person, it is best to take a distinct method that focuses on your craft. “Talking to a artistic chief, you want to be ready to converse to not simply the work you’ve in your portfolio, however your artistic course of,” Domeyer says. “Particularly when you’re new within the trade [be ready to explain] how do you go from idea . . . all the best way to the tip product?” Alongside the best way of promoting your course of, it’s additionally good to emphasize that you simply’re ready to be taught.

As a closing level, Domeyer emphasizes to design candidates that the delicate abilities they’ll showcase in an interview are all the time vital, and they’re significantly vital on this area. A part of being a great designer is being a great communicator, and also you want to showcase your communication abilities through the interview. “Oftentimes, you’re presenting your ideas to enterprise homeowners who aren’t essentially designers,” she notes, “and due to this fact, there’s a excessive diploma of emphasis of not solely how nicely you’ll be able to visualize an finish product, however how nicely you convey others alongside.”

Don’t be afraid to make the leap—it truly is the right time

Maybe all the pieces you’ve learn above is smart, however you continue to simply aren’t positive that you simply’re prepared to soar right into a full-time job in design. Clearly, it’s essential to suppose over any huge profession shift. However Domeyer emphasizes that now actually is an objectively good time to make a transition, and it’s a second that received’t final without end.

On prime of the truth that hiring managers are having bother discovering designers, she says that Robert Half’s analysis has discovered that 70% of hiring managers are presently planning to enhance the variety of contract designers they rent. Contract design is freelance work, after all, however Domeyer encourages new designers to be open to it to construct that portfolio and expertise.


As for the place it is best to look to spot a design job, Domeyer recommends just about any firm with an e-commerce operate, but additionally retail, items and companies, and hospitality. “A few of the industries negatively impacted on the early outset within the pandemic have wanted to have among the most important change out of it,” she says, noting that it’s a good suggestion to solid a large web throughout the nation throughout your job search.

“I’ve been in expertise for nearly 30 years, and we’ve by no means seen—due to what occurred in distant work [with COVID-19]—as many employers prepared to have a look at folks from totally different geographies,” Domeyer says. “The connection of people to the variety of alternatives has by no means been as robust as now.”

Nonetheless, whereas the alternatives are plentiful, our professional’s closing piece of recommendation to new designers is to be open-minded, and never too choosy in regards to the first job they land within the area.

“Don’t go someplace that’s the mistaken match. That’s not the purpose,” Domeyer says. “However be prepared to take possibilities, to soar forward in one thing to acquire expertise. In the event you’re new within the design profession, generally essentially the most thrilling a part of the journey goes to the unknown. You’ll have to soar on one thing you haven’t absolutely contemplated to get the expertise. And your journey will likely be extra clear, the extra steps you’re taking.”