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The Job Search...For those wondering, where the hell do I start?
Strong Portfolio and Branding Employers look for a great portfolio, and a strong branding that conveys your personality and skills. What makes a good portfolio?- A strong logo that sets the mood for your personality- A tagline that creatively states what you do- Large high quality images of all of your work- A list of your skills or services- A strong about me section that really conveys your personality- A call to action that guides users to the most important sections of your site like your portfolio and contact- Social networking- The overall writing tone to your site is friendly and personable - don’t sound like a corporate business- Your site is w3c validated- Case studies- Link your images not just text- Have a portfolio piece to display that is either for a client or beneﬁts the real world like a downloadable icon set or a wordpress theme - most employers will not be impressed by only school work unless it is top notch.- more info here http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/02/26/10-steps-to-the-perfect-portfolio-website/
Strong Case StudiesWhat makes a strong case study?- Multiple screenshots- Client background information- Project overview- A list of speciﬁc services provided- Client testimonials- Consider a dedicated page for each case study.- View http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/09/20/showcase-of-case-studies-in-design-portfolios/ for more details and links to sites with great case study examples. You can also check out Cabedge’s case studies for ideas.
Be MemorableMake a lasting impression with a leave behind or another creativememorable experience. A strong leave behind is something the employercan interact with, keep on their desk, or actually use in their ofﬁce (like acoffee cup).
Know Your Minimum SalaryCrunch some numbers and ﬁgure out how much can you comfortably liveon so you know what salary to ask for. Make a budget of all of yourexpenses that you will have post graduation. Make sure you include yourstudent loan payments, and factor in taxes from your salary.If you have to ﬂy to another city for an interview, or move somewhere for ajob be sure to ask the employer if they have it in their budget to help withthese expenses (most companies do, but may not tell you if you don’t ask).Upon your interview be sure to discuss raises. Most companies will give araise after 3-6 months, then another after 1 year. You should not beworking for a company that still pays you your starting rate after 1 year.
Where are you willing to live?Decide what cities you are willing to accept jobs in. If you just limityourself to one area you are greatly reducing your chances for more jobopportunities. Make a list of all of the cities you are interested in. Thenmake a list of all of your wants and needs for a city. Be sure to research allof the ones you are interested and make sure they meet your needs. Donot even bother looking into ﬁrms that are in areas you know you don’twant to live in.
Know what you want in a job.Make a list of wants and needs for your ideal job. Consider things likesalary, holidays and vacations, 401k, health care, do they provide youequipment, what your ideal work environment is (relaxed and fun, theyhave a keg, ergonomically chairs, they are dog friendly, ect.), remoteworking, monthly activities, their work ﬂow is similar to yours, ect. This willhelp eliminate ﬁrms from your list. You do not want to settle for a job thatdoesn’t meet your needs list unless you ABSOLUTELY have to. I’m talkingno other job offers, last resort or you will move into a cardboard box.
The Job Search (aka weeks of research) Researching for your ideal job should not be a quick thing. You don’t want to accept your ﬁrst job offer until you’ve looked into a few other options. You should be browsing several ﬁrms and doing thorough research. Ways to ﬁnd ﬁrms: http://www.similarsitesearch.com, twitter, linked in, see who is hosting meet ups and what company they work for, check for companies who’ve one addys, pick up the local city’s business journal, get on the city’s chamber of commerce site. As you ﬁnd ﬁrms you are interested in, make a list with the ﬁrm’s name, website, and contact information. Put notes on there for what you do and don’t like about the company. This will help you decide on your top picks.
Research the Firms You LikeResearch the ﬁrms you are interested in. Get a feel for their personality,see what kind of clients they work for, and look up their employeesportfolios, twitters, ect. Make sure your personalities will mesh well. Ifyou’re not a religious person, you probably don’t want to work for aconservative ﬁrm that does mostly non-proﬁt work for churches.
Network!Network everywhere - twitter, linked in, facebook, go to conventions, meetups, take your business cards to bars, ect. You never know where you willmeet someone who can give you a connection to a great job. Always besearching for opportunities to be around people in your ﬁeld.
Call the ﬁrms on your list.Call every ﬁrm on your list. Tell them you are a student about to graduateand that you are interested in working for them. They will be more willing tohelp you if you say you are a student. Have your portfolio and resume onhand to email to them. Take notes on your list about what was said on thephone, and what actions you took. These will be important to referenceback to when ﬁrms start contacting you back.
Follow UpMake sure you follow up with every ﬁrm you speak to, and everyone youmeet from networking. Maintaining a strong relationship with others in yourﬁeld is important. Be sure to send a hand written thank you note (andmaybe a cool leave behind) to any ﬁrms that take a peek at your portfolio orconsider you for hire. Even after you land a job, stay in contact with theother ﬁrms who interviewed you. You never know what great openings theymay have down the road.
Meet with Patrick. Seriously.Take Patrick for coffee or lunch, and pick his brain for input on jobsearching. He has some great tips for this whole process. He really helpedme ﬁgure out where to start. Don’t be afraid to ask other connections youhave for advice or to critique your portfolio.
The InterviewIf you land an interview make sure you have a list of questions ready toask them. You should be interviewing them as well. Again you do not wantto settle for just any job.Questions to ask:- What will I be doing each day?- How long do your projects usually take?- What will my hours be each day?- What is the dress code?- Do you offer parking?- Do your employees usually have to stay late?- Are your projects ever past due?- How many employees do you have?- What’s the turnover rate?- Can I work remotely some days?- Do you offer beneﬁts?- How many projects will I be working on at one time?- Are there senior designers (or developers) who will be working with me as I gain experience?