Breaking it into the digital industry can seem a lot more daunting than it really is. Competition might be huge; but with talent, ambition and a will to learn, it’s far from impossible!
I joined Engage as an intern in February 2017 and became a permanent part of the team three months later. Looking back on the past year, I’ve realised how many aspects to digital marketing there are that university might not exactly prepare you for. So without further ado, here are six of my own tips for securing that perfect design role.
Polish your portfolio
Your portfolio reflects not only your design skills, but also your personality! A well rounded portfolio will demonstrate that you’re a multi-disciplined designer with a lot of enthusiasm for the industry. When picking the designs choose carefully and include only work that is finished and you are proud of. Quality over quantity!
A good way to showcase a professional portfolio is to create a website for it. If web development isn’t your strongest skill, there are plenty of great pre-made templated options available, such as Squarespace and Behance. If you don’t have a lot of work to show, keep it all on one page. If you do, pick a maximum of six examples for each category, such as graphics, illustration, animation, branding and so on.
If you are including any text, keep it short, since you want your visuals to be the primary focus. If you struggle with the presentation of the actual piece, try an in-situ mockup, which helps show it in context.
Finally before making your portfolio public or sending it to possible employers, get someone to check it through thoroughly and give you feedback. Don’t rush it!
Tone of voice
As mentioned above, your portfolio will primarily demonstrate your design skills, but writing about yourself and your work is equally important. When composing your biography or application letter, try to fill it with personality rather than making it sound too formal. Do your research into the company you are applying to, and study their tone of voice. Adding a little character makes you stand out, just be sure to focus on your core strengths, as well as what influences your work. Speak about your designs passionately and proudly! Try and stay succinct too, keeping covering letters to no more than a single page.
Good knowledge of software and a desire to improve on it is crucial. Agencies hardly ever have the time or resources to start teaching someone from scratch, especially if it is not an internship you are applying for. As such, try and showcase as many software skills as possible, even if it is just the bare minimum. Additional skills, such as photography, art direction and illustration should also be included, but don’t try to force it! If you lack the knowledge and skill of any software, then spend more time learning and improving your abilities before applying.
Experience in the industry
Having actual industry experience, such as freelancing or work done during an internship will always boost your portfolio whilst showing how active and ambitious you have been during your studies. If you have zero experience, then a good way to show your capability to work in the industry is to critically study and redesign already existing marketing campaigns, or even come up with new ones for fictional clients.
Being up-to-date on the latest trends is crucial. Study what the modern consumer wants and what ways a good design can most benefit a prospective client. Social media is a huge part in the digital marketing machine, so make sure you know how it works and what all the most successful brands are up to.
If you are publicly active on social media, your profiles may well be scrutinised, so make sure your online presence reflects your professional-self. Instagram is a good opportunity to really show your workflow and methods.
One final piece of advice from our Creative Director, Tom;
“Digital continues to be an extremely competitive landscape, so it’s really important not to underestimate how many speculative applications land on our desks every day. Standing out and showing confidence is crucial, but the key is to stay humble and show that you’re keen to learn (as you’ll most probably still have a lot to learn!). Keep your portfolio up to date and make sure it’s as relevant as it can be for the role you’re going for. And if you don’t succeed at either application or interview stage, don’t take it personally and make sure to ask for feedback before you move on - it might just be what secures you a foot in the door next time.”