Folio choices for an entry level graphic design role

Folio choices for an entry level graphic design role

Well done, you’ve done the hard work and your sharp application and CV has landed you an interview. Your CV will have featured a shortened folio of quality examples of your work.

Preparing for an interview

Now you need to prepare your folio for an interview, either online or in person.

This will most likely feature primarily work from your tertiary design course. Potential employers are not expecting a folio full of commercial work. It is a chance for the interviewer to recall their own time in education and the fun work on the briefs given at this point in a design career.

Check the details

An important step is to check if there are spelling errors you have missed while submitting your projects. If there are, now is the time to fix and update the work. This will be one of the first things a senior design team will spot, which goes for typos in titles or captions, depending on the folio format.

The next step is to make sure you have answers as to what the brief was and how you explored it. If you need to, make notes so you can refer to during the interview. The designer/s interviewing you will want to hear what you enjoyed, what you learnt. Designers are curious and the more depth you can demonstrate, the deeper the conversation and engagement. Examples: why you chose the font you did; how the colour palette was arrived at; what you learnt about the topic you did not know previously.

Have a range of projects

Look at the range of projects you have. If you have researched the studio you have applied for the role with, you should have an idea of the type of work they produce. Do you have any gaps? Depending on the timing, now is the time to take the initiative and either re-work a previous project from earlier study or set yourself a new brief, to include as example. Remember the interview team will be looking at your potential to develop your design skills. The more you can show your attention to detail, the better your chances of landing a role.

If you have any freelance projects, include these. However, depending on the quality level of the work, this/these should not sit in a primary position in the folio.

CV and job application preparation for graphic design roles

CV and job application preparation for graphic design roles

How do you stand out against the flurry of CV’s received for a graphic design position? What information are employers looking for?

First step, research the potential employer as much as possible. Are they a fit for your skills? Does the workplace culture fit your outlook?

Covering letter

Always read the job description and application guidelines carefully and follow the instructions. We suggest you include a covering letter that you tailor to the ad. Check you have addressed the letter correctly. If it is an unknown addressee, address formally with ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ or ‘To Whom it may Concern’.

The covering letter should be succinct, no need to repeat information from your CV. Aim to demonstrate your interest and suitability for the advertised role. CV’s received without covering letters look cursory and imply the applicant is only mildly interested/ticking boxes on a quota of applications.

All CVs

Bullet point relevant information. Content should be concise. Include relevant qualifications and experience. Include a short list of your interests outside graphic design. It gives a picture of your personality and life experience. Remember, most design roles are in small-to-medium studios. Interaction with a team is vital. Humans are social beings and intriguing non-design activities may be the edge that gets you an interview. If you have any voluntary activities, include this.

Entry level role CV

Of course, you have only limited experience at this point. The important point is to mention you are aware of this. If employers are hiring graduates, they understand you will be on a steep learning curve. Acknowledge you have much to learn and you appreciate you will need to work hard to absorb lessons from the industry.

Include your previous employment experience. Having retail or part-time work during study is invaluable. You demonstrate your reliability, motivational and interpersonal skills this way. This shows the potential employer you have the right attitude towards working and you have learnt skills dealing with colleagues and customers.

Experienced roles

Suggest carefully balancing promoting your skills vs what you can offer the business. As you progress in your career, you should have an awareness of how your skills can add value to a new employer. You should also understand the type of team you would like to work in, the projects you enjoy working on and how it all fits into your career plans.

CV design

This is a chance to demonstrate your design skills. Keep in mind you want a professional design flair combined with clear typography, so the content is easy on the eye. Quality is always above quantity. Include the only best examples of your work. As your career progresses, tailor the projects included to suit the role you are applying for.

Word not to include

The word ‘passionate’ is overused and has appeared in CV’s – seemingly – forever. Everyone says they are ‘passionate’. We strongly advise not including it. You do not stand out from the crowd by using it. English is full of marvellous, descriptive words. Expand your vocabulary. You are engaged. You are captivated. You are immersed. Passion belongs to poetry, gardening and love songs.

Final note

Spell checking is mandatory. Further, read your CV and cover letter out loud and make the grammar is correct and flows well. If possible, have a friend also check over. A fresh pair of eyes will spot things you may have missed.