What do you think is the most important thing you need to find a graphic design job?
Experience? It's very important most of the time. But sometimes experience isn't necessary when you apply to certain entry-level positions, or when the potential employer is a relative or close friend.
Emotional intelligence? It's true that a well-adjusted individual is more desirable to potential employers than a maladjusted person. But even a maladjusted person can learn to give a good interview and get a job these days.
Good network of contacts? This is probably one of the best ways to find a good job. But I have to admit that most of the jobs I got were not through referrals. I usually looked up jobs on job boards that seemed like a good fit and applied.
All the above pieces are essential in finding a good design job. However, any of the these alone is not enough. And yet, with all of these, there's still one thing that ties them all together. And that one thing is a plan.
Here's what I mean. You can have a lot of experience, but if you are just waiting for someone to contact you, that may never happen. And, if you look in the wrong places you will have a tough time finding a good match for your experience and interest.
When you are looking for a job, you have to think like a marketing manager. (Well, afterall you are doing marketing in a sense.) Marketing managers develop marketing plans. Think of your job search as being like a marketing campaign where you are selling you.
Developing your marketing plan
To make a good plan, here are 5 things you will need.
First of all, you have to have a good idea of your goal. (Hint: its not to find a job.) Your goal is to find a job that fits who you are and where you want to go in your career. That doesn't mean your next job is your dream job, but it has to fit into your overall goals some way.
If you are looking for your dream job directly, you have to have a clear picture of where that job is, whom you would like to work with, and what you want to be doing. If you are clear about this, all you have to plan is how to get there.
You must be clear on the product you want to sell. Simply, you are the product.
You must be able to answer why you are the clear choice from the employer's point of view. This is sometimes called your USP (unique selling proposition). And you must be able to list your top qualities (features) that address the employer's needs (benefits). To do this well you must know what your audience's (employers') pain points are. And you will know this if you develop a good employer (customer) profile.
Since you have developed your main goal in the first step, you will be able to develop a profile of your ideal customer or target market. And that would be your potential employer. Who are they, what are they like, and what are they looking for and why?
What do you want to consistently say about yourself (the product). This will become your main messaging. List out your USP, your strengths, and your weaknesses. Consder how you want to handle your weaknesses, and how you want to talk about them. Develop a strategy for weaknesses that will make them less impactful, or become a strength. For instance, if you have a hard time organizing multiple projects, create systems for how you work. This can become a strength as you implement these systems on a daily basis and find success. And consider how to talk about it as you craft your messaging for each employer in your target market.
And last, consider the media your potential employers will encounter your messaging. According to your target profile, you should be able to predict where they will see your messaging. Are they likely to see your social media feeds, LinkedIn profile, resume, etc.? Or will there be an intermediary who will filter information to your main target? Plan for these in all your outward facing touch points.
The last step is implementation. To put this all together into actionable steps, create a section in your plan for tactics. This is where you list action strategies as bullet points. For example:
- Post on X forum every Tuesday
- Join network group at X.
- Post resume on X or on company Y's website.
- Call X person.
You get the idea. The more organized you are about this, the better your efforts will be. And don't forget to measure your results, so you can get an idea of what works, and what doesn't. Your plan is a working document. So, adjust your plan as you go.