RULE #1 In Finding A Design Job In This Economy: STOP Looking For One!

by Calvin Cox on February 7, 2010

Man with magnifying glassWhen I decided to write this article I was inspired by all the people I knew that were having trouble finding work; some for a few months, others moving into a year.  It got me thinking about the extended length of time it takes to find a job these days.  I thought,  with all the qualified designers out there in resume databases and design portfolio websites, why are recruiters still having difficulty finding  designers to hire.

The reason is that recruiters seldom look for designers that are looking for work. Instead they look for designers that are not looking for work.  Confused? Well, there are two phrases in the recruiter’s lexicon that are used constantly, “active” and “passive candidates”.  They prefer to hire the latter, simply because of the perception that good people are always employed and employed people are usually talented.

It’s kind of like that girl you liked in high school– you chased her around to find out that she was not interested… that is — until you got busy, ignored her, spend time working out, playing sports and becoming popular, and voila – Now she wants to hang out.

Same is true for recruiters.  They want to discover you and not the other way around… So if that’s the case, let them.  Instead of wasting your time searching job boards and adding your resume to bottomless databases, how about coming up with a plan to build up your personal brand, showcasing your talents so they can find you.  Yes!  the personal branding talk yet again 🙂

To help you get started:  I’ve outlined a plan of action or blueprint with the necessary steps you’ll need to take  to find your next design job. This will take some time to implement, so the quicker you get started the better.

First, I’ll create a fake designer persona (profile) so I can better address the designer specific needs:

Fictitious Designer Profile:

Title: Fashion Designer

Experience:  3 years experience

Expertise: Great at design and illustration

Location:  Looking for a design job in New York City

Target Company to work for:   Donna Karen, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors

Next, I’ll outline the necessary steps you’ll need to take to establish your online presence.

The Design Job Getter Social Networking Blueprint

(this plan assumes that you’re starting from scratch)

Steps to building your online personal brand

1.     Create a design portfolio website– If you don’t have the resources to do it yourself or pay someone, use a design portfolio website like Styleapple or Carbonmade to upload your work.   To maximize your exposure on these websites I recommend filling out your designer profile completely.

Most portfolio websites search engines search keywords, disciplines and categories.  You’ll show up in more search results by simply taking the time to fully complete your profile. Generally speaking, images will not help to get  you found in a keyword search.

2.     Start a blog – preferably on WordPress (free) or Hubspot(monthly fee – SEO assistance)

a.     Frequency of blog postings – 2 to 3 times per week.

b.     What do you blog about? At least once a week you should have a new illustration or design work in which you demonstrate your creative process step by step from inspiration to sketch to fabric selection.

What you’re looking to accomplish here is  to share how you go about developing a collection or pieces in a collection.  It’s important that your future employer knows how you work.

Other ideas for blogging include unconventional inspiration, fashion shows you like, your trips to the fabric store,  cool fabrics you discovered, designers you admire (hopefully one of which is the company(s) you’d like to work for.

This is necessary for one important reason: companies are actively monitoring their brands online (utilizing brand monitoring tools) by subscribing to a number of  keywords that they deem important to their brands. Company name, head designer’s name, competitors names, and product names are keywords you can expect to trigger a response or a review of what is being said online.   So why not talk about them!

This can be an effective strategy when job hunting. With that said, doing your research about the company, finding out what they are up to and writing blog articles about what’s important to them is a great way to get noticed.  So when your potential employer is searching the internet to find out who’s talking…. Well– you’re talking and you’re saying “nice” things about them.

3.     Start accounts on the following social networking websites:Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn

a.     Twitter (To Do List)

i.      Tweet Frequency – 2 to 3 times

ii.      Twitter Profile URL – Link your Twitter profile URL to your blog or Facebook business page, NOT your personal profile page

iii.      Whom Should I Follow? Start following designers from all

disciplines including interior designersweb designersindustrial

designersillustratorsfashion designers, fashion companies, fashion

schools, fashion editors, fashion bloggersgraphic designers,

advertising agencies,  etc. – Anyone that may have some connections in

your industry.

iv.      Twitter Bio –  Your twitter bio should be witty yet informative i.e.

Young Fashion Designer Looking For His Next Big Break – Will work for


v.      Tweet Content – Let you personality shine here. Talk about things

you find interesting personally and professionally.  Have your blog feed

attached to your twitter account.  Retweet and comment on tweets

from companies that you have an interest in.

b.     Facebook (To Do List)

i.      Facebook Accounts – Start a personal profile as well as a business

page (this will allow you to post design related content and get a fan

base going.

ii.      Blog Feed On Facebook – Have your blog feed attach to your

Facebook business page.  You can use the Social RSS application to do


iii.      Facebook Fans – Ask all your friends, family and associates to

become fans on your business page, the more fans the better.

c.      LinkedIn

i.      LinkedIn Accounts – Start a LinkedIn account – Take the time to

complete your profile (above 90%) for reasons mentioned above.

ii.      Get recommendations – Ask your colleagues or previous

employers to write you a recommendation, at least three(3)

recommendations will give you a leg up when being considered for a

job.  I’ve gotten many jobs purely on a recommendation.

iii.      LinkedIn Groups – Join all the groups you have an interest in.

LinkedIn’s limit is 50 groups.  Join 50 LinkedIn Groups.  There are many

design and recruiter groups you can join includin

Creative Design Pros,  Designers Talk and Fashion and Lifestyle.

iv.      Connection Selection – Find designers and recruiters in these

groups and ask to network with them.    Be sure when asking to

connect with recruiters not to be pushy by asking them if they have any

jobs available.  They’ll likely ignore your request simply because they

get these requests all day, every day.  It’s better to start building a

professional relationship first.

It’s also important when networking and finding connections that you

do not only ask fashion designers or designers in your discipline to

connect with you. It’s better to connect with designers outside your

discipline as well. This is so if someone approaches an interior designer

looking for a fashion designer, chances are good that they’ll only know

one(1) fashion designer, YOU!

Once you’ve set up the above accounts, now you’re ready to look for a job or rather have your job find you.  Which, I will discuss in my next post where you’ll learn how to work these networks  and contacts to get your next design job.

Feel free to leave your questions and advice in the comments below, I would like to get your feedback.

Step 1 in finding a design job is creating a design portfolio of your best work.  Start by creating your design portfolio on the Styleapple Designers Network!  It’s free and simple.

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