HINTS FROM THE PROFESSIONALS ON HOW TO GET THAT FIRST JOB

13 November 2006
Markus Hanzer, Uli Mayer-Johanssen, Andreas Uebele, Nicolas Guirriec, Ben Stott, David Hillman
Markus Hanzer, Uli Mayer-Johanssen, Andreas Uebele, Nicolas Guirriec, Ben Stott, David Hillman

Markus Hanzer
DMC, Vienna (AUT)
W: www.dmc.at

1. What does the ideal job application look like from a young designer?
All the relevant details should be fast and easy for the recipient to find. I should see immediately what it is the applicant is interested in (branding, corporate design, interface design, content design, editorial design etc.), details of skills (concept, typography, illustration, animation, etc.), what role s/he would like to play in my company (designer, art director, project manager, customer contacter, etc.) and what his or her interests are outside design (psychology, philosophy, history, art, etc.)

2. Which portfolio will hold your attention (how should a portfolio be structured, what should be included, what should it look like)?
Design for me is about solving problems. In order to assess a piece of work, I always have to know what problem the design was seeking to solve. Simple picture collections don t interest me. But when I come across a collection of new and exciting ideas for solutions, then I will happily take my time over it.

3. Do's and don'ts of a job interview (clothes, attitude, what documents should the applicant bring)?
In my view a designer is someone who provides a service. If the designer places him- or herself at the centre of the work, then that person would be better working as an artist. In an interview I should be able to see the applicant s ability to tackle the problems of others. An approach like that is also expressed in clothing, behaviour, and style of presentation.

4. Your advice to young designers?
Design is a wonderful job, nd it can bring endless joy, if you come along ready to learn, to keep your curiosity and to keep questioning yourself with the intention of creating structures that help make life more worth living.

Uli Mayer-Johanssen
META-DESIGN, Berlin (GER)
W: www.metadesign.de

1. What does the ideal job application look like from a young designer?
It s just like in real life! Our day-to-day work serves to translate the identity of a company via the visual. We have to give the companies tools so that they can manage their image on the market consistently and strategically. The same is true of an application for a design job. How does the applicant see him- or herself (young and wild, radical strategist, a lover of typographical detail )? And do we get that message? What does this applicant have that others don t? Anyone applying as a designer has the opportunity to shape their presentation very sharply. Of course, social competence and motivation are best assessed actually on the job, but you can get clues in the interview and from the portfolio of work. And I would always take on a person who really does enjoy design and who is also capable of learning, than someone with a thousand qualifications.

2. Which portfolio will hold your attention (how should a portfolio be structured, what should be included, what should it look like)?
The portfolio has to be credible. Anyone who thinks that they can cause a furore with things like bombastic dimensions, heavyweight folders, 'witty' packaging etc., is severely mistaken. Even though the first impression does count, it is the overall effort, the content and the applicant s skills that form the basis for a decision to employ or reject, not the format.

3. Do s and don'ts of a job interview (clothes, attitude, what documents should the applicant bring)?
An interview is not an interrogation, but a lively exchange about attitudes, points of view, design and experience. I think there are few professional groups where content is discussed as fast, and at the same time so many aspects of the applicants themselves play a central role. There are three factors which play a key role in the effectiveness of a piece of work: first motivation, second skill, and third, social competence. In this case, too, the smallest denominator limits the biggest without social competence, i.e. the ability to communicate and work in a team, for example, a person simply cannot make the most of his or her high motivation or skills.

4. Your advice to young designers?
Designers have to understand that design is a strategic tool, and then get to grips with the requirements of their future clients. If a young designer wants to work in the long term in corporate identity, then he or she should be learning about the basics of business, strategic planning and integrated communication. Design has to transport trust, credibility and the future-orientation of the brand and the company. Designers have to grasp this dimension, too, so that they don t just design nice, trivial logos whose expression derives from nothing more than the designer s own personal creativity.

Andreas Uebele
B ro Uebele, Stuttgart (GER)
W: www.uebele.com

What does the ideal job application look like from a young designer?
A neatly organised application, legible, clear and easy to find your way around. No packaging or layout gimmicks, practical, and with a photo and CV attached. And a legible typeface.

Which portfolio will hold your attention (how should a portfolio be structured, what should be included, what should it look like)?
See above.

Your advice to young designers?
Anyone applying to us should first have found out about the work we do. S/he should be able to listen and should know what they want. And to be able to express it. S/he should be well read and well informed. But the most important thing is that the applicant should be nice. After all they have to fit into the atmosphere at the office. You have to want to work with that person, and that s more important than having outstanding work. What do I mean by nice? Friendly, someone who looks the part, has a presence, a personality. The applicant has to be an appealing person, it s like a client who chooses to work with our office.

Your advice to young designers?
Be hard-working. Be reliable. Be dedicated.

Nicolas Guirriec
Linoleum, Arcueil (FRA)
W: www.linoleum.fr

1. How should a young designer apply and what does the ideal job application look like?
Certainly the best way would be to present your work and skills around a mealtime, ideally, actually during the course of a meal. You could introduce yourself during the ap ritif, display your chef d oeuvres at the hors d oeuvre, outline your skills at the plat de r sistance and show your CV over dessert A kind of digestive corruption.

2. Which portfolio will hold your attention (how should a portfolio be structured, what should be included, what should it look like)?
A portfolio has to be representative of the person.
Avoid being perfect or pretentious.
Do not avoid weaknesses, but counterbalance them with strengths instead.
Admit influences.
Shout out desires.


3. Do s and don'ts of a job interview (clothes, attitude, what documents should the applicant bring)?
You have to approach an interview as if you were meeting your lover. Your intention must be to bring some pleasure to the interview partner. If the intention is good, the demand will be satisfied, knowing that fidelity comes from duration . You have to learn how to be patient before imposing yourself.


4. Your advice to young designers?
Obviously prefer certain quality to mediocre quality.
To be profoundly human, not to be material.
Talent is not technical, it is creative, it is in our head.
We find what we look for.

Ben Stott,
nb:Studio, London (GBR)
W: www.nbstudio.co.uk

1. How should a young designer apply and what does the ideal job application look like?

You should try and do a little research about the studios you are applying too, I know it seems easy to apply the scatter-gun approach and email as many as possible, but a well thought through and targeted piece of mail (not email) can work wonders, after-all your portfolio is no good if you can't get into an agency to show it.

2. Which portfolio will hold you attention (how should a portfolio be structured, what should be included, what should it look like)?
The most important thing is to be confident about the work you are showing, don't show work you don't actually like yourself, trust me it does not look good if you criticise your own work. Keep it simple and hone it down to your best pieces of work, most people who are going to look at your work won't necessarily have much time.

3. Dos and Don'ts of a job interview (clothes, attitude, what documents should one bring with)?
As above self confidence is important, but don't get too cocky. Think about your appearance, but don't wear your Sunday best, as you will probably look smarter than the people you are going to see. I personally don't look at too much documentation, but do leave behind your details and examples of your best work if possible.

4. Your advice to young designers?
There are lots of you out there looking for a job, to be brutally honest it's a buyers market. So be patient, be positive and don't give up.

David Hillman
Pentagram, London (GBR)
W: www.pentagram.com

1. How should a young designer apply and what does the ideal job application look like?

Pentagram doesn't advertise jobs for designers, the people that we choose are generally people who, using their own initiative, manage to navigate their way past the Pentagram 'firewall'. Personally - and I think my fellow Pentagram partners would agree - "Dear Pentagram" letters don't really work. We are far more interested in designers who know which partner they would like to work for and have a clear idea about the kind of work that partner does.


2. Which portfolio will hold you attention (how should a portfolio be structured, what should be included, what should it look like)?
A portfolio should ideally comprise no more than ten projects, preferably less. It should include the work that best represents the designer's talents. The ideas behind the work should be strong enough not to require a running commentary from the designer. The work should speak for itself. After all, that's what good design does.

3. Dos and Don'ts of a job interview (clothes, attitude, what documents should one bring with)?
It isn't just the quality of a designers work that will get them a job. Pentagram aren't interested in egos. New members of staff need to be team players, so it is important that a new designer fits in with an existing team or group.

I very much doubt that I'll ever hire somebody with a wild hairstyle, or somebody covered head-to-toe in piercings and/or tattoos, not from any kind of personal prejudice - I'd just rather avoid scaring my clients.

4. your advice to young designers?
Other than "take up gardening"... Find out as much as you can about the person you want to work for before you meet them. It doesn't go down at all well if you turn up and and ask "so what do you do?"




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