Words by Erin, Digital Design Media Manager.
Let's face it: getting hired is hard. Competition is fierce in the fabric design industry, both for full-time and freelance gigs. But the good news is, we are here to help! We are a world-leading fabric design studio and we can help you crush it. Read on for an instant leg up in the field.
Congrats! Before you've even begun you made it to step one: research. Our long-time Creative Director, Bec has interviewed countless textile designers and eyeballed a bazillion portfolios, so can tell you exactly what it takes to be noticed by a potential employer (and what to avoid).
2. Compile a Compelling Portfolio
Make no mistake, your portfolio is your most important sales tool. "Most people come to the first interview with a laptop and their online portfolio," Bec says. "It's a tightly edited version of what they can do, usually comprising of a mix of finished textile designs and artwork." So how do you whittle down years of work into a really tight selection? How do you decide what goes in and what stays out?
Variety is Key: Recruiters want to see versatility and adaptability because you'll need to demonstrate that you can jump from fine pen drawings one day to large, gestural palms the next. "We look for someone who can do it all, or at least cover a few different looks while maintaining their own individual style," Bec says. So for example, include a fine botanical illustration and also that expressive mixed media piece. If you have some flat gouache and watercolour work, put those in too. Whatever you choose, Bec recommends its your A++.Present the best of the best of your work, she says, to put forward the best representation of YOU!
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Colour Theory: You won't solely be considered for your sketching skills - colour plays an important role. "We look for a range of combinations and love a designer who can put palettes together in interesting ways," Bec explains. Look closely at the different colours you've used in your work and find a cross-section of looks to showcase your versatility.
Layouts to Love: Composition and interesting use of proportions is another massive focus of design bosses pretty much everywhere. Find a half-drop repeat, something with borders, a more conceptual, placement-placed design, maybe a tile, and anything else that you think is a great example of varying proportion.
Embrace the extras: Don't exclude artworks that don't appear to be relevant to the job description. "If it's a job for textile design, show some graphic design as well if you've done it. You're selling yourself and if you've got more to offer than what we've asked for then that's just an added bonus."
TOP TIP: Got a second interview? Success! This is your opportunity to demonstrate your process. Bring in some physical pieces if you didn't on your first round. Sketchbooks, drawings, and unfinished work reveal so much about you and the way you work.
3. Create a Scannable CV
We know you know better than Microsoft Word. Show your personality through your resume with a design that reflects your aesthetic. Use a modern font and coordinating colours, and (very important!), a clear, scannable layout. Make life easy for the recruiter (and get your CV read!) with section headings and concise copy. Do one better and include a smiling photo of yourself!
Detail your relevant experience and answer the key points of the job ad. It's important to put time and effort into creating a custom CV for each role you apply for. According to TheLadders, an online job-matching service, you get one chance and six seconds to make an impression - so make it count.
TOP TIP: Save time and buy a pre-designed template in keeping with your personal style. Just edit your copy to fit.
4. Catch Them With Your Cover Letter
Though it's tempting to pack your introduction with factoids and efficiencies, it's best to keep it brief. "Cover letters should be short and to the point, otherwise, the information will be lost and may not get read," says Natasha, our Operations Manager. How to stand out if the recruiter gives your cover letter mere moments of their attention? Get your point across with your headline in bold at the top and some bullet points outlining your strengths in the body.
TOP TIP: Huge attachments will clog the recruiters' inbox or worse: never arrive. So email one PDF attachment under 2MB. In the email include a link to your portfolio or attach it as a compressed file.
5. Hold Their Interest in the Interview
Be Likeable and Smile: It doesn't necessarily matter whether you're the most qualified candidate for a position: being friendly, polite, and respectful is hugely important. The recruiter will choose someone they think they can get on with and who will fit in well with the team. Smiling is simple but projects a happy, confident message to the interviewer and will also have a positive effect on you too if you're feeling nervous.
Research the company: Stalk the website and social channels. You'll gain insight into the type of people they employ, the studio culture, and the clients. It looks good if you know a lot about the business. Also consider who the competition might be, in case you get asked.
Rehearse the Basics: Practice your responses to potential interview questions, whether out loud or in your head. Know your key strengths and weaknesses. Think about any real-world work situations you can draw examples from. Read over your CV right before your interview so that the details of your work history and education are fresh in your mind. Think about the remuneration you'd like for the role and a few questions to ask at the end. This shows thoughtfulness and reiterates your interest in the position.
6. Send a Follow-Up Email
A few days after the interview, get in touch to reconfirm your interest and express your excitement for the job opportunity. And also most importantly - thank your contact for their time. Your email will bring you back to the top of the recruiter's mind. Remember - if you have the passion to keep searching for suitable job vacancies, apply to all interesting ads with a killer cover letter and CV, and continue to polish and improve your portfolio, you will get the job of your dreams.
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