RGD professionals share advice on applying for jobs in the creative industry
03/04/13
Every successful job search begins with a strong resume – but with hundreds of qualified applicants, you’ll need to know how to stand out in a crowd without going over board.

There is a fine line between illustrating your creativity and undercutting your professionalism. To help navigate the job application process, RGD asked nine industry professionals (and employers) to share advice in three key areas:   

 

1. Standing Out

2. The Cover Letter

3. Getting in Touch

 

Contributors:

Wendy Gray RGD, Creative Director, Gravity Inc.

Stussy Tschudin RGD, Managing Partner, Forge Media + Design 

Catherine Didulka RGD, Director Creative Services, Vincor Canada

Philip Yan RGD, Creative Director, GenesisXD Inc.

Jennifer Weaymouth RGD, Creative Director, Oxygen Design Agency

Adam Antoszek-Rallo RGD, Creative Director, Catalyst Workshop

Vanessa Eckstein RGD, Creative Director, Blok Design

Tim Smith RGD, Principal, The Pixel Shop

Marko Zonta RGD,  Creative Director, Zync Communications Inc.

 

1. Standing Out

While it doesn’t hurt to showcase your design skills, six out of eight respondents agree that the main focus of a resume should be clarity and organization.

 

“Although we are in a creative industry, nothing is more effective than a perfectly crafted resume,” says Wendy. “Traditional is not a bad word if it’s done well.”

 

Jennifer agrees, emphasizing the importance of professionalism and simplicity. “Your resume is not the place to introduce a rainbow of colours, your top five favourite fonts or a sassy profile pic – what catches my attention is a resume that is well typeset, clean and concise.”

 

It is also important to create a resume that efficiently conveys who you are and what you have to offer. “Resumes serve an essential function: to tell the story of your experience and training,” says Vanessa. “But it’s important to show who you are beyond graphic design – what you love to do, what moves you.”

 

Other tips for crafting a strong resume:

  • Demonstrate your abilities with a focus on the position you’re applying for
  • Highlight strengths and back them up with training and experience
  • Double and triple check for errors in spelling, grammar or formatting
  • Establish your brand and what makes you unique

 

2. The Cover Letter

 

Industry experts agree that a strong cover letter is an important part of getting hired and it should be crafted with the same amount of care as resumes and portfolios.

 

Philip points out that cover letters can often become the deciding factor for a potential interview.  “A good cover letter conveys your strengths and explains why these matter to the employer. Give me a good reason why I should meet you in person.”

 

Jennifer agrees that cover letters are a great way to send a more targeted message. “Resumes are factual, but cover letters are an opportunity to really engage an employer.”

 

It is important to keep cover letters clear, concise and error-free. “As with all written communication, it is imperative not to have any typos,” says Stussy. He recommends in addition to using spell-check, having someone else review the letter before you send it.

 

Marko recommends approaching a cover letter as an executive summary. “Explain in a few sentences why you are applying and what the employer should be focused on in terms of your expertise – keep it simple and to the point.”

 

Other tips for developing an effective cover letter:

  • Target your letter to the company where you’re applying, explain why you’d be a good fit
  • Be sincere and avoid ‘form’ letters
  • Let your personality and enthusiasm show
  • Reinforce a strong understanding of the roles and responsibilities of the position

 

3. Getting in Touch

 

Our industry experts had mixed opinions on the process of submitting applications and following up with potential employers. Some recommend reaching out with a printed piece, while others advocate an email-based approach, but all agree that understanding the company is key.

 

Catherine recommends doing some research before determining the next step. “Candidates who take the time to learn more about the company and find avenues through which to connect will not go unnoticed. This demonstrates your interest, perseverance and resourcefulness.”

 

According to Stussy, following up is always a good idea. “Designers tend to be very busy and they may just forget to get back to you. The follow-up shows you are truly interested in this particular job.”

 

Other tips for the application process:

  • Find out the right person to get in touch with
  • Keep files organized and easy to access whether sending electronically or mailing a physical copy
  • Leave a good impression – say thank you and invite further contact (i.e. LinkedIn connections)

 

Conclusion:

 

Applying for a job in the creative industry requires more than just outlining your skills and experience – it’s about how you present yourself throughout the application process. From the initial contact to the interview to the follow-up, employers are looking for attention to detail, creativity, enthusiasm and a clear message that you are the right fit for the job.

 

For related reading, see: 10 RGD Professionals Weigh in on the Future of the Design Industry and RGD Professionals Discuss the Dos and Dont's of Portfolio Creation & Presentation

If you are a professional RGD Member interested in submitting comments for future articles of this nature, contact