Basics: Cover letter ( or message )
Writing a PERSONALISED cover message, detailing why this job interests you, why you think you’d be a good candidate and anything to indicate that you have thought about the application, will instantly put you ahead of 50% of applicants.
If you do not do this bit:
- How do we know that you’re REALLY interested in this job?
- How do we know that you have read and understood the job description?
- How do we know that you will be able to work here ( especially for people who do not currently live in the job location? )
Basics: Spelling / grammar on CV
Poor spelling and grammar gives indication that you do not care about details, do not know where or how to seek help and that you would need a lot of hand holding in the job. Of course many designers are not great spellers but with spell check software and friends / family / job center helpers available to check over your CV, there’s no real excuse for glaring mistakes such as this one I saw: “I pay great attention. to details.” ( accidental full stop in the ultimate location ).
Basics: CV should be easily scannable
Do not write large paragraphs on your CV, we do not have time to read them.
Use bullet points summarizing your duties and/or achievements.
Separate sections clearly and do not CRAM text in, this should be a given for any designer.
Portfolio basics: Say what you did!
Stating EXACTLY what you did on each piece is useful to the employer. Do not lie either, it will be obvious.
Do not worry about showing personal or educational projects if you lack commercial experience. We only want to see skills and potential. We also like to see ‘process’, so showing any research / development stuff such as sketches and moodboard type things impresses more than just polished final pieces.
Interview basics: Research the company
A shocking percentage of people did not really research our company, despite ALL the info you need to know being readily available online.
This should be the absolute minimum you do to prepare for an interview.
A couple of candidates did not check the address properly and were late due to confusion in this department. Always double check exactly how to get to the interview… ask for a phone number to call if you get lost en-route. Check the full name of the person interviewing you. Check the address and instructions on finding the location.
Interview basics: DO NOT LIE!
Any skill you say you had on your CV will probably be checked in interview. So if you say you are expert in HTML/CSS you may well be asked to prove it. If you are in the process of learning a skill, that is fine, just do not overstate it… and be prepared to summarize what you’ve learned. Write it down if needs be, do not be afraid to bring notes. They make you look organized and careful.