Field Guide — How to get a job

2 years ago by

Brought to you by DA’s partners Portfolio Recruitment

We’ve put together a few tips and thoughts for design graduates, based on our experience dealing with design agencies and with grads.

Have a great CV and portfolio

  • But be honest and don’t oversell yourself. For example, we sometimes have junior designer or graduates who call themselves strategists on their CV.
  • Call yourself what you are; a junior designer, and instead express your interest in strategy somewhere else.
  • Don’t apply for jobs which you don’t have the relevant experience or skills for
  • You will just be wasting your own time and the time of the people you are sending your work to.

Name your CV and portfolio correctly

Don’t call the document something  like CV_Version3.pdf.
Instead use the format: Homer Simpson CV 2016.pdf. This makes it easier to search for after a time.


  • Keep up to date with current design trends and with what agencies are doing. Get involved and attend design meet ups.
  • Another thing to remember is that while there are some amazing and well known award winning studios out there, everyone wants to work for them. There are some incredible studios producing amazing work that you may never have heard of. Hunt them out, research who they are. They are less likely to have been bombarded by loads of graduate CVs.
  • The NZ design market is relatively small and competitive, and there are almost 1000 graduates every year. So you need to be smart, slick, flexible, open minded and prepared to work hard and start from the bottom. Be humble, even if you were top of your class at design school, you need to be prepared to do the hard yards when you get out into the real world. Understand that art working is a valuable skill and knowledge or understanding of pre-press is a bonus, even in this digital world.


But how do you get a job?

Put all of the above into play. When you contact studios, research, find out who the best person to send your details to is. And don’t forget that person may be seeing a lot of other CVs and Portfolios. So you’ll need to stand out.

Send a CV and portfolio in PDF format, or a website portfolio. In your email, write a bit about yourself but not your life story. Keep it simple and precise but interesting. Some creative directors we’ve spoken to have had juniors follow up by sending them something physical, a sample portfolio, or something to get their attention. Some of these worked really well, others not so – perhaps they were too much! So again, be smart. Know your audience. They are busy people. We are always surprised at how many junior designers contact us with just a CV. No portfolio or web link and few if any words of introduction. Just an attachment to an email. This is your moment, when that email is opened, to make a good impact.

It’s tricky and there isn’t one answer. If you’re good, it will show in your portfolio and your attitude (your good attitude). It is always exciting to see the amazing talent that comes out of NZs design degrees. The naturally talented and genuinely driven will always stand out.


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