I had quite an enlightening experience these past few weeks. I found myself in the position of being placed in charge of hiring a designer and for the first time, I had to consider the other side of the job search process in my career.
Hiring a designer seems like it is a completely different process than hiring for any other position because I have immediate access to their work via portfolios and samples. I do not envy those who have to hire without such a great way to view a candidate's skill, knowledge, and breadth of experience.
I have learned a great deal and the process has led me to look at my own materials in a completely different light.
THE (DESIGNED) RESUME
Let's be honest, if you are a graphic designer and your resume is a Word document, you are shooting yourself in the foot. This piece that sums up all of yourself on one page (yes, one page) should be the highlight of your design. It shows hierarchy, organization, balance, and so much more. As a designer hiring a designer, if I had to, I would be able to make up my mind about you in 15 seconds based on your resume design. I'm not saying that's the best way to hire a designer, but like it or not, your mind leans one way or the other fairly quickly when presented with a stack of 100 applicants. A word of caution, however; putting effort into designing a good resume is not in adding crazy colors, fonts, or images. A Word doc resume is one end of the spectrum, and a resume with 5 fonts, full bleed, and neon colors is on the other.
THE EDUCATION SECTION
I was impressed with the amount of applicants who did not come from the traditional 4 year BFA program. I may be biased myself, as I did not come from that particular background, but applicants that came from a background in another industry, who them decided to pursue graphic design sometimes were just as good if not better than other traditional designers. I'm not knocking the BFA in design by any means, merely pointing out the design is ultimately being an interpreter, and unique backgrounds can yield a different type of design thinker. In the very end, one of my own top applicants had some schooling, but no degree.
THE ONLINE PORTFOLIO
By and large this is the portion that matters the most. Let me list a few obvious no brainers in regards to viewing 100 personal websites:
- If your website is not live or functioning, someone looking to hire you will most likely not reach out and inform you. You will be eliminated. Always be aware of your website's status.
- If you use another portfolio service such as Carbonmade or Behance, more often than not, it will not stand up to other 100% standalone portfolio websites. It comes off feeling like a half-ass solution, wether or not your work is amazing. Be sure to put the extra effort in.
- If you have a blog section, be sure it has at least a few postings and something more recent than a year ago. Otherwise, just get rid of it. (I'm still working on this one, myself).
You must remember the goal of your online portfolio is to be that, a portfolio. The website design should function well without needing to be figured out. It should be unobtrusive, because the point of the site is for showing your work.
In regard to posting your work, first off have high quality images. Low res photos and poorly rendered mockups speak very poorly. Chose only your best work, not all of your work. Include well written and thought-out descriptions. Do not just describe what is in the image, but what the project was, who it was for, the problem being solved, the process, the implementation, and the follow up. I spent about 1 minute on 80% of the sites, 5 minutes on 15%, and up to a half hour on 5% if there was amazing content.
THE GUT DECISION
After narrowing down my top applicants I stepped back and did some reflection on how I got to that point. What surprised me more than anything was that my decision on most people was not calculated one. Instead, my decisions were normally quick and in line with my gut reaction. I suppose I did not expect my hiring process to go that route but it is efficient and led to a group of memorable, talented candidates.
Overall, be sure to take a step back and try to look at all of your materials from a blank perspective. I'm currently doing so with my own materials, now that I have been on the other side of the process.