Sandstorm Student Center

Sandstorm Design launched the Sandstorm Student Center (SSC) in 2003 for students and working adults interested in learning more about marketing and web design firms and a career in the design industry. A totally free service, we invite you to ask us a question, review FAQs from students, and get advice on landing a job, internship or freelance assignment.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Graphic Design Job

The graphic design job search. Yuck. Because there are tons of books, articles, newsletters and publications out there for "how to find a graphic design job," I've decided to post the "do nots" which are real world mistakes that designers have made in their job search. There is no one way to get a job in graphic or web design. Industries are always changing, demands change, qualifications change, life changes.

This is my list of what NOT to do when you find your dream design job or dream design firm. A few simple rules may prevent your resume from going straight into a file, or worse, immediately into the trash. The follow DO NOTs really do happen...

What NOT TO DO when looking for a design job:


DO NOT email attachments of your design work if you are not asked to.
This means NO list of 10+ JPEGs of your work, no multipage PDF files of your work, and no attachments that are close to 1 meg or more. I got 5 MB worth of attachments from a student designer, and he sent it twice to make sure I got them all. What a job search mistake!

DO NOT email your resume every week. If a company or design firm is interested and has a design job available, they will call you. Sending your resume every week for a month or two will not help you ever.

DO NOT email your resume to every email address you find listed on the company web site.
This isn't a lottery. If a company is interested in accepting resumes or has a design job open, they will generally have an email set aside for it.

DO NOT email your resume without a note or cover letter in the message portion of the email. I won't ever open an attachment if I am not expecting one, let alone one from a random designer who didn't take the time to write me a personal message or tell me anything about themselves.

DO NOT call without having an idea what you want to say. We understand you are nervous, and it is tough to make the call, but practice first. You need to sound professional, this is our first impression of you. Also, don't demand a call back, if you leave a message, leave a time when YOU will call back. Most companies don't have time to call back designers, let alone take down your phone number, and your name, etc...

DO NOT email a resume that is 1 MB or more.
You'll clog up mailboxes. Better yet, your resume should be 250K or so... bonus points if it's smaller.

DO NOT call and just leave your name and phone number.
You won't fool most of us into calling you back, and even if you did, we wouldn't trust you anymore anyway!

DO NOT give up. Your dream design job may only be a resume away.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

How should a student write a resume if they've never had a design job before, especially if they're looking for an internship or entry level position?

I would make sure you designed the resume, not simply lay it out in word. Use your design skills to make it stand out, and give it some of your personality. In the objective, state that you are looking for an entry level or internship position and that you are very motivated to learn.

Sending out hundreds of resumes is one way to find a job. Another is to network. Get involved in your design community and get to know other local designers in your area. They may be the key to getting you into their company when a position becomes available.

Also, I mention this a lot, but volunteer to do some design work at your favorite non-profit. Non-profits have tons of print and web work that they need help with. This will help you get some real world experience that you can put on your resume. In addition, this really exemplifies your motivation!

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FAQ: What was your best day as a designer?

There is no single best day either, but the best days are when your client actually chooses the design concept that you felt was the best solution. It never fails, if you show a concept that you absolutely don't like, your client will be sure to pick it... every time.

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FAQ: What was your worst day as a designer?

There is no single worst day, but the worst days are when you notice that your final printed piece, after working on it for a month, has a spelling error that neither you, nor your client, nor your proofreader caught and it's in the headline. Your stomach drops, your heart races, and you realize how human you really are.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I was wondering how much drawing is involved in graphic design?

I think I will ease your mind and tell you that not all graphic designers can draw. Being able to draw may help from time to time, but it's not necessary to becoming a talented and successful designer. Understanding composition, color theory, typography, and the power of a line is what makes the difference.

Artists tend to gravitate towards graphic design because it's a possible career avenue that utilizes creativity. It's also possible that some of the very talented students (that can draw) may become illustrators in addition to designers.

So fear not -- you don't HAVE to be able to draw, it just might be helpful from time to time. And congrats on your decision to pursue graphic design!

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Sunday, December 3, 2006

What NOT TO DO when looking for a design job

DO NOT email attachments of your design work if you are not asked to. This means NO list of 10+ jpegs of your work, no multipage pdf files of your work, and no attachments that are close to 1 meg or more. I got 5 MB worth of attachments from a student designer, and he sent it twice to make sure I got them all. What a job search mistake!

DO NOT email your resume every week. If a company or design firm is interested and has a design job available, they will call you. Sending your resume every week for a month or two will not help you ever.

DO NOT email your resume to every email address you find listed on the company web site. This isn't a lottery. If a company is interested in accepting resumes or has a design job open, they will generally have an email set aside for it.

DO NOT email your resume without a note or cover letter in the message portion of the email. I won't ever open an attachment if I am not expecting one, let alone one from a random designer who didn't take the time to write me a personal message or tell me anything about themselves.

DO NOT call without having an idea what you want to say. We understand you are nervous, and it is tough to make the call, but practice first. You need to sound professional, this is our first impression of you. Also, don't demand a call back, if you leave a message, leave a time when YOU will call back. Most companies don't have time to call back designers, let alone take down your phone number, and your name, etc...

DO NOT email a resume that is 1 MB or more. You'll clog up mailboxes. Better yet, your resume should be 250K or so... bonus points if it's smaller.

DO NOT call and just leave your name and phone number. You won't fool most of us into calling you back, and even if you did, we wouldn't trust you anymore anyway!

DO NOT give up. Your dream design job may only be a resume away.

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