Let me tell you a secret.
You can easily impress an employer.
Just work a little more on your presentation.
The most important factor while applying for a job is not what information you present, but HOW you present it. And this is the most neglected aspect too.
It amazes me why designers do not invest a little time on making their application better.
The way you present your information can get you on top of other applications so easily.
Honestly, I have always wished someone would apply with a creative application and higher salary demand. But the moment I see that readymade cover letters and CVs, they are below average for me. 99% of them most the time.
So, with my years of experiences, here are some of the easy tricks I’ve compiled that you can use while applying for your next web design vacancy (Probably works for any IT job I hope) :
1. No readymade CV. Please!
Never use the readymade CV template. Use either a very simple plain CV, or a creatively designed one. But you don’t have to include the age-old template that includes: professional statement, education, experience, trainings, reference & contact detail.
Seriously, who gives a damn whether you are married or a single? duh!
Just include what’s required. Curate your CV based on the job you are applying. I seriously don’t want to know your SLC score in your web-design application. Include information that adds value to your web design career. Highlight your career-peak points, your creativity, artworks, projects, your skills, professional achievements. Write down where and how you learned web design. If you are a self-taught designer ( mostly in Nepal’s case ), mention it with pride. That what matters more than your first division graduation.
2. Personal website
This one should be the obvious one, isn’t it? I still don’t understand why having a personal website is so difficult for our creative people. Having a personal website is the easiest and best option to level up your chance. I would like to get your whole information in your website rather than the templatic CV. I mean it.
I always start shortlisting applications by checking if there is any portfolio.
No portfolio = Move to trash.
( Some might be thinking about the same old pathetic complain: How to get portfolio, without having a job? If you are one of them, you should first read my article on how to start your web design career, here )
So, what should be in the portfolio? Obviously, the designs you have made for professional clients, or your agency’s clients. Not necessarily. Your portfolio can be so much varied, interesting and impressive than that.
In my whole employment career, I have wished so much to see following things apart from the client-works in applicants’ portfolio, which happens, rarely.
a. Personal projects / Side projects / Hobby projects
Examples: designs you have made to learn photoshop effects, wallpapers you made of your favorite band, illustrations you made just for fun, designs you made for your side projects etc.
b. Offline works
Examples: your drawings/sketches, your room decoration, wall hangings you made, graffitis/murals/calligraphy etc.
c. Profile in popular design portals
Examples: Dribbble, Bēhance etc.
Examples: Photography, Music etc.
These works show your passion, creativity, dedications, commitments & hard work.
Always list down the best works only, go for quality, not the quantity. If you put 15 links, the employer might click randomly 2 of them and that might be your least good ones. So, it’s better to put 3 best links than 15 averages.
Common is boring. Mainstream is expected.
Present something unexpected. Present awesomeness.
4. Extra activities
Unlike commonly perceived, employers would love to hire a designer who is not only a workaholic, but also an enthusiast person who balances work and life. Employers always want someone who can add extra knowledge, fun and other activities in the work culture.
So, let them know some of your activities like:
also mention blogs you follow regularly.
also mention books you have read (books related to profession would be best).
If you have a blog related to web/design/IT, that alone can present your expertise level. You can manage a blog with even one post a month, to get started. Your articles don’t have to be perfect, just start sharing what you know.
5. Know the company
I have encountered many applicants who wouldn’t know our company’s name properly during the interview. What could piss me off more? So do your research, mention why you like to join the company. Praising the company a bit would definitely make the employers happy.
6. Finally, a cover letter
Cover letter is your chance to make a good first impression.
Again, please do not use readymade cover letters. Don’t use googled-unnecessarily-corporate-heavy-englished letters. Personalize your letter. Simple language, real facts, straight to the point.
What to include in the cover letter, (as short as possible):
Your skills, expertise, passion.
About the job
Mention about the company you are applying for, at least once & if appropriate, why you like them. Show that you have researched.
Address specific person ( if applicable ), it makes the letter less like a template.
Make it clear which position you are applying for. And emphasize your skills accordingly. Don’t exaggerate about your basic knowledge on PHP, oracle, cisco etc if you are applying for a designer.
Explain what can be expected of you.
Short and strong closure with a mix of humbleness, confidence and attitude.
Cover Letters – Things to remember:
Should not be more than one page.
Double check Grammar and spellings.
Separate the content in paragraphs.
Documents – Etiquettes:
File type: .pdf
File name: Simply your name “Ram-Kumar-Thapa.pdf” not “CV_final_final_august.pdf”
Test how it looks as printed.
Proper hyperlinks on emails/urls.
Don’t meet the expectations, Exceed them.
P.S. If you follow all of above tips, raise your expected salary amount at least double.