Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Landing That Dream Job: A Web Design Landing That Dream Job: A Web Design

When studying at University, it’s easy to forget about what you plan to do after you graduate and to just concentrate on the next piece of work that needs submitting for your course. However, planning ahead and working throughout your University course can help put you ahead of other graduates and save a ton of time playing catch-up after graduating.
Let’s take a look at some things every web design student should have ready when graduating.

Your Degree

First things first, you’ve got to knuckle down and get that all important degree to help open those doors to your dream job. Lets take a look at what elements make up that all important qualification.

Always remember, there's light at the end of the tunnel!

Good degree work

A lot of students can breeze through their University course, doing the minimum amount of work for those all important pass grades, but this does little to help you when graduating. Although some pieces of work you produce on your course may not be suitable to show potential employers, it’s imperative that you have some work to display in a portfolio when you leave (it’s even more important if you aren’t planning on doing any kind of freelance work whilst at University).
A lot of design courses help students find real life clients for their final projects, this is a fantastic opportunity to show potential employers that you can work on a ‘real’ project for ‘real’ clients and for a lot of graduates, will be the most important thing you’ll produce whilst at University.
If the work is of a good enough standard, this can also be presented in your portfolio.

Good degree grades

If you’re doing good work, then good grades will follow. Chances are, if an employer is asking for a potential employee to have a degree, their next question could be what grade you achieved. While it’s certainly better to have a degree behind you than not at all, a degree with a poor final mark can look poor on your resume and could really put potential employers off.
There has been a lot of debate around grades lately however, take a look at some interesting links:
Degree grades ‘should be replaced’ – Telegraph

Good degree attendance

University isn’t all about waking up at 1pm in time for your afternoon clan meeting on Call of Duty, it’s also about making sure you’re in class for important lectures and not missing vital learning time. There aren’t many students coming out of University with 100% attendance records but a decent attendance rate makes sure you aren’t missing a lot and can look impressive to employers should they ever ask.

Good degree attendance can help reinforce learning and impress employers

Your Portfolio

People say degrees open doors, if that’s true then I’d like to think that portfolios help you walk through them. In my opinion, there’s nothing more important to an employer than the work you produce and display on your portfolio.

Your website

Your portfolio website is the most important item you’ll take with you into any interview, it should contain your best work, display personality and show the viewer just how much you know about web design.
We’ve already spoke about using some University work in your portfolio, but chances are if you haven’t completed any freelance work during your time at University, there will only be one or two examples of work you’ve produced for actual clients. This can be a problem when it comes to applying for jobs as employers may be hesitant to hire graduates with minimal commercial experience.
This is why it’s always important to be doing as much work as possible in your spare time to help grow not just your portfolio, but also your skills as a designer and developer. While at University I created websites free of charge for friends and some small local businesses, while many people are against this type of free or ‘spec’ work, these types of projects can be invaluable to a design students future prospects.


Of course, it goes without saying that your website should reflect the type of work you’ve been creating for University and clients. There are no right or wrong ways to present your web portfolio, but lets take a look at some great examples of online portfolios.

Brian Hoff uses a great minimal design that really catches the eye

I'm a big fan of Daniel Guillans website. It's clean and gets the job done.

Oscar Barber has a really simple, textured design with all of the content at hand.


It’s not always possible to get some real clients on board your portfolio while at University, but any sign that you’ve completed work for even the smallest of clients can really impress potential employers.
How To Get Paid Freelance Work While You’re Still A Design Student
101 Ideas to Get More Freelance Work and Generate New Client Leads
How to Get Freelance Work with Twitter

Your first dealings with a 'real life' client can be daunting, but you'll benefit from the experience.

A Blog

With the ever expanding market of easy to access content management systems, starting and maintaining a blog has never been so easy. A blog can give you a space to discuss design topics that may not fit into your standard portfolio as well as give you a platform to showcase your work on a scale your portfolio may not offer.
Although you cant be expected to maintain a huge design blog while undertaking your degree, a few posts a month on certain design topics, such as the ones you’re covering in your modules for example, can give you a chance to showcase not just your work, but your understanding of the theories behind it.
Here are some great examples of designers that use their portfolio site together with a blog:

Chris Wallace uses his website as a hub for his portfolio work, blogging and WordPress themes.

Kyle Steed uses his website to showcase his work as well as video blogging his thoughts.

A Blog case study

A great example of someone using a blog as a platform to both showcase and attract work, is Jacob Cass of Just Creative Design. Jacob launched his blog in November 2007 and it has grown into one of the biggest and most well known personally run designs blogs on the Internet with over 20,000 subscribers.

Although Jacob is posting a little less lately, you should certainly subscribe to his feed.
Jacob, hailing from Australia, has used his blog as a platform to secure a full time position at a New York based design agency. This is a fantastic example of how a blog can open many doors for you if you’re prepared to put the work in.

A Résumé

Of course your design work is the most important thing for a web designer but what about your CV / résumé? A lot of graduates spend a ton of time making sure their online portfolio looks perfect, but often they will attach a standard word document or hastily created PDF to their email as an afterthought. This can instantly undo all of your hard work with some employers, so take time when creating anything you’ll pass onto potential employers.
So what should you look to include in your résumé? Well, of course put in your qualifications, relevant work experience (they don’t need to know about your paper round when you were 11) and a little about your hobbies. A résumé is supposed to act as a brief synopsis of what you’re about, so try not to overload the reader with too much information.
How to write a successful CV
You’re a designer, so why shouldn’t your résumé look as good as the work you produce! You can head on over to www.misterstevenson.com for a look at what some great designers came up with for a generic CV design. Lets take a look at some great résumé designs:

Christa has a really unique and clean design to her CV.

Julien incorporates some nice graphics into his CV design.

A really unique CV with a nice, high quality image.


Hopefully we’ve gone some way to giving students and graduates a helping hand in what they can use to help prepare themselves for life after University. Although all of the above will certainly help prepare graduates for future employment, there is no substitute for good work and ensuring you produce a high standard of work throughout University will give you the best possible platform in which to achieve everything you want to when you graduate.
Have we missed anything? If so let us know!

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