Turn Yourself into a Favorite Candidate for a Graphic Designer’s Position

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What Do Employers Look For When Hiring a Graphic Designer

Graphic designers are very much in demand nowadays. Almost every company and business takes help from the graphic designers (either employed or freelancers) in designing their communication the best way possible. A graphic designer’s position keeps fluctuating in companies and they are often looking for graphic designers to fill those positions or work with them as freelancers. So when an employer is looking to hire graphic designers, he is looking for a certain skill set or characteristics.

There are some common attributes which I think all designers possess (or should possess). There is no exact, ideal or universal definition of an ideal graphic designer who can become an instant favorite for the employer. Graphic designers come from a variety of backgrounds, from all ethnic groups and from diverse locations. So their tastes and styles differ from other designers too. However, some general characteristics may include creativity, openness to new ideas and a desire to explore the visual world. The general attributes are relatively more important than specific traits or qualities.

No matter what job you are applying for there are certain job prerequisites that are usually common to all job position openings. I have summed up the following important things which an employer looks for when hiring a graphic designer. If you are having an upcoming interview at a design firm or being hired as a freelance graphic designer, you may need to pay heed to the following so as to make yourself suitable for the job.

Your business cards and other items in your portfolio, like postcards must look sharp and show off your design skills.

Most Sought-After Attributes of Graphic Designers

Attributes-of-Graphic-Designers

To land any job you need a certain skill set and talent necessary to fill the job requirements. Similarly, for the job of graphic designer, there are two types of skill set employers try to find in a candidate i.e. the ‘Hard Skills’ and ‘Soft Skills’.

The hard skills are related to your career training, proficiency and expertise in the field of graphic designing. The soft skill sets have to do with certain personality traits required in your professional life such as working under pressure, teamwork and behavioral attributes etc. Also, you should be familiar with Advertisements, Web sites, Posters, Packaging, Catalogs, Brochures, Postcards, T-Shirts, Post cards, Web banners, E-mail blasts, Web banner ads, Newsletters, Invitations, Banners and Signage etc.

Computer Designing Skills

Computer-Designing-Skills

With new levels of technology emerging day by day, graphic design tools have also experienced a great deal of change in the last decade with the advent of computer graphic assisted design. No matter how big or small a designing firm or company is, mere pencil drawing and sketching skill don’t work nowadays.

You will certainly be required to work on computers. Also, when you are seeking a job, only the ‘know-how’ does not work. You need to be expert and speedy on the computer. Moreover, it is pretty obvious that by computer skills I mean the graphics software (Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, Freehand, Adobe Illustrator etc). Nevertheless of the platform (Mac or PC), good working knowledge of graphic design software and hardware is essential to any graphic designer’s creativity and production skills.

Print Production Skills

Print-Production-Skills

Printing is deeply associated with designing. Almost everything that is designed, for corporate communication purposes, goes to printing. So one of the most sought-after skills employers seek in designers is an understanding of digital print production. Print design requires an understanding of print layout software (like Adobe, InDesign, or Quark Express) as well as concepts like color separations, grid layout, and master pages etc.

Thorough knowledge of the printing process is also a MUST. The most basic printing knowledge involves an understanding of color space. Ofcourse, you would not be required knowing how to operate a printing press, however being familiar with the process helps you make the vendor understand your employer’s requirement well.

Communication Skills

Communication-Skills

Effective communication skill is a mix of soft and hard skill set, and is a basic requirement for almost every job nowadays. Similarly, graphic designers should be able to communicate effectively and clearly in their designing as well as writing and speech in order to land a job. This aspect of design work is frequently underestimated. A graphic designer must have the ability to use words clearly and persuasively which are relevant to his design work and that’s what employers seek in them when hiring for their company.

Education

Education

Apart from the experience, most employers often look into the candidate’s educational background as well. Although in case of a very well-experienced graphic designer, education is often over-looked; however, in most cases a bachelor’s degree is required for entry level positions in graphic design. The level of your qualification depends on the type of job you are applying for. A diploma certificate can work well if you are seeking a job as an assistant to graphic designers or for graphic design work that is more technical in nature. For a position higher than that a university degree is what you should have.

Creative Thinking

Creative-Thinking

An imperative asset skill for a graphic design artist is their ability to think out-of-the-box, or in other words ‘think creatively’, the ability to create something out of nothing and turn mere pictures into sellable items. A graphic designer should be lucid about discovering and producing the picture that other people are trying to express with words and desire. The picture may not always be clear at first, but this is where creativity stands out.

Employers, when hiring a graphic designer, are fascinated with the candidates that are good at thinking creatively.  They tend to ask some questions or put them in a test that might vouch for their creative sense, and the ones who pass such tests are the one who nail the job.

Portfolio Presentation

Portfolio-Presentation

One of the most valuable resources available to a job seeking graphic designer is a Professional Portfolio Presentation. This aspect of the professional life is often passed over, or even ignored by most of graphic designers. Typically, designers think that a portfolio is for the people who have an experience of over 10 years in the particular career field, and do not consider worthy of flaunting their accomplishments with such a bold statement.

However, consider that even your smallest personal accomplishments are the contents that your professional portfolio is built upon. A professional portfolio is the summary of every milestone and accomplishment you have been receiving in your life as a designer.

Your portfolio is the first opportunity you have to introduce yourself to the employer, indicates your value, portrays your experience and serve as an asset to intrigue prospective employers and leave a lasting impression. If well designed, the portfolio will be the most refreshing part of the interview process to panel members. So it is better that you start to build your portfolio now, and watch it grow along with you as you progress in your career field.

Additional Skills

Apart from the conventional graphic designing skills, it is better to have one or more than one of the following additional skills just to add cherry to the cake.

Web Designing

web-design

Web design is probably the most valuable additional skill to have as a graphic designer. It will increase your prospects for the potential employer every company and organization has a website. So if you will be well-versed with the web designing skills as well, you can become an instant favorite for the employer and even ask for a better value for your services. Being fluent in web design will make you much more attractive to potential employers who are looking to cut costs by finding multi-talented designers.

Illustration

illustration-art

Graphic designers often have backgrounds in fine art such as drawing and illustration, but end up putting their focus on commercial graphic designing. Keeping your illustration skills sharp or becoming a better illustrator will allow you to create more creative designs, do freelance illustration work and even sell stock illustrations online! Plus you can be attractive to the employer as a money-saver when he will not have to hire a separate illustrator for his company.

Photography

photography

If you wish to be perceived as an all-rounder graphic designer, having photographic skills are must to have. When you step into the professional world of graphic designing, sooner or later you will need to do photography. If you are fortunate enough to work for a company which supplies you with a camera, then you better utilize it and let the employer know that you can go an extra mile for his job.

Most of you most have most of the skills mentioned in this post. However, it is always good to have a refresher. Next time you are lined up for a job interview remember these points and nail the job confidently!

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About the Author

Arfa Mirza is a EuroPakistani and a graduate of Media Studies. Writing is both, her passion and profession. She is big fan of world cultures and is the proud co-founder of dzineblog360 and webblog360, alongwith her husband.

Comments and Discussions

  1. Laura Meider, 16 September 2010

    As a graphic designer you have to be willing to explore new paths, I think it is always a good idea to use tutorials to help you learn new things, whether it be a new background effect or more specific like a piece of coding for web design.

    If you show you are enthusiastic, willing to learn, have good communication skills and even more so a good attitude towards your work then you have a good ground to start off on.

    I think the more you have under your belt the better as it makes you mow employable especially under the current climate structure.

  2. Carrol Capers, 16 September 2010

    A goal without a plan is just a wish imo

  3. Endigo Montoya, 16 September 2010

    Talk about a perfect article at the perfect time! Thx a million, 22 year career here, looking for a new place to call home. Your article has helped me immensely, thx!

  4. Paromita, 27 September 2010

    Very CREATIVE.Good one.

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