How do I apply for a design job…? Tips from a designer. Part 1.

Applying for a design job can be a big task when your starting out!
We have put together some tips to help students, grads or anyone trying to get themselves out there in the design industry.


When I was starting my design career I had a strong focus on getting as much experience and industry advice so I could land that dream job. Safe to say it’s a tough industry to get into when your starting out and landing a design job can be hard. As my experience has grown and I am now on the other side, filtering applications I wanted to share some tips and tricks from my experience and advice from others….

I will be writing a three-part series on my tips and tricks for landing a design role* which I have broken down into three sections:

Part 1 – Before you apply
Part 2 – Your application
Part 3 – So I got an interview

 *role not guaranteed.

Looking at what you need to have ready before you apply for roles can seem pretty basic but there is a lot of work that goes into getting your folio ready. I have kept it simple with some tips and things to consider…

Prepare your folio

There is an expectation that you have a certain level of skill and ability. This is shown in many different ways. We look for design fundamentals, your use of colour, your understanding of typography and layout and of course the quality of your work and ideas. No pressure

One of the biggest challenges is getting your ideas to match with your aesthetic execution.  Don’t worry too much, as a grad this is expected to be something in development… but if you can communicate your ideas through design this will certainly put you ahead of the rest. 


  • Create a PDF folio, no studio has time to trawl through your website alone, a PDF means we can scan work and your ideas very quickly. Don’t make the process any harder or time consuming for us.
  • Best projects first, in the middle and last. Quality over quantity. 5-10 projects are fine.
  • Make sure you have some information to explain the purpose, ideas or process, or all of the above. Not too much information please. As clear as possible. Check grammar.
  • Present your work in context. Sell you work through your presentation; this will help show your ideas without making anyone read two pages of text. If it’s a branding piece show the brand on its own and clearly, then the roll out of applications.
  • Understand your image sizes and quality. Even though you will need to export Low Res your folio should not be pixelated. When exporting from InDesign you can change the image quality and still save a compressed file… Toggle with this until you get the right quality and an overall file size your happy with or meets the employers request.

If you want some more tips regarding what to put in your folio you can find some great tips here.

Create an online presence


There is no excuse not to have some form of online presence in this day and age. Whether it be a website, social, LinkedIn, Behance etc.


  • If you don’t have time to get up a website (which is not really an excuse) set up a Behance.
    Behance works really well as you can document projects from sketches to final art in a really easy way…. Great for grads.
  • There are so many online tools out there now that require no coding that are ideal for setting up portfolios so do yourself a favour, choose one and set something up.
  • Set up a professional email address and email signature. just doesn’t look great. Or professional… and let’s be honest it’s probably referencing a time you would rather forget, so move on…get yourself a proper email… Gmail is free, set one up.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile. Connect and create a network. No brainer… plus you can stalk studios and employees in a totally (non) creepy way.
  • Make sure all your contact details and names are consistent across all platforms. This also works for social media platforms if you are setting up new accounts.
  • Make it clear and easy for people to find you online. 

Portfolio links to check out. Squarespace Semplice Wix WordPress Tumblr Cargo Collective Format Adobe Portfolio Bechance The Loop

Make sure your CV is up to date and proof’d… See what I did there?

The old Curriculum Vitae…. this one is tricky as everyone has their own opinion… but when in doubt… keep it simple, clear and easy to read. Typographically it should shine and show some skill but also restraint… think of it as your opportunity to show your more corporate, professional typesetting skills…. but still with a bit of personality. NO MORE ADOBE SUITE INFOGRAPHS PLEASE. Not sure if every uni tells you to do this but they do nothing for you, you are a grad – you’re not going to be the best at any program……YET. That’s why your applying for a job and that is more than ok!   


  • Keep it simple and clear
  • Make sure it’s in chronological order so we can see what you have been doing most recently. Make it relevant, we don’t need to see that you worked at Maccas 8 years ago.
  • A little summary intro about yourself can really help, your personality (outside design) and your experience e.g. “I am a mid-weight designer with four years’ experience” or a “recent graduate of Swinburne University”. This makes it clear and we immediately know your level…this can also help if there is more than one job position that is being interviewed for.
  • Make sure we can read it. Don’t send a jpeg. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be sending a PDF. If we get a jpeg we are going to assume you are creating it in Photoshop and type layout in Photoshop is not gona’ help you land a gig.
  • Avoid phrases like – I am passionate about all things design… because we assume you are; you are a designer. We are excited about who you are outside design and what makes you tick.

That’s the first round of tips to get you started…. I will follow up with my tips on part 2: Your application next post.

Image credits
Top image – Selection of studio’s work photographed but the talented by Foliolio
Digital image – Selection of portfolios using Semplice

Merren Spink
Design Creative

Merren is a member of the design team with Truly Deeply, a  brand agency with 25 years experience working with brands to position them for growth. Her expertise lies in creating strategically driven, beautiful and memorable brands that attract the attention of their audience. Merren has extensive experience working with corporate, retail, food & beverage and business clients. Find out more at…


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