The Good Graduate Guide - Part Five
Listen and Learn
Tip Five: Draw positives not negatives
There is no denying that when you’ve poured your heart and soul into your application, portfolio and interview, being knocked back can feel very deflating. But it’s how you react to and learn from these experiences that will help you develop, grow and ultimately land the job of your dreams.
Don’t be afraid to ask for constructive feedback and when you get it, make sure you listen and learn. Knowing what you’re good at is an asset. Knowing what you’re not so good at is invaluable.
What if it’s your work?
It’s no great secret that creatives can be particularly precious about our work, (we put blood, sweat and tears into it afterall!). As a result, there can be an instinctive tendency to take it as a personal slight if it comes under criticism. But, if you want to be a successful designer, you have to prepare yourself for the fact that not everyone will like all of your work all of the time. You’re going to need a thick skin.
Ask the company to provide some comments on what they felt the strengths and weaknesses were within your portfolio and then do your best to act on them. If they say your typography was excellent but you need to work on your illustration skills, then go away and do just that.
It’s also worth remembering that if feedback suggests that your portfolio isn’t quite right for the employer, that doesn’t mean you’re a terrible designer, it could just mean that you came up against someone who had more experience designing for a particular market or channel. If that’s the case, revisit your portfolio on a case-by-case basis and try to align it with the kind of work the company you’re applying to does a lot of.
Worse… what if it’s me?
So what if the company tells says you had a fantastic portfolio but you still don’t get the job. What if they don’t think you’re a good ‘fit’ for the business. Does that mean there is…wait for it…something wrong with you personally? In a word, NO.
When you have a business, it’s important to have a good mix of people in your team. A combination of people with different skills, experience and strengths can help bring the best out in everyone, and of course help the business achieve great things. Just because you’re unsuccessful, that doesn’t mean that the company didn’t like you, it may just mean that they’ve recently recruited someone with a very similar skill set.
And remember, interviews are daunting for everyone. No employer is deliberately going to set out to catch you out or make you say or do something silly (and if they do, would you really want to work for them?). Chances are they’re actually willing you on and WANT you to do well. They wouldn’t be interviewing you if they didn’t.
Interviewers will make allowances for nerves, but if you lack confidence, try to rehearse how you present your work in advance. You don’t have to be an amazing public speaker, just do your best to do your work, and yourself, justice.
Work on your communication skills, just because you’ll be working on a computer, don’t be tempted to hide behind it. Designers are communicators after all, so it’s time to start communicating.
A final note…
Remember it’s not just about the agency thinking you’re right for them, but whether you think they’re right for you too. You want to be a part of a team where you can learn and develop, while enjoying yourself in the process. So take your time. Don’t rush into taking the first job offer if your instincts tell you it’s not right for you. You’re going to spend a lot of time at work…