Getting the Job: Ask Aquent Webinar Recap

Editor’s note: This webinar recap article was developed by Aquent, AIGA’s official sponsor for professional development, as part of the “Ask Aquent” webinar series. Aquent recruiters are hosting live online 45-minute Q&A sessions each month to help respond to AIGA members’ most pressing career-related questions.

Let’s face it: Job hunting can seem pretty hopeless right now. The bad news is that you’re not alone—there are more applicants for fewer jobs. The good news is that your design skills are in demand—and that demand is growing along with emergent media technologies.

How do we know? We asked Aquent recruiter and agent Erika Oliver, who represents elite UX, interactive and front-end development talents from the Midwest to the Eastern Seaboard and matches them with contract and temp-to-perm job opportunities at Fortune 1000 companies. During the June 21, 2012 launch of AIGA’s “Ask Aquent” webinar series, Oliver offered solid advice to job seekers on how to stay proactive and avoid discouragement. Whether you’re looking for your first job or making a career transition, here are some of the key takeaways from her “Getting the Job” webinar, plus additional tips and resources:

Are you fresh out of school with a slim portfolio and résumé? Despite what job reports and downtrodden friends may say, this is a very workable situation. Here’s what you can do:

  • Working with a recruiter can help you identify what types of projects you want to work on and find entry-level positions where you can excel.
  • Finding a mentor and asking for an hour or two of career advice is a smart move. The best knowledge comes from others’ experience, and it may open the door to employment opportunities.
  • Joining LinkedIn groups and connecting with other members of the design community expands your network—and your chances of finding work.
  • Taking a “survival” job and offering your services at introductory rates to local businesses is a great way to make your portfolio robust. It may also result in your first full-time job.
  • Creating a list of action items to accomplish each day is another good strategy. Make sure you keep yourself to a strict “work schedule” even if you don’t have a full-time job. Remember: Looking for a job is a full-time job. Meet up with your friends and recreate only after your “workday” is done.

With the ever-changing nature of today’s in-demand skills and growth industries, many creatives are transitioning into entirely new careers. This is another instance in which partnering with a reputable staffing firm makes sense. A recruiter can help you take your current skills and experience to craft a résumé geared toward specific companies. Recruiters have inside knowledge of what their clients look for in candidates, which means better support for achieving your goals.

After you’ve taken these steps, you will eventually get an interview. When you do, keep the following tips in mind, as they may help you land the job:

  • Do your homework! Research the company and re-read the job position. It’s a good idea to print out (or save on your computer) a list of key points about the company and the position. Sure, the interview is about presenting your skills, but it’s also about the company finding the perfect fit. The more you know, the more it shows that you care where you work and who you work with.
  • Don’t be rude to the gatekeeper. You have no idea if someone is filling in for the receptionist and ends up in the room during your interview. No one wants to hire a diva, so don’t act like one. Divas cause too much drama in the workplace, and in this job market there’s likely to be someone else who matches your skills and experience—and the employer may choose them instead of you.
  • Send a thank-you email within 24 hours of your interview. It shows your interest in the position, especially if you reference specific points discussed during your meeting. Email each person you met. You can personalize the emails with details pertaining to what you liked about the creative work they’ve produced or how your work philosophy matches that of the company. This shows that you were listening to them and that you’re a good fit for their culture.
  • Snail-mail a thank-you note. Time it so that it arrives in three days. Again, it keeps you visible and shows that your interest in the position is high.
  • Follow up by email weekly, or every week and a half, until you get an answer. Your post-interview email, mailed note and weekly contact keep you top-of-mind, which can edge out the competition. These regular communications demonstrate your unwavering interest in the job.

One of the most frustrating challenges of a job search is not hearing anything at all. If you haven’t heard back in 30 to 60 days, drop back communications to once per month. If you still don’t get an answer, move on. You don’t know what’s going on “behind the scenes” at any business and—with smaller staffs and bigger workloads—the priority of the position may have been reduced. Indeed, before joining Aquent, Oliver found herself in this exact situation. She interviewed for a position and didn’t hear for three months. When she did, they offered her the job.

But wait, there’s more!

For more tips on the job market, check out these resources:
The 10 Best Jobs of 2012 (from U.S. News & World Report)
The Top 10 Fastest-Growing Industries in America (from TIME)

About this Webinar Series
Click here for more information about the “Ask Aquent” webinar series. If you missed the “Getting the job” webinar, you may view the entire broadcast here

About the Author: Aquent is the only global staffing company dedicated to creative, marketing and digital roles exclusively for Fortune 1000 companies. The world’s most renowned global brands come to Aquent for high-caliber freelance talent. Its new division, Vitamin T, provides small, mid-sized and ad agency clients with faster, easier access to in-demand interactive talent. Aquent and Vitamin T have built an impressive global network of marketing and creative services professionals, including print and interactive designers, UX designers and developers, copywriters, brand managers, market researchers, and more. As the Official AIGA Sponsor for Professional Development, Aquent serves as a source for creative and design talent and provides access to great career opportunities for AIGA members nationwide.