How can not-so-recent grads land a design job?

Tweet your questions about how to land your dream design job—or just how to get your foot in the door—to our resident career expert @thegiantthinker. We’ll publish his answers here each month and keep the conversation going on Twitter @AIGAdesign.

How difficult is it to get a design job when you're not "fresh" out of university?—@ohkurlll

I would say that the difficulty is relative to your commitment and “hustle” threshold. I know that may seem super simplistic and borderline cliché, but regardless of the time period with which a person has graduated university is irrelevant. This is because design companies, studios, and communications agencies are all looking for not only technical competence, conceptual abilities, and the right attitude and cultural fit, but overall, they’re also looking for diversity.

In that context with a broad range of variables in their hiring criteria, it then becomes a case of how committed you are to the cause. Which involves a high level of patience, persistence, and perseverance.

Focus on these three strategies:

  1. Networking: Meet as many people as you can within the industry, online and offline. Build those relationships and create rapport. The saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” does carry a lot of weight in the design industry.

  2. Aim for mastery: Focus on continually developing your craft and design thinking. Your work will ultimately reflect your abilities and will speak for itself.

  3. Put a spotlight on your story: One of the most underestimated hiring qualities is our uniqueness, our identity, and our individuality. Leverage this. If you’re not “fresh” out of university, does this mean you’re well-traveled? Does this mean you’re a mother with kids? Does this mean you’ve done a massive career pivot? All good things. Highlight your story in every platform and touch point—on your blog, social media, LinkedIn profile, and definitely your interview conversations. This makes you different, and companies embrace diverse experiences. It translates into diverse design thinking and problem solving.

Trust in your abilities and know that no matter what industry, and no matter what life stage you’re in, you’ve got to start somewhere.

About the Author:

If you'd like to be a designer, read Ram's internationally industry acclaimed book here:


Ram is an award winning Design Director, Blogger, top ranking Podcaster, Speaker, Instructor and Author of the internationally acclaimed book 'How to get a job as a designer, guaranteed'. He's based in Sydney, Australia and in 2012, started the blog which helps thousands of design students and graduates be employed. Ram has since been featured in Communication Arts, HOW magazine, Herman Miller, deFrost*, and Apple. 


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