We are told “not to judge a book by it’s cover” but we do it all the time, none the less.
I am the Studio Manager for the Creatives Department of the Ladbrokes Coral Group in Manila, responsible for the provision of creative services including overseeing the delivery and execution of creative requests across the business globally. Last week I posted a call out for Graphic Artists in my Facebook account, asking those interested to send their resume and portfolio to my email address. To date, I’ve received over 300 applications (and they’re still coming) but I’ve shortlisted only 40 people out of this number.
Don’t get me wrong: a lot of those submissions were impressive bodies of work.
The problem however, was that a big chunk of those applications were not packaged professionally enough. Believe me when I say that how you put together your submissions greatly affects your odds of being shortlisted, much less being hired. One would assume that the applicants simply can’t be bothered to come up with a slick submission but I’d like to think that this is not the case (usually).
If I had to guess, I would say that they just didn’t know any better.
I’ve been working as a Creative Manager for more than 11 years and have received hundreds of submissions during that time. Let me share some tips on how you can improve your submissions and increase your changes of getting that job.
The Cover Letter
Also known as an application letter, the cover letter is sent with your resume and portfolio to provide additional information on your skills and experience, as well as make a case on why you’re the perfect person for the job being advertised. A lot of the submissions I received didn’t have a cover letter which was a big mistake and a missed opportunity.
Do not, under any circumstance, use a template cover letter (most Hiring Managers see through them in an instant and will not paint a very flattering picture of you). Instead, customize yours for the job you’re applying for, highlighting information they provided and connecting them to your experience and qualifications to show that you took the time to read the job description.
You can find more tips on writing a cover letter here.
A well laid-out resume will get you noticed but a creative one will put you on the map (you are applying as a Graphic Designer after all).
Include links to your Social Media accounts if you want but make sure they’re presentable. If all a Hiring Manager is going to see there is drama and inappropriate content, it’s best not to include it.
Send your resume either as a Word Doc or as a PDF, not as an image file (e.g., JPEG, TIFF).
I discuss more in detail about building a kick-ass resume in a previous article which you can read here.
A portfolio is a collection of your best work organized in a single document and optimized for screen viewing (minimum of 72 DPI and a maximum of 150 DPI, PDF works best), ideally 10-15 pages long. Do not zip your files as IT restrictions might prevent your file from being delivered. If possible, keep the file size under 20 MB.
Make sure your first and last piece is your most impressive stuff because that’s all a reviewer remembers most of the time. Don’t include everything but make sure you have enough (2-4 items might give the impression that you’re not equal to the position being advertised). You can use online platforms that provide professional portfolio hosting such as Behance and Coroflot.
Make sure to proofread and double check (heck, triple check it while you’re at it) your cover letter, resume, and portfolio before sending it off. This is going to be your potential employer’s first impression of you and you want to make sure you put your best foot forward. If this is not your strong suit, ask a friend to help you out (second pair of eyes and all that).
One thing to remember though, while this is all designed to put you and your work in a positive light, it is also meant to make the Hiring Manager’s job a lot easier (because organized submissions are a joy to review).
If you can do that you’re sure to stand out, be remembered, and hopefully shortlisted.