The other day I received an email to the Tridea inbox. It was a student in search of a job. Now, normally I don’t respond to these emails, because we’ve never looked at hiring, and are no longer in business, but this one I couldn’t ignore. This person needed help. Here is the original email, with the name removed:
Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my credentials for this position. I have been a dedicated Graphic Designer for over four years. Design is not only my career goal but also my lifestyle, education and passion. This opportunity would not only allow for my creative expression, but also my career advancement. I am motivated, creative, team oriented and individually resourceful. I am proficient in Adobe Creative Suite (CS4 Edition) and Microsoft Office. I am particularly experienced with Adobe InDesign and very interested in print design. I am looking for a professional position where I can grow as a designer and as an individual. I assure my employer that I will not only meet but surpass the expectations of my position. Due to my efficiency and professional perseverance, I am looking for a full time or part time position, with generous compensation and a benefits package. Both my resume and my portfolio link will be attached to this application. Please feel free to contact me at the number or email address listed below. Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to review my resume and portfolio.
I didn’t even know where to start. So I decided to not beat around the bush at all, and give her my dead honest opinion of what I thought of her cover letter/email and resume. I left her with a few solid tips on what she needed to do to improve herself before future employees would take her seriously. This is my response:
Hey [Name Removed],
Thanks for contacting Tridea. Unfortunately, we are no longer in business, we’ve just been late on taking down our site. But I’m responding to this email because I want to give you a few tips when searching for a position…
First off, without beating around the bush, your cover letter/email is bland and generic. You should always personalize your email. If you don’t have a name, do some work and find a name. It shows that you’ve done some work on your end, and makes the person feel that you are talking directly do them. The tone of your cover lever seems like you copy/paste that into every single company that you send this email out to. That’s not a good thing.
Second, along with personalizing every email, you need to tell these companies how they can benefit from you. In other words, what value do you provide them? Why should they hire you? You should mention this in your cover letter, and be prepared to answer it in interviews. If you can’t answer it, then maybe they shouldn’t hire you, right?
Third, your resume needs work. Prove that you’re a graphic designer, and put some work into designing a resume that sets you apart (visually) from others. Right now, it looks generic, and if I’m a company hiring, I won’t spend more than a couple seconds looking at this before I’m on to the next one. And the fact that you don’t have a ton of industry experience doesn’t help you, so that’s even more reason why the design of your resume should be badass.
Also, only list positions that matter. In other words, if they have nothing to do with the job you’re going after, get rid of it. It’s better to have a little information than too much info with fluff. So the cashier, customer support, data entry, and admin support…. get rid of it. Instead, maybe list out the freelance projects you did, and explain what you did with them.
Here is an example of my resume that you can look at, and hopefully it helps: http://www.jwphill.com/resume.pdf
Sorry if I’m being harsh, but I feel the need to help out fellow designers. And if you’re serious about getting a full time job in this industry, then you need to put in a little more work for yourself, and how you market yourself. Because if you don’t take the time to carefully market yourself, why should a company pay you to do theirs.
If you’re a student, or just looking for a creative job, put some work into yourself. Don’t half-ass your approach. Prove to your [potential] future employer that you care enough about your own professional presentation, that you’re worth investing in. Get creative with your cover letter, and definitely design your resume so that it doesn’t look like every other default design that probably gets shredded because it’s boring.
So why did I do this? Why not just archive the email and move on with life? Well, because I care. If I was a student, I would want to know how to better myself and my approach. This email made me wonder, “Is this what students are doing to get jobs?” This should not be a representation of current design students and the school that she’s coming out of. And because I love this industry, I want to do my part in helping others get into this industry, because it’s awesome.
So I hope these tips are useful to others, and I’d be glad to give more tips if interested. But don’t be like the example above when going after a job, unless you’re looking for an instant rejection.
About the Author
John Phillips is a user interface designer, creative thinker, and entrepreneur. He is very active on Twitter, as well as other places on the web like his blog, Tumblr, Facebook, Daily Booth, and more.