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How to Prepare for an Entry-Level Graphic Design Job

by | Jan 28, 2021 | Productivity

A graphic designer turns ideas into visual designs. They construct posters, billboards, logos, magazine layouts, social media graphics, motion graphics, marketing materials, and videos.

Not only do graphic designers do the designing, but they have to explain why they did those designs. 

Most graphic designers will major in graphic design and realize their passion for it. Many work in and major in related fields like digital marketing, journalism, and social media.

For an entry-level full-time position, a graphic designer makes around $39,000. The median salary is $52,110 in 2019. 

Stack of books that read "Why Fonts Matter", "Know Your Onions: Graphic Design" and "Know Your Onions: Web Design"
Photo by Jeroen den Otter on Unsplash

The most important digital design skill is knowing the Adobe products, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, and After Effects. While there are other computer software options, these are the most used and most important. 

Other hard design skills to have are sketching, typography, and free-hand drawing.

The soft skills to have as a graphic designer are time management, problem-solving, collaboration, and research.

A graphic designer has to organize because they will need to gather information, do research, plan, and then use their creativity to make a design. 

Graphic designers have to be able to take criticism well because every mockup will have many many many revisions.

How to Find a Job in Graphic Design

Tablet with pen with designs on the screen.
Photo by Kerde Severin on Unsplash

The best way to start is by getting a degree. An associate’s degree in graphic design or something related is cost-effective but can limit your jobs. A Bachelor’s degree in a related field is a wise decision. 

Do factor in the fact that graphic design jobs are going down in demand, however, they will never disappear. Graphic design is great to supplement with other professions like marketing, healthcare, journalism, animator, and e-commerce.

While working on a degree, a graphic designer will need solid design experience and a good portfolio to showcase that experience. Start with an internship, freelance, or part-time job that is related. 

Many graphic designers are self-employed and operate freelance. But, there are many companies that hire full-time in-house graphic designers on the creative team for tasks like web design, video production, email campaigns, and email marketing.

Resume Tips for Graphic Designers

Hand holding a pen to paper.
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

A graphic designer is inherently creative, but a resume needs to pass the applicant tracking system (ATS) that sorts through applications. Therefore, a graphic design resume should focus on the substance of experience rather than design.

On your resume, use good action verbs such as “analyzed, authored, collaborated, composed, contributed, ignited, facilitated, spearheaded.”

To showcase your work, use a portfolio and website to link to on your resume.

Graphic designers should build a section in their resume on their portfolio. This area should have three to four succinct bullet points on what the portfolio goes through. Highlight different major projects like app design, web design, book design.

Portfolio and Websites for Graphic Design

Laptop with a website built on the screen.
Photo by Le Buzz on Unsplash

To showcase the best graphic design work, a graphic designer can create both a portfolio and a website. Some opt for one or the other but having both is optimal. 

To create a website, use software like WordPress and Wix. They offer upgrades for better features. Some go with a paid service right away such as Squarespace and Format. By building this website, it shows a graphic designer’s ability to be a web designer and utilize the website design software.

Some opt for more creative portfolios such as Pinterest boards to showcase their work, but others put it together in a pdf in Adobe InDesign or Canva.

Another form of showing off graphic design work is through LinkedIn. 

General tips for portfolios and websites are to use the best and most important work you have. Show and do not tell but also show the process. 

Preparing for a Graphic Design Job Interview and Common Questions 

Man writing on paper with a pen.
Photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

When going into an interview, a graphic designer should either bring paper copies of design materials, flash drives, or a computer. This is because an interviewer will want to see graphic designers work during the interview. A graphic designer should be prepared to walk a hiring manager or creative director through your portfolio. 

Common Interview Questions

  • Why did you choose graphic design as a profession? 
  • What types of multimedia do you work with?
  • Tell me about your creative process.
  • How do you work with other team members like project managers?
  • Tell me about a time you received hard feedback and how did you incorporate it?

For other general interview questions and how to answer them, read our blog post.

Following an interview that went well, the company will assign a take-home assignment to get an idea of what your work will be and your brand identity. This is a common practice in creative fields. 

Sites to Look for Graphic Design Jobs

Two feet on a sidewalk and the sidewalk has a design that says "Passion led us here"
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Dribble

Dribble is an independent community for designers and creative professionals. They offer both full-time and freelance project opportunities. Along with the job posting board, they offer resources such as workshops with top designers. 

Flexjob

Flexjob has Remote jobs both in the pandemic and full-time remote. Part-time jobs, temporary, flexible jobs. Entry-level option to filter by

AIGA Designs

The Professional Association for Design is a job posting platform for professional, freelancer, and pro bono work. It offers the ability to filter by experience; junior, middle, senior, executive. 

For more knowledge on entry-level jobs, especially in cities like New York City, visit Scholars’ website and listen to the podcast!

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Join The Community

Want early access to insights, content, and news about your dream employer? Join our community! We send one email per week so we won't clutter your inbox.

Congrats! You've taken the step to gain early access to information about your dream employers.

The Report Card: January 2021

Download this month's employer branding report to keep your company up to date.

Enjoy the news!

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