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How do I get an interview at a design agency?

How do I get an interview at a design agency?

Are you a graduate designer trying to decide what to do next with your design qualification? Well, there are of course hundreds of potential options so here are some top tips for (hopefully) getting an interview!

Think about yourself from an external point of view    

Imagine you are the recruiter, ask what sort of person they are looking for, do I meet these requirements? How would I like to receive the application/email?

Don’t send a blanket CV, portfolio and application letter

It doesn’t take too long to find out who the person is you address your letter/email to. And if it really is impossible, at least address it to the company you are applying to.


Research design agencies and the type of work they do    

Every design agency has a slightly different focus and specialism and client base. You probably won’t know exactly what type of design agency you want to go to yet but having a good look around will give you an idea of the different areas of the industry you might like. And during your research, you will also get a better picture of the different skills and requirements agencies like to see in your application.


Tailor your CV and portfolio to suit these different styles of design agencies    

You may end up having three or four different versions of the same kind of work but tailored slightly differently. For example, if you are applying to us put your best and most relevant editorial samples at the front of your portfolio. If you’re applying to a marketing agency, put your logo and branding work at the front.


How to send your portfolio   

Most designers have an online portfolio, which is fantastic, especially as it shows recruiters you have technical skills in digital software. However, it’s also worth making your portfolio available as a PDF (or downloadable from your site) so that you demonstrate your ability to select your work, present it in an orderly and beautifully designed way.


Brand your CV and portfolio consistently   

If you show that you have taken the time and have the ability to brand yourself consistently (also your branding on each page of your portfolio) you will definitely stand out as one of the better designers. It also makes it easier to see which work belongs to you when we lay out all of the portfolios at the selection stage.


The importance of your CV    

So many designers still send us their CV in Word. As a design agency, this is one of our biggest bugbears! If you’re telling us you are a creative designer and know how to use industry-standard software you MUST demonstrate this in your CV. If you don’t have access to or own a copy of InDesign you can download a free trial from Adobe! If you need some creative help, take a look at this Pinterest page on Creative CVs.


What to put on your CV   

Highlight modules or work experiences that are particularly relevant to the agency you’re applying to. In the publishing industry, you might want to emphasise work experience in editorial design/weekend courses in typography as a bigger emphasis than perhaps a weeks work experience at a marketing agency. Like your portfolio, you may end up having a few different CVs which are tailored to different areas of the industry.



Application form   

We look for good English and no spelling mistakes (in your CV and application form). It doesn’t really matter how you fill out our form but it should look good. Same formatting, fonts and sizes.



If agencies are at your graduate show that means they genuinely want to hire in new talent, so talk to them. If they’re not at the show, give them a ring, or contact them on Twitter. They love hearing from potential new designers before a show. It shows initiative and that you’re serious about entering the world of work.


This blog was originally posted on the emc design in 2015.