I read, I reply, and I forget. That’s what dealing with most emails from graphic designers, copywriters, and up-and-coming communication specialists looks like. They want to join our team and while I’m sure that they’re all great people with huge potential, they don’t seem to have a clue how to sell it. Five years ago we wrote on our website that you can only make a first impression once. I can’t do it for you but I can help you prepare for reaching out to us.
Communication errors and shortcomings are like a stone in your shoe. At first it’s no big deal but soon it starts to hurt so bad that you can barely walk. And you want to walk with us, right?
This post is not unlike a recipe. You’ve got a few ingredients – portfolio, resume, message and presentation of your own expectations. I will tell you how we’d like to consume them and you’ll mix them together in your own unique way. If the final dish is tasty, we’d love to try it again. And again, and again…
There’s a world of possibilities for freelancers
We like working remotely
Both with contractors and freelancers. You don’t have to move to Wrocław to work with us. Your work management skills and dependability are essential to our studio and we couldn’t do without them even if you were at our office.
You’re self-employed? Perfect!
You don’t need to sign long-term contracts to work with us. Stick with your own business and just send us invoices. We always pay on time, there’s nothing for you to worry about.
How to build a resume?
I assume that everyone who sends their job application to us takes into account that we will thoroughly read both the message and all attachments. The way your resume and portfolio are put together is a symbol of your attitude toward work quality as well as respect for recipients on the other side of the e-mail. Here are 8 tips that will help you prepare proper documents:
There’s really no point in glossing over your work. Look – we’ll most definitely ask you about details and grill about hobbies and skills. What if one of us shares your interest and knowledge on a certain subject? If we decide to work together, everyday talks will quickly verify your earlier assertions. We want to get to know you. Nobody else. Unusual hobbies, active lifestyle, intriguing worldview – it all matters but only when what you’re saying is real. If you’re interested in psychology, do you really mean that you like reading a column in ladies magazines? Or maybe your favorite sport is watching Netflix all day long? If you only glance at H&M new window exhibition on your way to work, don’t say on your resume that you follow fashion trends. Don’t write things only because other people do – you don’t have to. Be yourself and show us what’s really important for you.
Be honest about your experience
Do you know a phenomenon called the Kruger-Dunning Effect? Results of an experiment run by those two researchers show that participants were wrong in assessing their skills. You had probably noticed that unqualified people tend to exaggerate while qualified workers underestimate their skills and experience. Such observations apply to our industry, too. If you’re a beginner designer, you are most likely not aware of the effort you must make. From your current standpoint you cannot see the whole landscape of learning, trying and failing that the designers that you admire had to go through to be where they are. Remember that when you’ll be assessing your own skills.
Describe your advantages
Do you think you describe yourself honestly? Here’s an example – are work management and self-reliance really your virtues? Why? Tell us how you manage your work – what tools do you use, how do you set priorities for different tasks? Are you really a perfectionist or rather you think it’s just something that we’d want to hear? What is perfectionism to you? Be specific. If you’re driven, tell us why. For example, you worked after hours to make a deadline, helped somebody who couldn’t handle the work or came up with great ideas for optimizing the workflow. Use examples from your personal life or work experience. Catchy words alone won’t give us a practical insight into your mind. Describe them briefly to gain credibility.
Show relevant experience
Remember that we spend our precious time reading your resume and portfolio – please make sure it’s not wasted. In your resume we’re looking exclusively for relevant information. Driving licence is not really useful while working with a branding studio – we deliver design, not pizza.
Be frank about your skills
We don’t expect you to excel at everything. We’ll gladly work with someone who’s good at one particular thing. Tell us about your strengths and weaknesses.
Specifically describe your language skills
Any language certificates (if they’re up-to-date) and your own assessment will be useful for this part. If you’re a talkative person who loves speaking different languages – be our guest and tell us everything about it. Maybe everyday conversations stress you out but you have perfect grammar skills and enjoy writing or speaking dialects? All of it is important to us and can be useful in day-to-day work.
Show us that you understand sales. Prove to us that you have a creative idea both for yourself and our work together. Branding is a sales tool – show us that you know how to use it. We draw knowledge from fields like psychology and sociology on a daily basis.
You work or want to work in the creative industry so your resume template is like a business card – it will be judged as a piece of your work. Design it in a meaningful, well-thought-out way. Your resume should accentuate important information, put them in order and make them accessible (but not doubtful). Recently popular diagrams and infographics that show skill levels usually exist without any meritorical support. We are never sure how to read them and that pisses us off. We want specifics. Tell us exactly what you can and cannot do. Save time – yours and ours.
What about the portfolio?
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the king. Does he really wear ornate robes or maybe he’s naked? Do you focus on beauty or rather meaning and functionality of your projects? Here are 6 things to remember while putting together a creative portfolio.
Accentuate your contribution
For what parts of the project were you responsible and what was done by other people? Who else influenced its final form? We can tell from our own experience how often direction helps give shape to the concept and the creative process itself is determined by few different designers. More than once a great portfolio turned out to be a result of work of other people while the author alone didn’t have much to contribute. We care not only about one’s professional skills but also approach to collaboration and ability to speak freely about working with other designers.
Focus on commissions and real-world projects
Or else you will design for the art, practice or your own imagination alone. Concept projects are a great training vehicle but they are not sufficient in themselves to be included in portfolio. In our work we make design for real businesses – more often than not, they lack beautiful photographs and rich information about products or services, while the company itself faces many different issues that need to be solved. It’s the real-life needs, difficulties and goals that we are most passionate about.
Show your recent work
Let’s say – one or two years back. While we love to see every designer grow and develop his or her skills, we are only interested in your current professional activity.
Showcase different visual styles
There are just as many visual styles as there are businesses and communication concepts. We accept that you may have your favorite, preferred visual language but flexibility and ability to adapt are extremely important in the creative industry. Every designer has own likings and styles that he or she likes better or worse. In our work we adopt an open-minded attitude towards styles and visual solutions.
If possible, describe your design process
Many designers keep their first drafts from the beginning of their design process. From the perspective of working together the importance of the way you think, make choices, and develop ideas grows twofold.
If you don’t have a portfolio, start with these 3 projects
Maybe you are just at the beginning of your design journey and you haven’t had the chance to work with real clients yet. We want to see you resolve specific business issues, interpret different branding concepts and design the right environments to showcases products or services. For starters, I selected three very different brands for you to work with: a funeral home, a butchery, and a delivery company. Those are three unique design concepts that come with different social backgrounds and design problems. Try to identify them, find solutions, and design fitting identities. This exercise will help you find out what you’re good at and what skills you need to improve.
How to write a good email (or don’t)?
Are your portfolio and resume ready? Great, now it’s time for the cherry on top. We’d received plenty of good CVs and even more great portfolios but they rarely were accompanied by equally captivating message. No matter the type of your work, you will sometimes send emails to our clients – and your first message to us must show us that you know how to handle this form of communication. There are a few things that must be included in a job application… and a few that definitely mustn’t. 😉
- Send us an email – not a Behance or Facebook message. Our inbox is the only place that we check regularly and use to plan tasks for the day. We hold orderliness in the highest regards so please – stick with one email thread.
- Don’t send another email to ask if we received the previous one.
- Be mindful of your language and grammar. If you wrote a longer message, divide it into paragraphs with proper headlines. Double check for typos, double spaces, language mistakes or “unnecessary, punctuation”. You want to become a communication specialist, after all. Everyone in our team cares about language.
- Make sure that you know who are you writing to. Browse our work and copy on the website. They will tell you who we are. Your email won’t go to some HR people or secretary that won’t look at anything beyond attachments – it will be sent straight to the inbox of the owners of our studio – mine and my partner Piotr’s.
- Describe your expectations – financial (price estimate for a basic project, hourly rate or monthly salary), work-related (type of contract, settlement, working remotely or in the office), and general (what you want to learn, what skills you want to improve or acquire).
- Tell us why you want to work with us. We are not serious about people who send us trite messages. If we’re one of tens of studios that you write to, you probably have no clue why we are special. Write us how did you find out about us, what made you work with us and what can you bring to our (not anyone else’s) table.
- If you have any references from previous employers, attach them.
- Describe how you work with people who handle projects – project managers or art and creative directors. What was your favorite way to work with them? Do you remember any recurring issues while working with their ideas and briefs? How much do you expect their support and when do you prefer to work on your own?
- Simply let us get to know you. Sympathy is not necessary for working together but… we like to like each other. 🙂 Atmosphere within the team is very important to us – it’s easier to work with people that we’re comfortable with. We know that we can count on each other and we often spend time together even after hours, charging batteries and enjoying our company. Coming back to work on Monday is a pleasure, not necessity.
We wish you that no matter where you work. Maybe with us?