As emerging designers find themselves in between networking, establishing a digital presence, and attending interviews, one might begin to question themselves about how to present and talk about their portfolio to future employers.
Presentation skills are essential to being a designer in order to communicate your ideas, thoughts and concepts on various projects. Let’s say you see a design job application online and want to pursue it; you’ve landed the interview. Now, how do you stack the deck in your favor to secure the job? First things first… fill your portfolio with works that have good stories behind them. The projects can range from things you enjoyed doing, have a strong interest in or fit the style of the design firm. When you’re able to talk about what inspires you, a challenge you faced, or were able to work with a colleague that you enjoy… your passion for design will shine through!
Prior to the interview, review the work and be able to talk about the design objective as well as describe the details that led you to your final result. In the interview, structure the conversation, about your work, on the third party: your clients. It might make you a little nervous to brag about yourself but avoid using the word “I.” Speak up and narrate your work. Mention your involvement, how you were influenced by other designers, and your inspirations for the projects. Being able to associate yourself with organizations, like AIGA, or other aspects of design culture such as blogs, or memberships always works to your advantage.
All along, be a listener. Hiring managers, Art Directors and the like want to know how you will fit in and be a benefit to their company. By listening, you can tailor your skills and conversation to their clientele and address their needs. They will know if you’ve taken the time to learn about them and have done your research based upon how well you can attest to their mission and design strategy.
Once you leave, make a lasting impression. Don’t forget to thank them for their time and leave something behind – a business card or a work sample, for instance. This establishes a clear reminder for them to think about you and keeps you on their mind! Lastly, send a handwritten thank-you note to show your appreciation for their time and recognition of your talent and qualifications.
PS. Don’t forget that dressing appropriately is part of your presentation skills as well. You want to look snazzy and sharp!”
Resources for Presenting:
Author & Desginer: Kristin Fowler is the Co-Director for Emerging Designer Programming, a graphic designer and recent graduate from Meredith College.