How to Get Your Dream Job as a Recent Graduate

Wooden surface with a dice with a letter on it laid out as "dream job"

It’s been 54 days since I graduated with my Bachelor of Graphic Design, and yesterday was the day I got the call that I’ve been accepted as a full-time Graduate Designer with Emu Design. I’ve compiled a list from my experience that helped me get my dream job.

This didn’t come easy. I was in a part-time Junior position with another company that was 1hr and 30min away. I found this job on Gumtree

Bridget's online portfolio as of February 2018
Bridget’s online portfolio as of February 2018

1. Don’t underestimate the power of your portfolio

Your portfolio is your stage for yourself. I used Adobe Portfolio because it was free with my Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

    The rules of thumb I go by when creating a portfolio is:

    • Show only your best projects/work
    • Have “behind the scenes” and case studies on your projects. It’s a huge bonus when people are looking to hire you. It helps them understand your methodology and creative thinking process.
    • Make it your own, make it you. Most websites like Wix, and Adobe Portfolio allow you to customize with more options.
    • You don’t need to spend +$100/yr on a portfolio coughcough Squarespace coughcough to have a beautiful website. Think about your options and weigh them. WordPress is free and tonnes of plugins, support and themes. Adobe Portfolio is intuitive, apart of Creative Cloud (most designers use this). Wix is free, very WYSWYG design (what you see what you get).
    • Show your services. Recruiters and Clients look for what you can do for them. “I can design brands” is vague. “Undertaking market research and assessing marketing strategies I can design a solution best suited to your business needs.” sounds a bit better doesn’t it? Resourceful Designer has a perfect podcast on this.
Toggl Time Tracking Reports Screenshot

2. Track your time

I can’t recommend this tool enough! I started using Toggl when I was a freelance junior graphic designer for cmcsydney. After seeing it’s results in a visual representation, and organising time by projects, clients and project descriptions I was able to flesh out what I can do quickly and what takes me forever to do.

This helped me understand my strengths and weaknesses

3. Keep applying

I had a small A5 sheet which I wrote all the companies I applied for and what position which I covered up both sides. I applied for 27 different jobs that I had a genuine interest in.

Red square with text saying "Keep calm and keep applying"
Keep applying

What I found was that I may have been in a rut but when I looked at that list I saw my attempts, when I looked at my folder with all my personalised cover letters, my energy was renewed.

Emu Design was in the last 10 jobs I applied for.

Hard work does pay off.

4. Have patience – The hiring process takes time

I wish it was same-day confirmation if you got the job or not but unfortunately, studios and bigger corporations take longer to get back to you.

Icon of calendar

It took a whole month!

The hiring process for me went like this:

I applied for Emu on the 19th January.
They made contact with me on the 2nd of February and I got my first interview on the 8th of Feb.
I got my second interview the week after on the 15th of Feb, where I was given a design task over the weekend to complete and spend no more than 4 hours on. They were down to two final candidates – yes one was me!
Tuesday the 20th of Feb I got confirmation I was on my way and they were conducting reference checks and a background check (has clients in financial companies). THIS IS WHY REFERENCE CHECKS ARE IMPORTANT!!

I immediately sent emails out to my two nominee references to give them a heads up. Come Thursday the 22nd, I was given final approval and the job nitty-gritties.

My first day is Tuesday the 26th and I can’t be any more excited!


Do you have any tips

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