How to ‘not’ get your first design job?

How to ‘not’ get your first design job

A satirical post on the things you need to keep in mind while applying for your first design job based purely on my experiences.

How to ‘not’ get your first design job?

This is not going to be another Medium post on how to crack an interview or design the best portfolio or even where to start looking. Because let’s face it, there are a lot more experienced designer posts who have written well-explained posts.

This is a Medium post where I explain to you about things that you should not do if you want to land your first design role with a hint of ‘satire.’

I was passively looking for a full-time role for two months and then started actively looking for a role for another two months. I ‘almost’ made all the mistakes in the below list and here in my learning from each one of them.

Comment ‘Interested’ on LinkedIn job posts

Comment ‘Interested’ on LinkedIn job posts
Comment ‘Interested’ on LinkedIn job posts

Every time I open my LinkedIn, I see at least 4–5 comments on my feed where someone has commented ‘I’m Interested’ on a job post. Sometimes these are spam posts purely created with the motive of increasing viewership of the author’s profile.

I’m not saying all of them are spammy posts, but in most scenarios they are. And let’s be logical. In most cases, even if the post is legit there is no easy way for a person to track applicants through LinkedIn comments.

In most cases, they mention a clear call to action like ‘Apply on our website’ or ‘Email portfolio’.

Apply only through job portals

Apply only through job portals
Apply only through job portals

We have made this mistake where we apply for a job only through job portals. There is nothing wrong with these job portals as such, but it’s the sheer amount of applications they receive. It’s almost impossible for a design recruiter to go through every single applicant.

If you’re a fresher or changing your career into the design, chances are your application will be filtered out. Reach out to design managers or someone who is already working at the company. If you can create something beforehand like a feature suggestion or redesign, there is nothing like it to catch a recruiter’s attention.

“Applying on a job portal is liking throwing your portfolio in a black hole”

— Some great dude

Obsess over one company and forget the rest

Obsess over one company and forget the rest
Obsess over one company and forget the rest

As designers, we all have that one company where we would love to work. It has the ideal product, design team, and work culture. But sometimes we can’t get a role in our ideal company. It may not because you’re not a good enough designer. For example, they don’t have an opening, they have budget cuts, they’re not hiring new designers, etc.

So it’s always best to keep a few companies in your hand as options because even if you get rejected from your ideal company, you’re not discouraged. After all, there are other companies that you can look forward to applying.

Only reach out to HRs

Only reach out to HRs
Only reach out to HRs

A typical company HR receives quite a lot of messages on LinkedIn where almost everyone is asking them for a job or about an opening in their company. This includes engineering, sales & marketing, design, and other applicants.

If you’re a new designer, HR folks will not look at your portfolio and gauge your skill. Instead, they will most likely ask your previous work experience to filter you out as a ‘good’ or ‘not so good’ candidate.

Not have a portfolio website

Not have a portfolio website
Not have a portfolio website

I consider this as the biggest mistake I made when I started applying for jobs. The best way to present your work and skills is by putting them all together on a website and influence how the viewer sees the website.

If you send a bunch of links or documents over email or job applications, a design recruiter or manager will honestly not have the time to go through every single link. And decide whether you’re a good candidate or not.

Also, you can regularly make updates to your website, which is not the same for a PDF or a document.

I landed my first design job at OnJuno as a Product Designer once I stopped doing the above things. I hope this can help you from making the same mistakes I did, and you can land your first design role as well.

Hey folks, I’m Kaushik Murali. I try to share my learning about product & design on my Instagram page. You can strike up a conversation with me on Twitter.


How to ‘not’ get your first design job? was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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