Friday, June 7, 2013

Getting Work You Love: Working In-House

Last time we touched on the things you must do in order to pursue a published gig as a creative. This week, our three-part series continues with explanations on what it takes to make it in-house.
This entry is all about getting an office job as it were – an in-house job is one where you go in, 9 to 5 to do some creative work. I currently have a job like this and as head of the design department, I get to look at all the candidates who hope to get work of this type. Some are exceptional, but many are lacking in some very basic but very key components.
To start, let’s look at some job titles usually carried by in-house creatives. They are:
·         Designer
·         Illustrator
·         Photographer
·         3D Modeler
·         Concept Artist
·         Art or Creative Director
·         And the list goes on…
Now - to reiterate what was said in our last entry - if you want to work in jobs like these, you need a portfolio. I’ll say it again. Artists. Need. Portfolios. I don’t care if you’ve never worked as an artist before in your life – if you have a portfolio, you have 90% of what is necessary to be hired as one. If you don’t, then you basically have nothing. You may laugh or you may cry, but 9 times out of 10, when it comes to immediate rejections, the reason is always the same: the person failed, in their introduction letter or resume, to provide samples of their work, be it a link to an online gallery, a disc, or prints.
As a person considering you for a job centered entirely around your ability to create and to do it well, I simply must see what you’re capable of. Goes without saying that I’d rather see you send a portfolioand no resume than vice versa. And I want to see your best stuff, only. Look again to our first entry for some basic tips on creating a great portfolio.
What goes into your portfolio for an in-house job is, as always, up to you but you would serve yourself best if you had some work that was similar to the type of stuff you’d be doing for the company.  As an example: an employer may be impressed by your show-accurate rendition of Sailor Moon, but if you’re applying for a graphic design job for a healthcare company, you’d be better suited bringing some brochures you’ve laid out and leaving the illustrations at home. Competition for these jobs, especially when advertised in papers or online, can be pretty fierce so don’t think you can get away with bringing your C-game.
If you don’t have anything that would fit, then instead of creating something specifically for that company, you should first take inventory of what your portfolio does show, and question whether or not you’d want a job within that particular industry. Be honest with yourself. If you’ve got a portfolio crammed with illustrations of motorcycles and edgy ads, then a position at Harley-Davidson might be a great fit for you, whereas a job in-house with a vacuum cleaner company, might not. It’s worth your time to seek out a job you love because unlike published and freelance gigs, you can count on spending loads of time within the company’s walls, and that means immersing yourself in their brand. Want to be happy as a creative person? Remember to seek out work you love, and not just work you “can do”. Always and in any economy.
Too, you’d do well to understand the hierarchy of jobs within the design/creative fields. Generally speaking you have: Entry-level or junior designers (jobs for people right out of college or new to the field). Designers and senior designers (both for people with some experience), art and creative directors (the management), Marketing Managers, CMOs, COOs and Presidents (the bosses of the bosses). Feel free to apply to any job, but make sure you have had experience in the field before you expect to break into anything above the basic “designer” level.
You should know basic business etiquette – dress well, not too much perfume, flat shoes, etc. Even if they say the initial interview is casual, dress smart. Again, you’ll be spending a lot of time within the company, and the people in charge want to make sure you’ll fit in with them during those hours.  Oh – and please… Don’t bring your cellphone to the interview, or at least shut it off. Don’t bring your mom, either.
So, what about the resume? Do bring a resume. Simply show that you’ve had a good working history. Try to avoid gaps - If you’ve freelanced, then make sure that’s in there, too! As I said, this isn’t as important as the portfolio, but some firms put a stupid amount of emphasis on college and previous work – and frankly, companies like that are often clueless about hiring a good designer, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get a job there because of these things. Speaking for myself, I mostly use resumes to keep tabs on contact information for candidates I’m interested in, so make sure a working phone number and email address are both present on your resume. Oh – and answer your phone if you get a call or at least call-back in 24 hours!
See you next week, where we'll discuss how to get work as a freelancer!

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