Even as an owner of a little web design company I still get a healthy amount of speculative career enquiries. The problem with almost all of them is that they have little knowledge of what my company does, where we are or even what our names are. In short, these people are doing it all wrong. If I were looking for a job, this is what I’d do…
Do some research
Look into the company or companies you want to work for. Properly. Find out what they do, what you like about them, where they are and how many people work there. If the company looks small and are not advertising for positions chances are they aren’t looking for anyone. There is no harm in contacting them though, if you’re good they’d be silly not to keep your details!
Put together a portfolio
You simply cannot try to get a job without some kind of portfolio, even if you’re a student and haven’t begun your career yet. How can anyone know what you can do without seeing what you can do?
If you have absolutely nothing at all, think of a couple of pet projects to showcase. That could be anything from redesigning a popular app or website or creating your own thing. Scott Hofford came up with the novel idea of 50 States 50 Brands to demonstrate his brand and typographic skills. Its a great way of showing what he can do, demonstrating his ingenuity and a fantastic source of content for his blog.
Of course if you’re a developer or front-end coder sharing your Github account can also be really useful.
Get a website
There is no excuse not to have your own domain and website to show off your portfolio. Even if you’re not a coder, there are so many ways to get a website from Squarespace and Dunked to WordPress Themes. A blog never hurts either, it gets your name out there and gets you thinking about creating useful content (hopefully like this post!). Things don’t need be expensive, I heartily recommend Hover for domains and TSOHost for some affordable hosting, by the way that last link also gives you 10% off.
You should have a social presence
You should be on at least one of the most commonly known social networks. The content there can be a mix of professional and portfolio, but you may want to vet your social streams before you start sending out links.
Put together a good CV
A CV, in this day and age! Yes, keep it simple though and limit it to a personal summary and relevant qualifications. Not everyone is going to want to see this so I wouldn’t send it on your initial contact but mention that you have one plus references if needed.
Put together a tailored email
No prospective employer wants to receive an email that has been bulk sent or copied and pasted with absolutely zero attention to detail. Make sure you look up the company owners and address them by name. Give some passion about who you are and what you do and why you want to work for this company. Keep it short enough to be quick to read but long enough to get in all of the necessary details, how good you are and what you can bring to the company. As for the subject of the email, something catchy but not spammy works well. Here are some ideas:
- Have you met Chris Wharton? He’d love to work for your company (Obviously this would work better if you used your name and not mine)
- I want to work for you
- Web designer looking for full time or freelance work
- I will work for peanuts (but preferably money)
- I know you’re not looking to hire someone, but…
When I got out of University I applied for over 70 jobs in the space of a month, I didn’t take a summer break – I got right to it. If it’s your first job, it doesn’t need to be for your “perfect” company, experience is always useful. If you are looking to move on to another company from your current one make sure you are making the right choice, a step up is better than a side step in my opinion, but that bit is up to you.
Good luck out there!