How To Get A Graphic Design Job Right Out Of School


If there’s one thing that has the potential to kill all of a young graphic designer’s hopes and dreams, it’s not getting a response after applying for a position.

This applies for all jobs, not just for graphic design jobs, but I find it especially applies to graphic designers. When you apply for a position as a graphic designer, you’re sending not only a resume and cover letter (properly designed, of course) – you’re sending a taste of what you can do. A portfolio teaser. Something that will catch the Creative or Art Director’s attention.

Needless to say, a lot of thought and effort should go into every package you send out, so it’s no surprise then that it’s very easy to feel a sense of disappointment when you don’t receive a response. But it doesn’t mean you should stop trying. Quite the opposite: keep looking, trying and building.

Keep in mind – Creative Directors and Art Directors are very busy people. They have clients to please and work to finish, so their minds aren’t always on who’s applying or finding the next great designer to add to their team.

I applied to numerous agencies and studios – ones I had my heart set on, ones I thought I’d surely get a call back from. Wrong!

I’d also feel a sense of disappointment when a week, 2 weeks and 3 weeks would go by and I didn’t get calls, emails or anything back.

But instead of giving up, turning on my Playstation and moping around, I turned that disappointment into energy. I used that energy as application fuel.

What was I doing wrong? Could I do something better? I was constantly questioning everything I did and looking for feedback in order to improve.

So with that in mind, here are a few tips I learned along the way:

1. Make a list

Make a list of your favourite agencies, studios and other places that you want to apply to. Keep looking back to it and use it as a checklist. As you go on, cross off places you’ve applied to and add new ones as you find more. This will keep you on track and organized.

2. Do your research

Know who you’re applying to and who’s going to be looking at your portfolio. Know their work and company. Once you’ve done this, personalize each package you send out for each specific place. Show them that you’ve done your research and you’ve given some thought to what you’re sending them.

3. Get feedback

From your teachers, peers, parents, friends. Get feedback from anyone and everyone; it will only make you better and allow you to see your work in a different light.

Remember that you’ve chosen a career path where you’ll constantly be given criticism. Get used to it and make it a habit to get as much feedback as possible.

4. Be original

Creative Directors, Art Directors and anyone who’s in charge of hiring has probably come across hundreds of packages, gifts and samplers from designers. What will make yours stand out? What will make them want to pick yours up and have a look through it? Keep asking yourself that as you’re crafting up what it is you’ll eventually send.

Think of it this way: if you’re a Creative Director working at the agency you’ve just applied to, would you pick up what you’ve just submitted and have a look through it?

5. Reflect

Before you submit anything, make sure you leave yourself a grace period of a few days so you can look back on what you’ve created. Does it still look good to you? Is there something you’re missing? Keep looking back and make sure what you send out is perfect.


If there’s one thing to take away from this it’s this: keep building yourself, if something doesn’t work keep moving forward and try something new.

Landing a full time job as a graphic designer right out of school isn’t the easiest, but if you lose sight of it and lose that initial drive to keep applying, you won’t get very far.

In my next article, I’ll explain how I prepared for graphic design job interviews. Stay tuned!

Photo credit: IMG_0046 by Mondayne on Flickr
About the author

Dan Ioanitescu combines his passion for design and technology on a daily basis as an in-house Graphic Designer for the one of the largest IT Solution providers in North America. He works on everything from print, web and tablet app design. Through social media, he leverages his experiences as opportunities to share stories and insights with other designers and design students alike. Read more of his blog posts at or connect with him at