Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Designers of the World, Write.

This week, How Magazine presents a very interesting article by Juliet D'Ambrosio, associate creative director at Atlanta-based Iconologic. The article begins like this:

It's a strange paradox: So many designers whose work speaks so fluently in images flee in terror when called upon to communicate with the written word. After all, designers are nothing if not communicators, and communication is most fully realized when image and word unite.

Juliet presents seven steps to tackle this challenge. I suggest you read on, to find out more.

All the best!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Design Aerobics

Creativity is like a muscle, right? Well, here’s a website I found a couple of years ago, that literally proclaims that very thing and offers designers a series of exercises to stimulate their creative juices.

Designboom is a website dedicated to industrial design. One of their sections is called the Design Aerobics where for a fee, you can enroll in a variety of design exercises.

There are 8 themes a year: Sex, work, spirituality, childhood, glass, paper, ceramics and textiles. Each course takes two months, where you also get to meet other people from all over the world who are also doing the exercises, and get great feedback from expert instructors.

The website actually has a page where they explain what the Design Aerobics are about.

I can’t actually comment further, because I haven’t tried them myself. However, I thought I’d bring them up here as an interesting design resource and allow you to decide for yourselves.

Do drop by later and leave a comment if you’ve got something to share about them.

All the best!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Top Ten Job Hunting Blunders in Latin America

Nobody is perfect, especially when it comes to job hunting, which is greatly subjective. There are however, practices that should be avoided if you want to up the chances of getting an interview.

In my experience, I’ve had the opportunity to recruit mostly designers though I’ve recruited other positions. And believe me, when you’ve got about 500 resumes to read, you’re just looking for reasons to filter the best out quickly.

Here I present to you the top ten blunders (In no particular order) I see in designers looking for a job in Latin America. Let me tell you, these poor souls weren’t called for an interview.

Blunder 1: “Maybe someone will see how much I need the job and hire me”.
Nobody will hire you for a design position out of pity. Remember, it’s not what the company can do for you, but the other way around. People hire you for two basic reasons: They want you to help increase sales, or cut back costs. Think about how you can play a part in either or both and present yourself that way to the company. You’ll boost your chances of getting called for an interview.

Blunder 2: “Let me go ahead and send just my resume without a portfolio. After all, who cares about the work I’ve done?”
Helloooooo! Aren’t you a designer? When you send your resume for a position as a designer, and don’t send a portfolio, you’re not leveraging the opportunity to make a great first impression, thus losing the battle against people who walk the extra mile and do send samples of their best work. Who would you call for an interview? Don’t place any more work on the recruiter, making them send you an email requesting a portfolio. Send it up front!

Blunder 3: “She’s not going to notice that I sent it to nine different places at the same time”.
You send the resume in an email to several different job offering people in the “To” field, displaying the fact that you don’t care about any particular company or position and that you didn’t even research those companies. Worst of all, displaying your carelessness when it comes to presenting yourself which could lead one to believe that you’re sloppy in your work as well.

Blunder 4: “I know! I’ll just write ‘resume’ in the subject line of the email! That’ll set me apart from everybody!”
Again, a sea of emails and resumes. Think, how can you set yourself apart? The least you can do is write your name and the position you’re applying to in the subject line of the email. This way you make it easier for the recruiter to find you.

Blunder 5: “Wow, my resume is so gorgeous, I’m not going to even bother to check my spelling”.
Wrong! Send a resume with spelling and grammar errors and you’ll be screaming sloppy. You’re a designer, you need to be concerned with kerning and correct punctuation. Who wants to hire a designer that doesn’t pay attention to details?

Blunder 6: “Picture perfect?”
So you went against your better judgment and decided to include your picture on your resume. I suggest you run a poll among your closest friends and acquaintances to decide whether or not the picture does you justice. With all due respect, but the mug shot, or the I-just-got-out-of-bed, or the I’m-so-pitiful-please-hire-me look don’t favor anyone.

Blunder 7: “I’m sure they’ll only receive about three designer resumes, so why bother with a presentation letter? I’ll just send my bare resume”.
Again, 500 resumes at any given time. The key here is to differentiate yourself. Other designers present their case in the email or the presentation letter, telling the company how hiring them would be a good idea, how they can help the business grow sales and how what they have to offer matches the company and the position. You might want to try that sometime.

Blunder 8: “Maybe they won’t notice that I’ve applied to three different positions in the same company”.
When you apply to different positions, it just conveys the message that you don’t know what you want or how your skills can match the diverse jobs. Take the time to research the positions and the company, before applying.

Blunder 9: “So I have to format my portfolio to fit their expectations? If they can’t open it, it’s not my problem”.
The recruiter has requested something from you, and you find it annoying to have to comply. Either they can’t read a .exe or they’d like you to send JPGs instead of PDFs. Hmm, you might as well say that you’re not interested, or better yet, don’t send your resume at all! Why? Because there are other designers who are willing to do whatever it takes to land an interview and you’re… not.

Blunder 10: “I’m sure it’s like all the other design studios. Why bother looking for more information? I know them all”.
You’ve been lucky enough to land the interview, yet you get there and you don’t even remember the position you applied to! You also didn’t research the company and its culture, so you are completely clueless. This screams with conceitedness and lack of vision about how you can help the company first.

For every designer that is not willing to walk the extra mile, there’s another one who will, and who has a far greater chance of landing the job.

All the best!

Related articles:
12 resume writing tips for designers.
Designers beware: Your portfolio.
Designers beware: Being the interviewee (Part 1).
Designers beware: Being the interviewee (Part 2).
Designers beware: Being the interviewer.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Get your boss to send you to How Design Conference

A couple of weeks ago I received my latest issue of How Magazine. Inside there were some postcards promoting the How Design Conference.

The graphic design is pretty cool, as it is to be expected from the How team. However, that’s not what really caught my attention.

The interesting part was that they made each postcard as if it was a designer, sending it to their boss, explaining why it would be good for the boss, to send the designer to the conference.

See these examples:

“Hey, Boss! I’ll get all the tools I need to work more efficiently + effectively at the How Design Conference in Boston (May 18-21). Experts from Adobe will share insider secrets on Photoshop, InDesign and more — while top designers outline their best time-saving processes! Let me save you time (and money) — Send me to HOW! PS: If I learn just one tip that saves 2 minutes off a tedious design project — I’ll save at least 8 hours a year!”.

“Boss: The How Design Conference helps designers work faster, smarter and more creatively — that’s why I want to go! I’ll learn shortcuts and new techniques for the Adobe software I use everyday; get creativity boosters from the experts; and find out how to positively impact your business through design. Find out more at http://www.howconference.com/”.

“Being creative is my job. But on-the-spot creativity is a learned trait. That’s why the How Design Conference is important. I’ll see amazing work from some of the brightest minds in the industry and learn how to develop innovative solutions to business and marketing problems, even under pressure. — I wanna go!”

“Dear Boss— Please send me to Boston May 18-21 for the 2008 How Design Conference! I’ll learn new creative processes that will actually save YOU money — such as how to create my own type and build a stock photo library. Everything I learn, from on-demand creativity to technological shortcuts, will have a positive impact on your bottom line.”

See a pattern?

This is how a designer can sell an idea. Present to the other person what the benefits for them will be. Not only that, but be specific about what those benefits will be. Who could deny a designer who asks this way, the possibility to attend the conference?

HOW knows that, and that’s why they set up a Tips For Convincing Your Boss To Send You To The How Design Conference web page.

My point is that, if this is the way most designers think in the US, perhaps we, the Latin American designers have something to learn from them, like how to present a case or an idea and how to ask for training that will benefit both you and the company. And I think that we are scared to ask sometimes, because we assume that our bosses won’t want to spend money on such things, but like my old boss used to say: “Don’t assume, verify!”.

All the best!