Top career tips for graphic designers

Famous quote from graphic designer Frank Chimero reads,

Not sure how to get your dream job in graphic design? Whether you’re a young graduate just starting out, or a professional looking to boost your career, follow these top tips to design success.

For creatives, being able to work in an environment that demands your out-of-the-box thinking and artistic talents is practically a dream come true. The reality of getting this dream job is not as simple as the whimsical stories graphic design legends have foretold.

Nowadays, the world is full of dog-eat-dog attitudes and people being turned away from starter jobs because they ‘do not have the experience’. 

So what are the best ways to stand out from the crowd, gain the best experience and feel the most confident in what you do?

Blog graphic for graphic design career tips - reads, "It's through mistakes that you can actually grow. You have to get bad in order to get good." by Paula Scher

Study Graphic Design

It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but a degree and / or masters on your CV, (especially one that is relevant in your field), will put you above the rest of the pile. The great thing about degrees or diplomas in the modern world, is that you can practically become an expert in anything. Degrees span across a range of subjects under design including typography, web design, package design, branding, motion graphics and illustration. That’s just the basic ones; you can even join degrees under one name. For example, the University of Chester offers a combined course of graphic design with Fine Art or Photography.

Get Involved In The Community

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, people can connect all over the world. There are loads of designer hubs out there including the obvious ones like Behance, DeviantArt and Dribble – which enable you to upload your own portfolios and talk about other designer’s work. Here’s a lovely list of design communities for you to get involved in:

  1. Design Contest
  2. Interaction Design Foundation
  3. Minted
  4. Tavern
  5. HOW
  6. Design Juices

Create Your Portfolio

Generally, designers include their best and most proudest work in their portfolios, so you do not have to include everything you’ve ever done. Bear in mind, that prospective employers want to see your work-in-progress so put your sketches or brainstorming notes in also to demonstrate and outline your thought process.

Interestingly, people remember the start of something or the end of something stronger than the bits in the middle, so be tactful and include the best work you wish to showcase in the beginning and towards the end.

This area of work will always continue to grow, meaning there will always be something new to learn and it is key to get that across to your employer during the interview. Don’t be afraid to be open about your weaknesses as well as your strengths – think deeply about the questions you may be asked and what you would like to get across.

Famous quote from Joshua Brewer reads, "Socrates said, 'Know thyself.' I say, 'Know thy users.' And guess what? They don't think like you do."

Indulge In Photography

Relating back earlier when mentioning joint degrees including photography, having the ability to take edgy photos really benefits you in the design industry. Taking your own photographs is the pinnacle of fresh content and will stand out from widely used images. Not only that, but it will add to your list of credential skills on your CV.

Do Charity Work

Specifically, design for charities. Yes, the work you undertake will be free, but it is a great way to begin networking and building on that amazing portfolio of yours. There are many resources out there searching for designers including V Inspired and Volunteering England. If no such luck there, check out your local gallery, design studio or school to see if you can be of any assistance. This is yet another great thing to mention on your CV – employers love to see a candidate who is willing to go beyond the payroll to make magic happen. Besides all else, charity work is one of the most selfless acts you can undertake – it gives back to your community and helps benefit the lives of others.

Famous quote from graphic designer Frank Chimero reads, "Good design is all about making other designers feel like idiots because that idea was never theirs."

Apply For Internships

“Working in the real world is different to learning about it” – all through my time at school that’s all I heard. It’s true. I barely survived the 2 weeks on work placement. My work experience was for a magazine company in the heart of London and they expected me, a 15 year old lass, to get into central London, Monday – Friday by 8am. I did it, but boy was it hard. Sometimes, we need to dive head first into what we see our future to be to really find ground that its the right place to be. Graphic design is a highly creative, competitive industry and it would be within your best interest to dip your toes into what’s to come. Internships are also great networking opportunities and could even land you a permanent role.

Create An Incredible CV

Normal CVs are something to be avoided as a graphic designer. If you really want to impress, you’ll create something so interesting, your prospective employer wouldn’t want to put it down. Creative CVs include a chocolate bar, beer packaging, Lego and a packet of pills. A tailored CV is also a great thing to do, so, for that job you really have to have, take some time on it and perfect it to that company or client – they’ll love the thought behind it. It would be within your best interest to create an entire stash of personalised print including business cards and stationery within the same format as your CV.

Famous quote from graphic designers: this one is from Milton Glaser and reads "There are three responses to a piece of design - yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for."

Run Your Own Website

This rolls in with the portfolio, CV and learning a bit of web design. Industries are beginning to blur together as technology continues to surge forwards and it is a key pointer to any employer if you run your own website. Hosting your own domain name shows that you are with the times, that you think ahead and that you are multi-talented. Websites are simpler than ever to create and the best place to begin is through WordPress. The site has multiple free and paid themes as well as a series of easily editable features.

Start Searching For Free Design Resources

Solopress offers a great list of free design resources already including our free templates, tips and tutorials. These include free fonts, guides to Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, marketing ideas and industry secrets. 


  1. I am actually about to graduate in Graphic design – this was a very interesting article to read, thanks! 🙂 Selena

  2. Very useful advice. My nephew is just thinking about going into this profession so great to get some handy hints.

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