A few notes on things that I (personally) think do and don’t work when applying for a creative freelance role with me...
A few months ago I put a call out on Instagram, because that’s the way we advertise for jobs these days apparently! But in all seriousness, I knew there were a whole heap of incredibly talented people following me on instagram, some of whom had already contacted me about working with/for me so it seemed the best way to do it. I was not expecting over 300 entrants for this freelance designer/illustrator role so firstly thank you if you were one of those people and by this point you will have received (or will very soon be receiving) an email to let you know if you were successful or not.
This feels like a weird thing for me to comment on because I actually know nothing about applying for jobs (apart from part time jobs like waiting on at a garden centre cafe and working at Topshop... my first ‘proper’ jobs when I was a teenager through to finishing uni) but I don’t actually know much about applying for creative/design jobs apart from what we were told at university (I studied Graphic Design at MMU). One of our briefs there was to design a brand/logo for ourselves and then create a CV/portfolio we could use when we left uni (or whilst we were still at uni). I and most of the year group HATED this project, it was horrendous, brand yourself.. how?! After loads of options I ended up just handwriting my name (haha) which I was told wouldn’t cut it and I also created a laser cut business card which was perforated in a circle with a collage of my smile in the middle and my contact details on the back, I actually quite liked it but I’m not sure anyone else did... anyway, fast forward a year or two after uni I somehow, half without realising created my own brand with me being ‘the face’ of that brand. Don’t get me wrong, there were A LOT of phone calls/emails/knocking on doors paired with a lot of hard work and doing loads of freelance work for people which I didn’t necessarily enjoy or think looked that good because it was all for different clients and didn’t feel like ‘me’ but on the side I was constantly doing my own thing and growing my own stuff in the background.
So now I’ve admitted I know nothing about CVs or applying for jobs because I made up my own job and it seems to have paid off, here’s my list of stuff I think works or doesn’t work:
- Keep it simple. Obviously I wasn’t expecting to receive over 300 applications but that’s just little old me... imagine what big, massive companies are receiving. So, really, I don’t have time to read pages of information or your life story (sorry!) but also don’t just send a link or folder of work with no other writing/information/anything because it makes you look like a robot... find a middle ground somewhere in between.
- Try and find a balance of informative and personal - I (personally) loved the applications that gave me actual real information about you (like the fact that you love cats and baking or whatever) because it makes you a real person. The person/people I chose had to be somebody I could get on with and have a chat with as well as being good at their job so yes do be informative and tell me about your work/what you do/have done but equally don’t try and be ‘too professional’ when it’s a company/brand/person like me I’m not a big corporate company I’m just a human writing and doodling away, drinking cups of tea and napping when things get a bit much (haha)
- Attach your work on the email if you can - I think your work should speak for itself. Don’t send TOO much work. If you’ve got loads, possibly cut it down and only send work that’s relevant to the position your applying for or you think links in some way. Don’t send work you don’t like. And try to attach your work either via a PDF on the email (reduce the quality a little to fit it on) or via a link which has an actual hyperlink so it can just be clicked on/opened... again if we’re having to copy and paste the link ourselves and sometimes the link doesn’t work or isn’t spelt correctly then we’re unfortunately likely to just move on to the next one... there were quite a lot of links I tried to open that didn’t work. Also I wouldn’t recommend sending stuff via WeTransfer for the initial email, the links run out and it can all just get a bit messy. If you're successful or they ask to see more work then you could send via WeTransfer I think.
- Personalise stuff - I also loved the applications that personalised their email/CV/designs etc with my name or The Happy News in some way... it shows you’ve taken time and gone to a lot of effort and also shows an understanding of me/the brand that we’re looking for.. Thank you!
- If you don’t know the person/brand do your research, Google is a superb tool where you can find out loads of stuff about people/brands etc usually. If you get asked to do a phone interview or a meeting or trial it’s always good to have a bit of background info
- Be passionate! It really shows when people are passionate about a job/application/brand in the same way that it reeeeallly shows if you’re not at all passionate (or bothered) about it and your mate has just tagged you in the advert and told you to apply. Don’t apply if you have no idea what you’re walking into.
- Linking to the point above about letting your work speak for yourself, I’ll be honest I looked at the work/website/portfolio before anything else because that’s obviously the most important thing I’m looking for and has to be right... I don’t really care much about CVs although I know they’re important to have and are good to be able to get ‘proper’ information about you but I only looked at the Cvs once I picked the shortlist of work I loved. If you’re applying for a creative job make your CV look creative too! Show off your style on the CV, I know they can be boring/necessary things but don’t think it has to just be grey and white.
- Prove that you 'get it'. There's nothing more refreshing that when you can clearly see that somebody 'gets' the brand and more so that they understand the job role they're applying for and show knowledge and understanding of what else the job role may include (I.e. quick turnaround jobs, helping to grow a growing brand in my case)
- Name your price. I hate this bit, even now, I just can't do it... to the point where I did a lot of stuff for free in the early days or for super cheap just because I wanted/needed the work (which I still think is okay because I learnt a lot). Say if your price is negotiable or not, be as firm as you can with it... get advice, Google! At the end of the day most of us here are creative so therefore aren't big into numbers and figures but you have to get to know to a certain degree to know what to charge for your work/time. It's absolutely okay to charge a standard rate and then drop it or do stuff for free if you want to help somebody out or do work for a charity or friend... I do that regaularly but I also have to be quite firm with costing because basically most people want everything for nothing. If you need/want the work be flexible but if you don't, stick to your price and don't budge.
Obviously, as I said in the beginning this isn't a blanket 'what to do and what not to do' but that isn't how any creative applications should work anyway in my opinion. I think the strongest applicants are the ones who adjusted (even if only ever so slightly) their application or CV/Portfolio to suit or link to the job they were applying for. Being and showing your passionate about something can go a really long way.
Keep smiling and creating,