Make a good CV
One important thing you should do when looking for a job is set up a separate, private email address dedicated to work-related business only. In fact, the best thing to do would be to grab your name as a domain and host your email from there, further demonstrating your skillset. You'll also need a CV.
There are thousands of websites detailing what makes a good CV in general, but for a web design job you obviously need to focus on your core web skills – no one's really going to be interested in that summer you spent working behind the meat counter in Tesco.
Again, provide links to any live sites and if possible show how your design has increased sales, improved awareness of a subject and so on.
The importance of providing a good cover letter is often underestimated, but it's just as (if not more) important than your CV. Use your cover letter to introduce yourself and outline your career ambitions while highlighting your entire skillset as concisely as possible.
Above all, make sure you understand the components of the job being advertised and that you can demonstrate how and when you've accomplished these.
It may take time, but if you've got the right skills and the right attitude, you'll eventually get your first interview. Remember, interviews are a two-way process, so before going to the interview do some research on the company, review its website, look at the company structure and look at any websites it has.
Try to articulate where your skills and ability could have been used – but don't big yourself up too much.
Keep it up
Once you succeed and get your first job, you can go out and celebrate – but this doesn't mean your journey has ended. You'll soon find out that you've only just entered 'the real world'.
Continue to use the social networking sites that provided you with that useful information. If a new one is taking off, make sure you're the first person in the office signed up to it and that people know it was you who found out about it.
Designer, speaker and writer Elliot Jay Stocks recently revealed that he sets aside a portion of his morning to catch up on his RSS feeds, blog articles and Twitter updates: "Don't expect to get any work done in the first hour of your day" he advises.
Also, try to schedule a 30-minute breakout session with the senior personnel, at least once a week. Review what they're doing and ask for hints and tips. Try to create a reference guide of the code you're learning.
Many companies use task boards to assign workload: volunteering yourself for things you have little or no experience of can be a quick way to gain knowledge and experience. The industry can be challenging, but there are fantastic rewards for those who persevere.
While fresh graduates in law or finance may be earning more than you, very few of them will have as much job satisfaction.
Web design is a mix of art and technology where you can use your skills, ideas and cutting-edge tools to create a solution that was originally just a thought in someone's head.
Remember that web designers don't have to come through college or university. Many are self-taught, and this should inspire you to continue learning new things yourself.
A qualification alone will never guarantee you a job in this industry – what's important is passion. Work hard, stay enthusiastic, and you'll never go far wrong.
First published in .net Issue 189
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