After a twenty-year career, in full-time positions, in design agencies. What tips would I give my younger self? – Career tips designers.

Choose your computer wisely.

After being employed as an HTML developer, I fell into graphic design and then moved over to graphic design as my employers asked more of me.

From the start of my career as a designer, I was un-usual as I was using the PC. The usual computer choice for a graphic designer is a Macintosh.

Working on the PC may have stopped my career from becoming more creative, but it meant. I could get involved in print work as well as online work. It was apparent that the internet would become more critical in the future. Therefore it meant I would be able to find employment quickly.

My career has been exciting, and I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve had the chance to get involved in website front-end development and have got involved in graphic design, including branding with marketers and directors.

The design industry is obsessed with the Macintosh computer and doesn’t want to move away anytime soon. If you work with the big players in the design industry, it would be wise to stay with the Macintosh.

If you think you want a less creative career and more to do with technology, then choose the PC.

You may think you don’t need excellent writing skills.

Your writing skills are paramount to getting on and doing well in the graphic design industry. Even if you don’t get involved in writing, there will be times in your career when having excellent English skills will help with your image and recognition.

Networking and keeping a positive ‘I can-do attitude.

Unfortunately, the days when you have a job for life are long gone. It would help if you kept a positive attitude, and staying in contact with your peers is a must.

So take advantage of social media, get on LinkedIn and network. You need to market yourself online and don’t forget to ‘big yourself up.

The problem. You are earning money for your bills versus needing the experience to raise your income.

It’s such a horrible feeling when a business employs you, and you’re not getting the experience you desire—kept on a low wage with no chance to improve and earn more is soul-destroying. I’ve been there.

When a business dangles a carrot at you, you have to jump in the hope that you will get some recognition. If you need experience, you must start thinking outside the box.

Could you get a part-time job outside of your full-time position? I know this isn’t easy, but you need to persevere and take hold of any chances that come your way—possible contact a charity, as they are always after free help.

Keeping everything in boxes

When you are looking for graphic designer positions, thinking about being placed in a box, your potential employers will be doing this.

What do I mean by this? Imagine getting forced into a box when you’re a giant triangle. Employers are looking for that perfect fit.

When you send over your portfolio and CV, ensure it fits perfectly. Look at the description of the job role and tailor your CV to do this role.

For example: if it’s for an Artworker position. Say in your application; that you’re interested in the technical side of things. Highlight all the technical stuff you have done, such as various courses. Make yourself that perfect fit.

Keep going on courses.

I cannot believe how quickly you can become unemployable because you haven’t kept up-to-date with what’s happening in the industry. There have been times when I’ve not been focused on what I am doing and ‘missed a trick’ of some new technology that has become an industry standard.

Graphic design isn’t for the faint-hearted if you want a secure, nine-to-five work. Don’t get into graphic design. It would help if you had the vigour and drive to keep up with your competitors. Expect to have long working hours!

Learn business skills

Unless you won the lottery, you would be working for a long time. You may think, I love graphic design; I will do this for the rest of my life.

The thing is, you are in front of a computer all the time. Which may start affecting your health, or you may want a change.

I would start thinking about expanding your skillset now. Just begin contemplating what you could move to. Such as project management, marketing, programming and writing.

I wouldn’t look at graphic design as something you will do for the rest of your life. It tends to be a younger person game.

I hope that helps you guys.

Please join my monthly newsletter for some more top tips.

Kind Regards

Helen