Self promotion. What works and what doesn’t?

The idea of leaving this nice little bubble and entering the real world after my degree is scary.

What makes it even scarier is the fact that when I leave I most probably won’t have a job to walk straight into, and I will have to find one in this less-than-brilliant economic climate.

However perhaps the scariest part of it all is the level of competition I will be up against. There are all sorts of stories about what some people do to stand out from the swarm of excitable fresh graduates. It appears that a simple nicely laid out document stating your education and work experience so far is no longer adequate for a CV, with students trying to show their “blue sky thinking” (a phrase I really, really dislike) at every opportunity.

But is this what companies actually want? Do they want to have to decode your qualifications? To faff around trying to figure out how to turn your business card into a marker pen? I really don’t know. I would think being able to portray your qualifications clearly and simply would show a lot more understanding on your part as to what graphic design actually is.

Surely a CV is your first opportunity to show that you can communicate, and with each student desperate to upstage their peers, I have seen several examples of CVs where I’ve spent so long working out what each symbol or coloured line represents that it no longer fulfils its primary purpose. I would love to know what industries actually want. Do you need a ‘big idea’ for everything? Or can your portfolio demonstrate your “outside-the-box thinking” (another unfavourable phrase) after they have read your credentials with ease?

The reason I actually started that monologue was because of some rather lovely self promotion featured recently on The Dieline. I think that self promotion is an entirely different thing to a CV and it should be here where creativity should be expressed.

The idea was simple, a chocolate bar with a Willy Wonka style golden ticket. However it is her attention to detail that drew me to Charlotte Olsen‘s work. I like the simple use of ingredients to showcase what she’s “made up of” as well as the lovely best before section which reads “Best Before: Someone else snaps me up.”

The Golden Ticket also grants her future employer 10% off her wages. This added extra is quite an interesting one. With a rise in students protesting against industries offering unpaid internships this detail not only gives her prospective employer an incentive to hire her but it also clearly and politely shows an unwillingness to work for free. I’m not sure if this was intentional or whether that’s just the way it comes across but I think it was a very clever move on her part.


4 thoughts on “Self promotion. What works and what doesn’t?

  1. As somebody who receives applications from many graduate designers (8 last week from as far afield as China) I agree that CVs shouldn’t be used as ‘marketing’ pieces to sell a designers ‘blue sky’ thinking as you put it. However they should be of the highest degree of finish, with beautiful typography, perfectly laid out , with no spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. You would be surprised how many CVs I receive that look as if they have been produced with little thought, care or typographic skill. When reviewing CVs for graphic designers I look at the design before I read them, if the design is not up to scratch then I don’t read them.
    This CV should be accompanied with a thought provoking additional piece, designed to engage and catch the eye of the recipient. This piece doesn’t have to be complicated but should be personalised in some way and show a degree of research about the person it is being sent to, including that persons correct name, title and something about that persons business (my agency is based in Leicester but over 50% of applications believe us to be based in London, this shows a lack of research and results in those applications being put straight in the bin!). With the advent of the internet this information is not difficult to find but makes all the difference to the person the application is being sent to. If this piece can graphically be tied to the CV/covering letter and is an outstanding design then you have achieved the perfect package and done all you can to secure an interview!

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