Insights from previous students and employers
This weeks lecture started with a helpful session looking at previous students and employers experiences of the placement application process. These were found on conversation threads in the NI Design Chat on Slack. I found this really helpful. These were the primary points I took away from the session:
- Reach out to companies, even when they’re not advertising a position
- Make sure my cover letter is personalised to the company and the position I am applying for. Employers notice this.
- Take the time to review the companies work and be able to say what I like about it.
- Be passionate and don’t be afraid to show my portfolio as is, at this stage, I’m still learning. What is important is to show my enthusiasm for learning.
- Include side projects in my portfolio.
- During the interview be friendly, demonstrate my personality and how eager I am to learn.
Creating a CV
A CV is a concise formal document that provides information on an applicants experience education and skills. A CV should include the following:
- Contact details
- A short bio
- Work experience
- Awards and Additional Information
Other points to consider are not to include a picture, this is the standard across the UK. Always check your spelling and ensure there are no spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. Work backwards chronologically, avoid obnoxious competency indicators, keep the outcome primarily black and white and always consider white space, this will make the document easier to scan.
Top Tip: Add page references as Page 1 of 2 so that nothing gets missed.
There is some room to be a little more distinctive in the design outcome of a CV in the choice of typography however good judgement should be used here. As a designer, it is important to include a link to your portfolio and be sure that the information included in your CV matches your LinkedIn profile. Where possible a CV should be tailored to match the job being applied for. It is also important, to be honest on a CV and ask permission from References before using them.
Top Tip: Also consider using past clients as references.
Writing a cover letter is one of the parts of the application process that I personally find a bit daunting. So I found some online resources to help me with the process. I found a particularly good Medium article on the topic of writing and structuring a cover letter written by Lauren Gill, Director of Talent at Venture for America. The primary areas covered were as follows.
- Figure out who to address the letter to (this was also covered in this weeks lecture).
- Get a sense of the company/role you’re applying for and adjust your tone of voice accordingly.
- Start the letter with the role you are applying for and how you found it- it’s also helpful to express some enthusiasm here.
- Spend some time talking about the specifics of the company and what you like about their services, ethos, process etc.
- Include 3 core competencies that make you qualified for the role.
- Summarize your 3 core competencies to finish.
This provides a great template for all future cover letters and is definitely a resource I will draw from when writing my own cover letters.
Achieving an active tone of voice
In a Grammarly blog post, Catherine Traffis defines an active voice as
“a sentence [that] has a subject that acts upon its verb”
and a passive voice as
“a subject [that] is a recipient of a verb’s action”
Traffis also includes two examples shown below.
Generally speaking, when writing it is better to use an active voice and to keep the use of a passive voice to a minimum. An active voice is often more effective as it keeps sentence tone strong, direct and clear. A Passive voice is created when the subject is acted on by the verb. This makes sentences more complicated. However, the use of a passive voice can be effective when trying to keep the focus on the object rather than the subject.