Market Yourself

Presentation is everything

An abundance of jobs ranging from entry level to executive are just waiting to be filled. Now that you've considered your career path, it's time to find the positions that are right for you.

Every job on the planet will require a résumé. Every résumé should be accompanied by a proper cover letter. Preparing, proofing, and perfecting your cover letter and résumé is time well spent when it comes to a successful job hunt.

Your résumé is more than a one-page summary of your education, skills, and work experience. Similarly, the cover letter is more than an introductory greeting. These documents create a first impression on potential employers. Think of the cover letter/résumé package as a marketing brochure advertising you and your strengths. If your job experience is limited, don't be intimidated. The cover letter and résumé are tools for stating your case and winning the job.

Before you apply for any job, research the company and the position. If the company has its own website, explore it. Get to know the company’s product line or service(s). Read the job description. If you know someone who has worked there, contact them to find out more about the company and their experience. The more you know, the better. That way you can tailor your cover letter and résumé to address their specific needs.

The Cover Letter

Use the cover letter to make employers curious to know more about you. Draw them into your résumé by highlighting your strengths and explaining why you are perfect for the position.

  • Avoid using "To Whom It May Concern." Do the necessary research to find out the person who is hiring for the position. This may involve contacting the company's Human Resources Department.
  • Keep the letter to a single page with no more than four paragraphs.
  • Proofread the letter. It must be free from spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors and typos. Have three others proofread the letter, as well.
  • Use high-quality matching stationery. If faxing, make be sure to use clean, white paper free from creases, textures, or patterns.


The Resume

The goal of a resume is to get an interview. Its job is to get you in front of someone who can hire you. Résumés must be clear, concise, and consistent.

  • List your most impressive or recent information first.
  • Keep your résumé short and to the point. Do not fill the page with long paragraphs. Use bullets to mark each fact.
  • Do not include information that is not directly related to the position for which you are applying.
  • Do not list any personal information such as height, weight, age, marital status, number of children, or sex.
  • Avoid using pronouns (my, I, he, she, they, etc.). The employer knows you are speaking about yourself. Sentences should read: “Improved sales by 30%” or “Promoted to head designer.”
  • Keep margins clean.
  • Look over your résumé and decide for yourself what stands out. Employers spend 10-30 seconds scanning a résumé, so use that time to make an impact. Use boldface or capitals to highlight key points.
  • Proofread your résumé. It must be free from spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors and typos. “After the fact” is never a good time to discover you've misspelled your own last name.
  • Use high-quality matching stationery. If faxing, make sure to use clean, white paper free from creases, textures, or patterns.


The Portfolio

A professional portfolio is a collection of the your best work. The portfolio should also contain written information such as your name and the title of each work. Keep in mind that the overall design of a portfolio presents an important visual image to the interviewer. The portfolio itself is a presentation of your design and organizational skills. Carefully select background colors and typeface that may appear in your presentation and the composition of your work on each page or board.

  • Decide what kind of designer you intend to be, and then use portfolio examples to support that image.
  • Evaluate and edit all of your work. Select 12 to 14 good examples to present in your portfolio.
  • Decide how to display your work. Paper pages under vinyl or acetate sheets or boards are the preferred display methods.
  • Neutral colors such as black, white, tan, beige, or gray are the most effective background colors to show off your work.
  • Design a format and organize your work by type. All similar projects should be presented together.
  • Present strong examples of your work at the beginning and again at the end of your portfolio.
  • Pay particular attention to details in the titles and text of your work - spelling, grammar, and typing must be perfect.
  • Maintain consistency in shape, size, and page orientation when planning boards or pages.
  • Practice the order and manner in which you will present your work.
  • Be prepared to discuss why you have included certain types of work and how the work will relate to the job.
  • Regularly update your portfolio and show your latest, most impressive work.

The Reference Sheet

A reference sheet is a one page listing of three professional individuals who can vouch for your work experience to potential employers. Provide a reference sheet only when asked, but be prepared by creating one from the start.

  • Include those who directly supervised your work. If you have not had any previous work experience, your college instructors can often provide appropriate references.
  • If you have any doubts about what the person will say about you, do not use that person. What your professional references say about you is vital. Be sure they would describe you in positive terms.
  • Notify ahead of time those you are listing on your reference sheet before offering it to a potential employer.