Landing Your First Graphic Design Job: Expert Tips
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Build a Strong Portfolio
  2. Learn the Most Popular Design Tools
  3. Network with Industry Professionals
  4. Apply for Internships
  5. Create a Compelling Resume
  6. Prepare for the Interview
  7. Keep Updating Your Skills

Ever wondered how to get a job in graphic design? Well, you're in the right place! This post will walk you through seven expert tips that will set you on the path to landing your first graphic design gig. Whether you're a recent design grad or a self-taught enthusiast looking to break into the industry, these strategies will help you stand out in the competitive world of graphic design.

Build a Strong Portfolio

Your portfolio is your ticket to getting noticed in the graphic design industry. It's what potential employers will look at first, so it needs to be top-notch. Here's how you can build a strong portfolio that showcases your skills and creativity:

  • Include a variety of work: Don't just stick to one style or type of design. Show that you can handle a range of projects, from logos to brochures, from websites to social media graphics. Diversity in your portfolio shows that you're versatile and can adapt to different design needs.
  • Showcase your best work: Quality over quantity is the name of the game here. Include only your best projects that you feel truly showcase your skills and creativity. Remember, your portfolio is a reflection of you as a designer—make sure it's a good one.
  • Detail your process: Employers aren't just interested in the end product; they want to see how you got there. Include sketches, mood boards, or wireframes along with the final design to demonstrate your thought process and problem-solving abilities.
  • Keep it up-to-date: As you continue to grow and improve as a designer, so should your portfolio. Regularly update it with your latest projects to show that you're continually evolving and mastering new design skills.

Remember, your portfolio is more than just a collection of your work—it's a representation of who you are as a designer. So make it count. It could just be the thing that gets you your first job in graphic design!

Once you've got your portfolio in order, it's time to make sure you're up to speed with the most popular design tools in the industry. These tools are the bread and butter of any graphic design job, and mastering them will not only make your job easier but also make you a more attractive candidate to potential employers. So, which tools should you focus on?

  • Adobe Creative Suite: This software suite is a must-know for any graphic designer. It includes Photoshop for image editing, Illustrator for vector graphics, and InDesign for layout and page design. If you can navigate these three tools with ease, you're already ahead of the game.
  • Sketch: This vector graphics editor is a favorite among web and mobile app designers. It's user-friendly and packed with powerful features that can help you create stunning designs.
  • Figma: Figma is a cloud-based design tool that allows for real-time collaboration. It's gaining popularity among designers because of its seamless team collaboration features and user-friendly interface.
  • Canva: While not as advanced as the other tools on this list, Canva is great for quick, easy designs. It's perfect for those times when you need to whip up a social media graphic or flyer on the fly.

Knowing your way around these design tools can make a significant difference in how to get a job in graphic design. Remember, practice makes perfect, so start familiarizing yourself with these tools today!

Network with Industry Professionals

Okay, you've built your portfolio and learned the design tools—nice job. But knowing how to get a job in graphic design involves more than just skills and a portfolio. It's also about who you know. Networking with industry professionals can open doors and opportunities for you that you might never have found on your own. So, how do you start networking?

  • Join Professional Organizations: Groups like the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) or the Graphic Artists Guild offer networking opportunities, resources, and even job boards for members. There's likely a local chapter near you, which is a great way to meet professionals in your area.
  • Attend Industry Events: Design conferences, workshops, and meetups are all excellent places to meet other designers and learn about the latest trends and tools in the industry. Don't be afraid to strike up a conversation and ask for business cards!
  • Connect Online: Sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and design-specific communities such as Dribbble or Behance can be fantastic places to connect with other designers. Follow, comment, and engage with their work to build relationships.
  • Find a Mentor: If you can, find a more experienced designer willing to mentor you. A mentor can provide guidance, advice, and feedback that can be invaluable in your journey to land a job in graphic design.

Remember, networking isn't just about taking—it's about giving too! Be ready to offer help, share your knowledge, and support others. People are more likely to want to help you if they see you as a positive and contributing member of the community.

Apply for Internships

Let's cut to the chase—getting your foot in the door is often one of the hardest parts when figuring out how to get a job in graphic design. That's where internships come in. They're the golden ticket into the industry—a way to gain real-world experience, learn from professionals, and build your resume. So, what's the game plan?

  • Search Targeted Websites: Websites like Internmatch, Behance, and Indeed often have sections dedicated to internships in graphic design. They're a great starting point for finding opportunities.
  • Apply Directly to Companies: Think about the brands and companies you admire. Check their websites for internship opportunities. Even if they don't have any listed, don't be shy—send them an email expressing your interest. They may keep you in mind for future opportunities.
  • Utilize Your Network: Remember the networking we talked about? Put it to use! Reach out to your contacts to see if they know of any internships. A personal referral can make a big difference.
  • Prepare Your Application: Tailor your resume and portfolio to each internship you apply for. Show them why you're a perfect fit for their company, not just any company.

Don't be discouraged if you don't land an internship right away. It's a competitive field, so it may take a few tries. Stay persistent, keep refining your application, and remember—every "no" is one step closer to a "yes."

Create a Compelling Resume

Okay, you've got your portfolio humming and you're applying for internships. But wait! Don't forget about your resume. It's your chance to showcase what you bring to the table. So, how do you make your resume stand out in the graphic design world?

  • Showcase Your Skills: List out your skills in a clear, easy-to-read format. This includes both your technical skills (like Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign) and your soft skills (like communication, problem-solving, and time management).
  • Highlight Your Experience: Have you done any freelance work? Completed a design-related project in school? Volunteered to design a flyer for a local event? Include these in your experience section, even if they weren't paid jobs.
  • Include Your Education: If you have a degree or certification in graphic design, make sure to include it. If not, don't sweat it—many successful designers are self-taught. Just make sure to highlight any relevant courses or workshops you've attended.
  • Make It Visually Appealing: As a graphic designer, your resume should also be a testament to your design skills. Keep it clean, professional, and visually appealing. Use typography, color, and layout to your advantage. Remember, less is often more.

One last thing: always tailor your resume to the job you're applying for. Show the hiring manager that you're not just a great graphic designer—you're the right graphic designer for their specific needs. So, keep it fresh, keep it focused, and above all, keep it true to you.

Prepare for the Interview

Next up on the "how to get a job in graphic design?" list is the interview. This can make even the most confident among us a little nervous. But hey, you've got this. Here's how to prepare:

  • Do Your Homework: Get to know the company you're interviewing with. What's their style? What's their culture? Who are their clients? Knowing this can help you better tailor your responses and show you're serious about the job.
  • Prepare Your Portfolio: Your portfolio isn't just for your website. You'll want to bring it along to your interview, too. Be prepared to talk about your work, your process, and your ideas in depth.
  • Practice Common Interview Questions: While every interview is different, there are some common questions you can expect. Questions like, "What's your design process?" or "Can you describe a time when you had to meet a tight deadline?" are very common. Practice your answers beforehand, but remember, genuine responses are better than scripted ones.
  • Have Questions Ready: An interview is a two-way conversation. Make sure to have some questions ready for your interviewer. It shows you're engaged and serious about the role. You could ask about the company's design philosophy, what a typical day looks like, or what sort of projects you'd be working on.

Remember, the goal of an interview is not just to land the job—it's to see if this is the right job for you. So, be yourself, be prepared, and good luck!

Keep Updating Your Skills

Knowing how to get a job in graphic design is one thing; keeping that job and advancing in your career is another. The world of graphic design is always changing, and the tools and techniques you learned a few years ago might not cut it today. That's why it's important to keep updating your skills.

  • Stay Curious: Keep an eye on the latest trends and developments in graphic design. What's gaining popularity? What's falling out of favor? Staying on top of these changes can keep your designs fresh and relevant.
  • Keep Learning: Whether it's a new software tool like Adobe XD, or a new design technique like responsive design, there's always something new to learn in graphic design. Online platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or Lynda offer a wealth of courses to help you stay sharp.
  • Participate in the Community: Joining graphic design communities can be a great way to learn new skills. You might pick up some tips and tricks from more experienced designers, or get feedback on your work. Plus, it's a great way to network!
  • Experiment: Don't be afraid to try new things in your work. Experimentation can lead to innovation, and it can help you develop a unique style that sets you apart from other designers.

Remember, the best designers are those who never stop learning. So, keep your curiosity high and your fingers on the pulse of the design world, and you'll be well on your way to a successful career in graphic design.

If you're eager to land your first graphic design job and want to gain valuable insights into the freelance world, check out Indi's workshop, 'Daily Workflow of a Freelance Illustrator.' This workshop will give you a glimpse into the daily life of a freelance illustrator and help you understand the skills and habits you need to develop to succeed in the creative industry.