Getting a design job

by Monica Tournoux

Most Asked Questions Answered

Design Central is always looking for talent to join our creative team. We remember what it can be like as a new graduate or a professional in transition seeking a new position with a design consultancy. The task can seem daunting and having peers critique your work even more so. We created this question and answer guide of the questions we get asked the most to help make you more successful as you look for the career that is right for you.

WHAT DO WE LOOK FOR IN A PORTFOLIO?

We are looking for portfolios with well-rounded competency that tell a very clear story on how designers think. It is critical to us that portfolios don't just show finished work or flashy ID sketches and renderings. We need to see the messy upfront thinking, the exploration and progression – the realness of the work. Product design isn't just “let's solve a problem and make something beautiful.” Product design is really a process where learning by trial and error is continual and critical. It is stacks of sketches, process photos and requires proof that a product can ACTUALLY be made. Portfolios that illustrate an understanding of mechanics, material and manufacturing are a plus -- but we realize that those things aren't as easily learned in school as they are in the field.

HOW MANY PAGES SHOULD MY PORTFOLIO BE?

This is by far our most asked question when talking to students and our answer may surprise you. On average most portfolios are 30-50 pages. We are less concerned about an exact page count. We’ve seen portfolios ranging from 10 pages to 100 pages – because what is most important to us is that your story is clear and can be understood if you are not present to support it. Your work should speak for itself, even without the copy, at first review.

SHOULD I INCLUDE MY LESS-THAN-STELLAR SKETCHES?

Yes, if it helps in telling your story. Refined sketches are great to look at, but in product design, we are incredibly process oriented. Sketching is a tool. It’s important to show your process and how you think. You don’t want to redo all your sketches to highly refined status if that’s not true to your process. However, if there are sketches in your portfolio that you can improve, by all means update your work to reflect what you are capable of now. We love to see process, growth, and how YOU think. So, leave those napkin sketches in!

SHOULD I INCLUDE OUTSIDE WORK?

We love to see that you can design, follow a process, find solutions and execute with a high level of fidelity. However, our favorite question to ask during an interview is, “so, when you’re not designing, what else do you like to do in your available time?” We ask this because we like to look for well-rounded candidates to join the team. Your work is part of what gets you in the door, your personality is what can keep you here.

HOW CAN I MAKE MY PORTFOLIO STAND OUT?

Your work will stand out if it showcases your design ability, visualizes your story in a clear and aesthetically pleasing way and showcases your unique talents and passion, all while being thoughtfully executed with attention to detail. It should also show that you understand the company you are applying to. If you are applying to a consultancy that has a broad portfolio, your portfolio should also display a variety of content. For example, showing projects that focus on consumer goods, toys, furniture, and medical products demonstrate a wide variety and breadth of work to give dimension to your portfolio. But overall, your portfolio should reflect your abilities within design and how you creatively solve problems.

WHAT'S THE BEST FORMAT TO SEND MY WORK?

There are a few ways to get your information to us for a portfolio review and interview. Go to the careers page on our website which features open positions with instructions for applying. If a position you are interested in isn’t listed send your resume and portfolio in pdf form to careers@designcentral.com.  We will keep your information on file for future openings. Please remember these guidelines about emailing information to us at Design Central:

  • Send all information in PDF format
  • Maximum size is 25 MGS
  • Make sure the PDF opens prior to sending
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