We’re looking for a graphic designer at the moment. When we couldn’t get any suitable recommendations from friends we turned to the freelance boards.
When the job was up and posted we expected to get a few copy and pasted responses. But in fact about 90% of the proposals we received made no effort to address the brief at all. Unbelievably, the majority didn’t include a message of any kind, they just sent a link to a portfolio.
We haven’t received a single one that addressed every point.
The brief was to redesign our app and make it iOS 7 ready. Here’s what we said we wanted:
- Someone who loves their work and takes great pride in it
- A portfolio full of great iOS app designs, iOS icon designs and iOS app marketing material (the initial work is for the UI design, but we’ll need the other stuff eventually)
- Links to live apps in the App Store
- A great communicator who can help us get the most out of the experience
Straight away, the designers who just fired us a link failed the ‘great communicator’ test. Here’s what I think the rest could have done better.
why do you want this job?
This is key. As someone building a product I’m 100% into it. I want to hear that the applicant wants to be part of this.
If you went for a real life job interview the first question you’d be asked is: “Why do you want to work for this company?”
Applying for freelance work is pretty much like a job interview, right? Only without the pressure of a face to face meeting.
If you can’t think of a reason you want the work then save yourself and the hirer some time and don’t apply for the job.
Think about it from my perspective: This project is my life, why would I hire someone who can’t raise enough enthusiasm to tell me why they want to work on it too?
If you do want the work, put the time into writing something that convinces me of this.
The next thing you’d get asked in a job interview is “why do you think you are suitable for this role?”
If you don’t have the experience required, don’t apply for the job
If you have similar experience, but not quite what is asked for AND you really want the job then go into detail about why you think it’s relevant and put extra emphasis into the ‘why’ part. Sell it to me.
how to showcase your work
If you can demonstrate you want to the work and have the required experience, you’re probably in the top 50% of candidates so far.
But your portfolio has be convincing. This is your ace in the hole, the one opportunity you have to demonstrate the kind of skills and innovation we’re looking for. I was surprised to find that even the few candidates who came across well in other areas didn’t take the time to get this right:
1. don’t send a portfolio
That’s right. I’m getting more than a hundred responses to my job post, I don’t want to have to trawl through your 50Mb PDF file trying to identify the examples that are relevant to me.
I want to see two or three (or even one) highly relevant piece of work
So don’t send your whole portfolio, pick out the most relevant things and send those. Include an explanation about why you think those items are relevant. If you can demonstrate that you understand what the hirer wants, you’ll be able to create a much better connection with them.
2. do send graphics that present your work clearly
This was another surprising one. I’m looking for an iPhone app designer, right? So I want to see iPhone screens. I want to see the detail of the UI you’ve slaved over and crafted. I don’t want to see something rendered in 3D or something so over-designed that it obscures your work.
The screens here look really well designed. At least the first one does… if I tilt my head a bit. The others look like they might be well designed, but it’s hard to be sure because they’re hidden.
Don’t use nice effects at the expense of making it easy to view your work
3. do send real world examples
Even better than properly presented graphics is a live product. In fact, if you have links to a product in the App Store, you don’t even need to send graphics.
Only 2% of applications sent us links to apps in the store
That’s even though we specified that we wanted to see links in the brief. For the rest, we had to dig around ourselves to check if their designs had indeed made it into the store. It’s a lame excuse to say you can’t provide a link because you were ‘just’ the designer – if we could find them (eventually), then so could you.
If you can send promo codes too it shows a level of proof and confidence that will be impossible to ignore
Don’t have promo codes for your previous work? Ask the developer/hirer for a few, even offer to buy them of them. Trust me, sending promo codes will make you look great.