There are times in your career where you feel you're not learning much anymore.
And, that would lead you to think about looking for a new job. But, where do you start with all that job hunting? I have some ideas that may help you make the right start.
Making a list
If you had experience dealing with recruitment agencies, you realise that you didn't really get to know your employer until the time you sit for a job interview. You probably don't want this because for me I'd feel I'll never be able to answer the most critical question where you are asked to respond to "why do you want to work for us?". If I can't answer that with honesty, I'm making the best start. I'd much happier if I managed myself some time to choose who I want to work for in the first place. That way I can be true to myself to begin with. The whole point of this is to get a better job so why not do it differently this time?
So, what do I look for?
You would first list out companies that seem to put your profession (design in my case) in the centre of their business. It shouldn't be too difficult to tell by simply going through their websites, seeing how they present their products or services. This is especially true when the work you're looking for revolves around web technology. Current staff structure should also give you some clue of their best interest and vision for the future. Once I get past this point, you would narrow it further down by the type of work they do, the type of client/project they take on and whether there is some kind of innovation reflected through their work. It's critical to get these things right because you will want your next job to be more exciting, challenging and rewarding.
I usually end up with 2-3 companies but sometimes if I truly believe in one company, I just go ahead and devote my full energy into this one company.
Personalising your application
A standard cover letter will do just fine so long as it addresses to the point. But, because I want my application to stand out, I would go the extra mile and set up a web-based cover letter. A web page about what value I can bring to the table and why I want to work for them. Remember, you should be pitching yourself as if a company is selling a product or service to a customer. Think about what sells a product. It's about whether that product can fulfill my particular needs and it's a good value for money.
You may feel this is too much effort for a very small crowd, but if done right it can pay off big time. Besides, setting up a basic web page these days is an instant process. Even if you fail in your first attempt, they can be recycled for the next run.
One other reason I like the idea of a web page is that it's relevant to what I do and it provides more options as to how viewers would interact with my content. With the right execution, people will appreciate the effort and will take you more seriously.
Portfolio is the king
I can't stress enough how crucial it is to have a strong portfolio. Without them no matter how well you may pitch, the likelihood of winning the job is very low. Why? Because it's a business risk to take someone onboard that can't demonstrate their skills. Recruiters will need to be confident that you can deliver the quality work. If you were hiring some design talent, are you willing to take a risk of hiring designers that can't prove themselves?
Last but certainly not least, be active in the design community and use social media wisely. Employers will want to see if you have a genuine interest in design and that you are keen to get even better at it.
Steve Jobs said this once "Anyone can have an idea but not everyone can execute" and I couldn't agree more. For those who will be implementing the same tactics mentioned here will even have a completely different output depending on how it's done.
I hope you execute it well.