Rachel Gibbons is PMG’s Associate Design Director.
Hiring a designer is exciting. A successful candidate brings fresh perspective and elevates our work in unexpected ways. On the flip side, making the wrong hire can impact company culture, cost time and money, and affect business goals. So, what am I looking for from you?
There are 3 key items I focus on when considering a potential candidate.
Your portfolio is strategic in design.
Your portfolio is the most essential component of your application. Before I touch your resume or cover letter, I click to your portfolio. If I don’t see what I’m looking for within a minute or two, I move on.
Remember to display the basics. A glance tells me your strength in design principles: contrast, balance, hierarchy, etc. It doesn’t matter how much B2B or digital experience you’ve had—if I don’t see the foundational elements, a portfolio is nixed.
Clearly tag your work. I may be skimming your portfolio for B2B email design work—save me time by labeling your projects by category. Hiring managers are often pressed for time. If I need to dig to find what I’m looking for, I’m more likely to abandon the review.
Tell me what you contributed. Most designers work on teams comprised of Creative Directors, Art Directors, Copywriters, or other Designers—and the list goes on. I want to know the role you played in bringing the work to life. Were you responsible for concepting, art directing, or defining and executing the visual style? Provide context for your experience and how you’ve worked within teams.
Show a range of work. Showcase different styles, mediums, and brands (if possible). Our designers are agile and often move between B2B brands. One of our clients may have a sophisticated, minimal design aesthetic whereas another may have a dynamic and energetic aesthetic. Make us confident in your ability to adapt to both styles. Our work ranges from digital to print design, so our hires need to have a range of experience. Our team is knowledgable about different mediums and able design for all of them.
Your resume brings credibility & clarity.
If I fall in love with your portfolio, I move on to your resume—so don’t forget to make it easily accessible from your portfolio website! I’m looking to see what types of environments (B2B vs. B2C, agency, in-house) you’ve worked in and your career growth.
Demonstrate a variety of workplace settings. Have you worked in a corporate setting where the process is well defined? Or in a small agency where things move quickly and you needed to be agile? Have you contracted for 5 years and want to jump back into a team environment?
Be explicit about your tenure. Your resume provides cues on how your experience can translate to our agency, how you might fit in, and what you can bring to the table. I also look at tenure. Short stints across multiple roles are a red flag that there may be risk involved in bringing you onto the team. I typically look for 1.5 or more years in a role. It demonstrates stability and commitment.
Address gaps in qualifications. Often times, applicants don’t have all of the experience or qualifications listed in a job description—and that’s ok. Address what aspects may be missing in a cover letter or in the body of your email. If a candidate checks off the majority of what I’m looking for, I’m open to training them in areas where they are less experienced.
Have great references. I’ve been bitten before by not checking references—now it’s a mandatory part of my process. I want to hear from those you’ve worked closely with about you and their experience working with you.
Your soft skills are as impressive as your design chops.
If your portfolio and resume are stellar, we’ll invite you into the shop so we can get to know each other. This is an opportunity to make sure we connect and get a feel for what it would be like to work with you. It’s also your opportunity to get a feel for what it’s like to work with us.
Tell me how you collaborate. I’ve worked with a number of amazing designers that lacked strong interpersonal skills. Throughout our interview process, I place heavy emphasis on behavioral screening. I’m looking for a positive, helpful attitude and desire to bring new ideas to life.
Be prepared to tell some stories. I’ll ask a number of “Tell me about a time where X happened and how you handled it” or “How would your previous coworkers describe you?” questions. Demonstrating your soft skills in your answer will make or break you as a successful candidate.
Your attitude is the kicker. Your outstanding portfolio got you in the door. But when push comes to shove, it doesn’t matter how beautiful your portfolio is—I’d rather hire a mid-level candidate with an incredible attitude than a senior candidate with an ego.
We get it, sometimes B2B marketing design can get a bad rap. At PMG, we prioritize design and understand its full impact. We’re always looking to innovate and elevate. We partner with cool B2B tech and SaaS companies and help them explore powerful design as an effective tool for business. We bring on designers who want the same.