HOW DESIGNERS HACK THE HIRING PROCESS
At Nemo, one of our core tenets is to be disruptive. We’re always looking to break things if they’re stale and boring–“be disruptive” is literally written on the walls in our office. This is why we can appreciate it when a job applicant turns our hiring process upside down. If you’re on the quest for a job, the first thing you need to look for is an opening. And by opening we don’t mean a help wanted ad. We mean an opening approach that will make your work stand out in a sea of sameness, and get you on the radar of those doing the hiring.
Here’s the problem you face when you look for a gig: Applying has become as easy as making a PDF and sending an email. In 2013, Nemo had nine job openings and received over 1,000 resumes. Many applicants presented work that was quite good, making it tough to choose.
While personal recommendations and a strong portfolio help, some of our best employees landed a job at Nemo because they did something extra to get noticed. They didn’t politely knock on the front door–instead they came around back, climbed up the fire escape and jumped through the skylight like Batman.
Recently relocated designer Gerrit Creps hacked his way past our hiring manager directly to the decision makers and his future coworkers using two essential tools of creatives everywhere: donuts and coffee. Here’s his story in 5 steps.
STEP 1: DON’T WAIT FOR PERMISSION
"My old job was the worst. I didn’t care about the work I was doing and was living in the middle of nowhere, Nebraska. I needed to get out, feel like I was contributing to something important and creating cool shit. I felt it every day and so I acted on it."
Whether you’re a recent graduate, or just ready for a new gig, listen to your drive for creative challenges and take action.
STEP 2: FIND THE RIGHT FIT FOR YOUR SUPERPOWER
"I figured out the things that really matter to me in a work situation and where I could get some of that. In my case, the answer was Nemo because of its strong background in the graphics and visuals of action sports that inspire the culture in the office where people are friends. The company motto is collective progression. There’s a keg for when you’re thirsty. Nemo has clients I wanted to work for and people I wanted to work with. I knew I could bring passion and expertise to the work and also that I’d fit right in with the good people. My goal was to highlight my action-culture-inspired-graphics-illustration-and-packaging-design superpower."
To find the answer for yourself, ask what makes you an awesome human. Then fire up the internet, do some research, figure out where you think you belong and get after it.
STEP 3: GET OUT OF LINE
"Once I targeted Nemo I didn’t want to blow my chance or go totally unnoticed. I had good work to show but it was still just another designer’s portfolio. Everyone at Nemo had seen a million of them. I had to stand out from the pile of resumes and Cargo Collective sites. My mission: to make my portfolio an experience instead of a shitfest of web clicks. It was time to get wild so I could get hired. I knew I had no margin for boring."
You get one chance to make a first impression–or any impression–better make it awesome.
STEP 4: BE DISRUPTIVE
"I wanted to do something that required engagement, not something that could ever be glossed over. My plan was to create an experience to entice them to follow my set steps. Each of those steps gave my work and my name a chance to pop back up. I wanted to interrupt their day and thought process—there’s no way anyone forgets me after I’ve messed with their routine. Make the engagement cool and people won’t forget the ride you sent them on. I started with donuts…"
STEP 5: CONNECT ALL THE DOTS
"I knew graphic designers live on caffeine. Who the hell can turn down a good donut to go with all that coffee? I applied my illustration and design skills to create some tactile packaging, hijacking the Nemo brand identity to make sure they knew it was customized for them and not just a generic “to whom it may concern” approach. I built some Gerrit Creps branded details explaining who I am and what I was up to, and wrote personal letters to each decision-maker (hiring manager, art director, creative director, a couple of longtime designers) receiving my box of awesomeness. The donut-themed experience was the opening bite; I wanted to get the people to look at my stuff to make the jump to my website. I updated my site to pick up the experience and acknowledge Nemo’s hungry stakeholders as I showed them more sweet creative. I also wanted to get the whole shop talking about me. From Nebraska, I coordinated with a local Portland donut shop and sent a mountain of actual donuts to the Nemo studio. I went big and right for their heart and it paid off even bigger."
So there’s your brief on how to get a dream gig, but your approach should be unique. Know who you are going after and tailor your experience to that company and the people who work there. Don’t just make a bunch of noise to get noticed. Figure out their favorite type of music and write a new song in that genre, so to speak.
And make sure you spam Nemo’s