The Next Step: 20 ways to land your first job

We asked a bunch of successful creatives how they secured their first job in the industry. ‘What are you up to these days, Spadge?’ they asked, ‘oh piss off’ I replied. Here’s how to follow their diamond-clad footsteps:

  1. 1. Try everything and see what sticks – paid internships, placements, business training, freelance projects, personal projects and applying for jobs like a boss.

  1. 2. Be prepared to work for free if it means you can get a foot in the door at a decent agency. Hopefully then they’ll see you’re keen and give you an opportunity.

    2. free

  1. 3. Call before emailing your CV and introduce yourself. Ask for the email address of the person responsible or better still, visit their office and hand over your CV in person.

    3. call

  1. 4. Do something extra in your own time to build your experience, this will show initiative and ambition, and may lead you to a path you may have not otherwise found!

    4. extra

  1. 5. Get feedback from your failed interviews to learn for next time!

    5. interview

  1. 6. Have 6 strong projects in your portfolio instead of 12 with tonnes of filler

    6. filler

  1. 7. Apply for everything, even if you think the job is out of your league.

    7. high

  1. 8. Apply if the job is amazing but the commute or the hours are terrible.

    8. commute

  1. 9. Apply even if you think you’re above a role. If they’re a large company, you may impress them and work your way up the ladder quickly. At the very least, it will provide a momentary boost for those moments when your ‘dream jobs’ let you down.

    9 above

  1. 10. Go over your CV with a fine toothed comb and make it simple and to the point.

    10. cv

  1. 11. Make yourself a bank of knowledge for whichever company you are applying for. Find out their mission/value statements, what their objectives are, long term goals, and then work out how you would fit into them and help to make them a reality.

    11. knowledge

  1. 12. Be pro-active: rather than wait for a job to fall in your lap, create your own work for friends, family, charity, local businesses etc.

    12. proactive

  1. 13. Tell them you need enough money to live off, and are open to any reasonable offers. That way you avoid under/over-valuing yourself, and leave it up to them to decide.

    13. survive

  1. 14. Do be able to demonstrate your skills, be ready to prove yourself and expect to be quizzed on it.

    14. demonstrate

  1. 15. Get yo’self on LinkedIn. I got spotted on LinkedIn by the company that now employs me as a full-time designer.

    15. linkedin

  1. 16. Go to lots of networking and industry-related events. The people you meet may be the people who help you further down the line.

    16. networking

  1. 17. See what your university offers grads – business training, paid internships with agencies etc.

    17. uni

  1. 18. Be confident, think positive, breathe and take it steady!

    18. positive

  1. 19. Be willing to learn.


  1. 20. Keep an up to date, online portfolio, whether it be a showreel of work, an image gallery or even if the creativity is more musically focused – get yourself a decent site with a wicked layout. Even if you don’t have any website building skills, using something like will provide you with everything you need to set up a website that looks professional and will stand out.

    20. laptop

I wish I’d read the same advice back when I graduated.

Don’t hate these guys too much for living their dream, your time will come. But, just incase it doesn’t, there’s a list of ‘ways to ruin your career’ coming up real soon, from the same smug-faces.

Anyway, back I go to shining their shoes.

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