Ask DN: Why is it so hard to find a junior design job?

over 7 years ago from , Designer

I feel like I've been applying to a million jobs, and they all want me to have more experience but how do I get there if I'm stuck in this never ending circle?

Are junior positions just not a thing or what?


  • Dan SherrattDan Sherratt, over 7 years ago

    I've just hired a Junior Designer, whittled down from over a hundred applicants, here's what I'd recommend....

    Cover Letter, I know it gets tiring writing multiple cover letters and it's tempting to write a short template and copy/paste, but if you really wanted the job at a company, you'd tell them as much in the cover letter.

    Portfolio. Needs to have immediate impact, I looked at each and every portfolio sent to me before any CV, I'd also dismiss people entirely on a poor portfolio without looking at their CV. Experience is irrelevant if you've spent your time well and have a lot to show for it.

    Clutter. Be direct, to the point, don't have 'Skill Gauges' on your CV or Portfolio, I don't need to know you've got 1 star of ability in Dreamweaver, I'd prefer to see that you once spent a weekend redesigning the branding for your local bar.

    Be Prepared. Sounds obvious, but be yourself in any interview situation, it surprised me how often I was given nervously rehearsed stock interview answers to my questions. Interviews might seem daunting but it's just another conversation with someone you want to be working alongside the following week, have some real questions about the company and the individual, do they have any personal projects?

    Know what you want. Sometimes applying for so many jobs becomes a blur, and all you want is just to be employed. You should know the value of good design and expect the person interviewing you to as well. Don't settle for a bone being thrown your way.

    Hope this helps.

    42 points
  • Philip Dickinson, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    You have your first job already... You

    Establish the Brand that is Folake Osibodu

    Market yourself like a company. Be professional Have Business Cards, mailers. Sell yourself Network like crazy. Be Everywhere. Behance, Dribbble, Linkedin, Facebook (though not on a personal level, ie. drunken Party pics) Research all the companies you want to work at within your local area. Target your favourites. Why not just walk in and ask them what they're looking for and remember to leave them with something impressive, a physical contact method like a card or postcard with links to an online presence. Most companies are willing to chat if they have time. Find out where all the creative folks hang out and go and hang and chat, research. Find out about local meet-ups in your field. Build up a portfolio with redesigns of your choosing. This will show how you tackle real-world instances, showing Before and After and how you improved what you did and how long it took. Be professional, Spellcheck and grammar check everything (with your eyes, not software). Sell yourself give them a reason to hire you or, at least, keep you in mind.So in a nutshell - Research, Market, Brand, Network, Sell.

    6 points
    • Johnson VinoJohnson Vino, over 7 years ago

      Really perfect explanation man... Could you please suggest me how to grab attention of big companies like google and facebook

      0 points
  • Ben Haddock, over 7 years ago

    I'd look to bigger agencies for junior positions, they're more likely to have the money and resources to take on juniors and help train them up.

    4 points
  • Amy Thornley, over 7 years ago

    Because places can't afford time to train up Junior designers. Junior designers make mistakes, they need more time and coaching and a lot of places are so fast paced there just isn't the time or room for risk.

    My approach was to take any job in the industry to gradually worm myself into Junior Designer. It is tough, don't give up!

    4 points
  • Jake SharpeJake Sharpe, over 7 years ago

    I think it's all about your portfolio and trying to strike up a relationship with designers at agencies on twitter, dribbble etc.

    The sad truth is that most of my friends currently in Junior Positions at decent agencies, did 3 months on a minimum wage internship.

    Hang in there bud.

    3 points
  • Toby ShorinToby Shorin, over 7 years ago

    Also because everyone is desperate for the the kind of talent and experience that junior designers simply don't have :/

    3 points
  • Steven McClenningSteven McClenning, over 7 years ago

    I am looking to hire a junior position in Connecticut (close to New York via Metro North Train). We design financial software. If you are smart, hard working, reliable and have a good portfolio get in touch. smcclenning@ibkr.com

    2 points
  • Thomas Michael SemmlerThomas Michael Semmler, over 7 years ago

    That still highly depends on your location, as far as I can tell. In addition to that, I see a lot of people being way too focused on a specific aspect of the job (not implying, that that is the case with you). The web sometimes makes it seem like there are thousands of open positions for something very specific, and that is not the case. I see, especially here, a lot of rather unexperienced people looking for an "entry position in UX design." I am sure there is something like this nowadays, but people don't do 3 projects and then become UX engineers at uber.

    they all want me to have more experience but how do I get there if I'm stuck in this never ending circle?

    Just make something. There are websites that can send you fake project briefs for you to design for, or take a brand that you think has done a poor job and try to make it better, make a website for your favourite kind of tea, design a poster for a band you are into for a concert you wish they had in your town. That will show off your skills.

    But ultimately, just be a bit patient. I'm sure you'll get what you need :D

    2 points
  • Michael Ragland, over 7 years ago

    Over the past four months of looking for an entry level position in UX, I have not once seen an announcement for a junior position. However some classmates of mine managed to find occasional freelance gigs or contract positions through recruiters.

    2 points
    • Account deleted over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

      More and more, many jobs don't really need to be posted very publicly. A lot of time, they can get what they need simply through networking. Recco's from current employees, people a hiring manager worked with in the past, etc. A lot of time, this is WAY more valuable, because there is already someone vouching for the prospect.

      During this process (and maybe even after they have already found the person they want), they will place the job posting on their website - and ONLY there. This way they avoid any equal opportunity issues here in the states. If someone does stumble upon the job though on the site, the employer must earnestly look them over by law.

      TLDR: Most positions never hit the public "wire" and talent is sourced through networking. Network more if you are junior. Go to AIGA events, Creative Mornings, etc.

      2 points
  • Terry OTerry O, over 7 years ago

    Fuck it, just go it alone.

    1 point
  • Joshua HynesJoshua Hynes, over 7 years ago

    My 2 cents here: This isn't a problem relegated to junior designers. This problem exists no matter how much experience you have. While you might qualify for more jobs when you have more experience, you also will have more demands then you do right now (because you're older and possibly have more responsibilities to consider) and finding a match with an employer is still a problem.

    My advise here piggybacks on what others have said:

    • Keep gaining experience.
    • Continue to pushing yourself personally.
    • Don't be limited by a job title. If the job description sounds interesting, APPLY! The worst they can say is "no!".
    • And speaking of "No's", you'll get a lot of them. But a no isn't always because of you. It's because for one reason or another, the people on that team didn't feel you were a good fit for them at that time. Personal fact: the last time I was looking for a job, I applied to almost 100 jobs. You feel you're overwhelmingly getting rejections all the time. Only about 15-20 places reached out to interview me. And they all were interesting and exciting companies, but for one reason or another, most of those said no in the end. Yet all I needed was one to say yes.
    1 point
  • Graham Odds, over 7 years ago

    I believe it's because most places don't have the capacity or existing designers to provide the support a junior designer needs to grow. They need people they can throw straight in at the deep end, but the supply currently doesn't meet the demand.

    It's specifically because of this that we're taking a longer term view at Scott Logic and have a graduate programme (of sorts) to pick up the best junior designers and grow them into the big hitters we need. It's frustrating that other places who do exactly this for developers and other roles aren't trying to do it for designers.

    1 point
  • Toby ShorinToby Shorin, over 7 years ago

    Because there aren't enough intermediate-level designers in this industry for some reason

    1 point
  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, over 7 years ago

    Have you tried looking on Twitter? (random thought)

    1 point
  • Luis OuriachLuis Ouriach, almost 6 years ago

    I know this post is a year old, but I thought I'd chip in with something I've pushed the 'live' button on. I've been working on a website and daily newsletter targeted primarily at junior designers, equipping them with articles, freebies, global (junior) design jobs and daily podcasts to up-skill and keep abreast of the market.

    You can see my progress over on juniordesignjobs.com.

    0 points
  • Josué Gutiérrez Valenciano, over 7 years ago

    My problem is more with international remote jobs, I would love to work with an US company just In my house in Costa Rica, is a lot cheaper for companies and good quality can be reached.

    0 points
  • Mike FrettoMike Fretto, over 7 years ago (edited over 7 years ago )

    Folake, hello!

    Jr. positions are definitely a thing here at Tuft & Needle. We'd love for you and others in your situation to apply. :)



    0 points
  • A Paul, over 7 years ago

    Start a freelance business.

    0 points
  • Qian Chen, over 7 years ago

    I took a look at your portfolio as well, you need more detailed case studies. Do you have a seperate pdf in which you send? It's also important to learn how to articulate your process.

    I struggled as well (graduated school last year), so I took on a bunch of freelance projects and recently moved to New Zealand for a working holiday from the US. Now I am leading UX on a project. I still have alot to learn but I don't consider myself at a junior level anymore.

    You can email me at qchen5943@gmail.com if you want to have a conversation

    0 points
  • Todd Padwick, over 7 years ago

    it took me 6 months to find my first design role after uni and even that was an unpaid internship for a further 3 months. To get this role i painstakingly hand bound 40 or so portfolio books, handed them out to various agencies around London, and out of that 40 only one responded - and that was the job I landed. It was a difficult, and depressing time of my life, but it taught me invaluable lessons and makes me appreciate where I am today. 6 years of industry experience at 3 different agencies later I now am successfully starting my own business. Its really hard being a junior designer but put the work in, and don't give up on yourself and you will make it through. Imagine how many other junior designers are applying for the same places you are, and put yourself in their shoes... ask yourself, what will make you stand out more than any one of the others.

    0 points
  • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, over 7 years ago

    Twitter says you have a UI Designer position at a Fortune 500. But I don't see any of your work from that position. What's the story there?

    You need more work in your portfolio. The only end to end website design in there isn't convincing enough for me to hire you. I look at a junior/mid-level designer's portfolio and think about how much time and effort I'll have to put into molding them into a designer who can deliver work to one of our clients. If that distance is super far, I'm out.

    0 points
  • John PJohn P, over 7 years ago

    Incredibly low barrier of entry.

    Look for internships instead and work your ass off to transition it into a full time jnr position. Almost all our jnr hires started out as interns or interned with us before graduating.

    0 points
  • Alexander RadsbyAlexander Radsby, over 7 years ago

    From what I see it it's not often people hire Juniors. Maybe in bigger agencies. In Sweden we usually go for paid internships to getting hired as a junior. So we know what you're capable of+what you need to improve on.

    0 points
  • Celia Yarwood, over 7 years ago

    Prove to them you can do the job. Perhaps a pre-interview project.

    0 points
  • Stan HerbenStan Herben, over 7 years ago

    Maybe try to do some legit side project work? Or find some smaller freelance work so you can build up your portfolio.

    0 points
  • Sander VisserSander Visser, over 7 years ago

    What do you call a junior position? If you're competing against junior designers with solid portfolios and yours is nearly empty, I think they would probably prefer one of the others.

    0 points