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Looking for advice about finding work in London

Discussion in 'Design Jobs & Employment Forum:' started by johnnyfox, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. johnnyfox

    johnnyfox New Member

    Hi Everyone,

    I'm a graphic designer with one year's experience working for a whisky company in the north of Scotland.

    I am looking to find a new position in or around London and would appreciate some advice as to how I should go about this.

    As the only full time member of design/marketing staff, my current job title is Design Manager. However, I am unsure whether I should use this title in my CV - as it would seem to imply a greater level of experience than I have. When applying for jobs in London I tend to find that junior positions best match my skill profile - but would calling myself a Design Manager help or hinder my applications for these roles?

    Also, I am unsure whether it's better to stay in my current job while applying to work in London, or to move down there, making myself close at hand for interview opportunities. Will an employer look more favourably upon someone who is working (albeit at the other end of the country) or someone who is local and available?

    Finally, I would really like to have my CV and portfolio assessed by someone who specialises in creative industry employment. Can anyone recommend some good sources for this?

    Any advice is greatly appreciated and thank-you very much in advance! :icon_smile:

  2. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Firstly hiya.

    Right,.... Getting a Junior Designer role in London is going to be like trying to get bottle of vodka in Boston, Linconshire! Every grad in the south of England will be applying for these positions in London at the moment and to be honest a years experience in-house isn't going to stand you in any better stead than anyone else.

    If you're sure now is the time to move jobs and have a go in the big smoke then look in places like Design Week or contact recruitment agents in London such as Orchard. Digital, Creative and Marketing Recruitment. Any recruitment agency will ask for your portfolio and CV when you submit an application but be warned the recruitment agents that specialise in the creative industry take no prisoners and will rip you to bits given half a chance!
  3. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    I moved to London in the search of a junior designer position when I first graduated so be prepared for something like this:

    1. Realise how expensive it is to rent/eat/live in London
    2. Apply for loads of jobs - don't get any interviews
    3. Contact recruitment agencies - need a minimum of 5 years experience
    4. Take a temporary, mind-numbing job to help pay the rent
    5. Keep applying for jobs, but can't go for any interviews due to the job
    6. Don't have the time to work on folio because the temp job is taking up all the time
    7. Realise you might have been better off getting more experience before moving to London
  4. johnnyfox

    johnnyfox New Member

    Hi Bigdave/sthomas,

    Thanks a lot for your advice, particularly for the helpful links. I'm keen to have my CV looking its best so getting ripped apart wouldn't be such a bad thing at this stage - I'll just need to hope that my designer's thick skin is good enough!

    I think I'll widen my search to include the home counties so i've got a bit more scope. That way i'll at least be closer London than I am at the moment.

    I've gained a good amount of experience in some specific areas of design (branding, packaging) so i'm hoping I can focus on roles that require this knowledge.

    Can you recommend how I should approach the job title issue? Whether I should play up or play down 'Design Manager' when applying for junior roles?

    Thanks again,

  5. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    I wouldn't say that you were the Design Manager - just that you sole responsibility for the design output.

    The title of Design Manager might work against you when employers realise how little design experience you actually have - just be honest in your CV otherwise it might come back to bite you.
  6. Dave L

    Dave L Well-Known Member

    Makes the whole enterprise sound like a fast track to getting spat out the bottom of the sex industry.
  7. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    :) Luckily I managed to land a design job just in time...
  8. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    Just before the sex trade started to make things sting? ;)
  9. daytona

    daytona Member

    thanks for smashing my dreams....:icon_tongue_smilie:
    Maybe i'll just do my degree in london then GTFO!
  10. sthomas

    sthomas Member

    :icon_smile: Sorry for putting you off...
  11. j05hr

    j05hr New Member

    It is a good idea to apply to the home counties there are quite a few places here in Herts anyway. A good resource to use to find work is the job seekers site. If you put in junior designer or whatever and your radius, there is usually quite a lot of decent jobs posted on there and not many apply because not many people use it.

    Directgov jobs and skills search - Job Homepage

    Also portfolio is key, if you have a decent portfolio you will get interviews. There are a lot of people graduating at the moment but I bet your design skills will be better than about 85% of them. So if you can showcase that you will get interviews. Once you get interviews it is all up to you to sell yourself as everyone going into the interview is on a level playing field.

    I wouldn't call myself a design manager in your position. They will ask you why you are applying for junior roles when you've previously been a manager? Never bring negative criticism to yourself. Even in interviews if someone asks what your weakness is tell something that you can turn into a positive. A good example...

    I would try to move to London if it is possible for you to live here without work? They will definitely consider you more if you are in the area rather than if you are in Scotland. They might look at your CV and think oh he's in Scotland, I'll have to phone him to see if he's willing to relocated actually I can't be bothered *toss CV aside* looks at next in the pile...

    Goodluck with whatever you do.
  12. sttcmghtf

    sttcmghtf Member

    For portfolio / CV advice, take a look at this sight:
  13. johnnyfox

    johnnyfox New Member

    Hi j05hr,

    Thanks for your very helpful reply.

    I agree with your point about the job title issue - it does seem like it could do more harm than good at this stage.I think i'll stick with 'Graphic Designer' as that doesn't come loaded with quite the same level of expectation.

    As for moving to London, I certainly couldn't afford to do so without a job - so i'd have to look for work in other areas. My only worry is that this would be seen by employers as a backwards step in my career. Either that or I would struggle to find work doing something retail-based, as employers would probably suspect that I am only trying to fill a gap.

    Thanks for pointing out the jobseeker website and the advice regarding weaknesses/interview questions.

    Also, thanks to sttcmghtf for recommending Consurgo - I wasn't aware of the site before but it looks like it will be very useful.


  14. j05hr

    j05hr New Member

    Hi John,

    That's ok, it's what we're all here for to help each other.

    Yeah exactly re job title, if it can be seen in a negative way keep away from it as much as you can.

    About moving to London, I don't think it would be seen as a backwards step if you went to work in a different field. You could even use it to your advantage. They ask why are you working at Tesco if you want to be a graphics designer? Because I wanted to move to London as my passion is design and I wanted to come and excel working at one of the top agencies of the country. So I had to take a side step to pay the bills to come down here. They will see that as you are really committed and it's what you want to do.

    Also if you can't find any work you might be able to come and claim benefits until you find a job but I'm not sure how that works and if they would give you if you claim to be homeless when you had a job up in Scotland.

    You can still apply for jobs while you are in Scotland, if they reply to you great and if not there is no harm done, there's nothing to lose? Probably best to make sure you make it clear you're willing to relocate and travel down for any interviews if needed before they read your CV, so somewhere in the email body.
  15. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    Can I just add that I know a guy with not one, but SEVEN years of experience who is talented in all design programs, Cinema 4D, and Flash, who has been looking and applying for jobs in London for months and has only had one interview. It's very obviously VERY tough and personally I would say for now, stick where you are.

    I also wholeheartedly believe that you shouldn't have to go to London to make it big. We live in an age of planes, trains and automobiles and that thing called the internet. Location isn't everything ;)
  16. Paul Murray

    Paul Murray Moderator Staff Member

    Agreed, I fail to see the attraction with London. I've been a number of times and always hated it. It's just WAY too big for my liking! :icon_biggrin:
  17. j05hr

    j05hr New Member

    I'm sorry but I don't agree with either of you. It's like if you're a footballer you want to move to Man Utd or Chelsea so you can play at the highest level winning things. Same with design, if you want to work on the biggest projects with the majority of the big agencies in London you would have to move to London.
  18. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    It's nothing like being a footballer, you don't have to move to where the team is, because you're going to be landing work based on your performance and ability and that alone (unless of course you're going to work in an agency in which case, yeah, maybe, but not ALL the good agencies are in London, and it won't always be a London agency that wins the job). Your own performance and ability is not affected by where you live, and as long as you can travel to a client (who also, aren't all in London!) then what's the difference?!
  19. j05hr

    j05hr New Member

    We are talking about two different things. I'm talking about working for a big agency, you are not. I agree if you aren't working for a big agency you can work anywhere.

    I was also careful with my choice of words and said the majority of big agencies are in London not all.

    First example I came to was the creators of the Olympics branding (aside from what you actually think of the design.) They are from London and look at their list of clients. Wolff Olins : Client list

    You are never going to get that list of clientèle working for yourself and surely the majority of people would jump at an opportunity to work on the brands they do?
  20. linziloop

    linziloop Member

    Yeah sorry you're right, we are talking about different things, it would seem we actually agree haha! There are a few noteworthy clients on that list! A few I wouldn't work for for ethical reasons though. I just hate working (and thus making the money for) other people, I'd rather set up my own studio and try and make it big - outside of London. One day! :icon_biggrin: Which is my point really, I do think it is possible to set up an agency outside of London and still make it big - so it doesn't come do down to location as such, it just happens that most big agencies are in London because once upon a time this is where they all decided the work would be. I'm waiting for the day that's not so.

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