What would you do?


New Member
Hi all,

I've got a dilemma and I was hoping for some advice or opinion on the best course of action.

Basically I finished uni (BA Communication Design) and set up a clothing company, that went well for 3years and it gave me loads of experience but it reached a point where it wasn't financially viable any more. After that I set my sights on an agency position. After enquiring and having a few interviews the feedback I received was that my portfolio needed more diversity. To remedy this I have worked as a freelancer for 2 years on evening and weekends alongside my uninspiring day job in market research. I taught myself basic Dreamweaver earlier this year and put together an online portfolio www.joehoughton.co.uk .

My situation is that I am re-locating from the midlands to Fareham near Portsmouth in 6 weeks and ideally I would love find a new job in an agency down there but I am not sure of the best course of action to achieve this goal. I have my CV sorted, the website, business cards so I feel it's all in place but I don't know whether to contact the agencies directly, use recruitment companies or just wait for jobs to come up? At the minute I plan to do all of the above but I don't want to ruin my chances with prospective employers if it's not the done thing to go to them directly. Is agency experience essential?

Basically I would like to know what you would do in my shoes?!

Best wishes
I'd do it all. Recruitment companies can be good, but there's nothing like a face to face. You don't mention whether you've got a good old fashioned actual portfolio. If you haven't, get one - I find people much prefer to see the actual piece, especially if it's an item that was intended to be printed.
Thanks Mark,

I really appreciate the reply and I will take your advice, i'm glad I asked! I have got a portfolio, it's fairly simple like the site but hopefully it is effective. Time will tell!

I like your site by the way, the attitude is bang on ** I can make it happen for you but I haven't got time for idiots.** that was my interpretation anyway.

Thanks again,
lol thanks Joe, glad you like it.

And you're welcome on the advice. I just wish forums like this had been available when I was starting out.
I've actually noticed a few agencies that state on their web site, when they advertise positions, strictly no contact by recruitment agencies. So I would research design agencies and contact them directly also, some of them really want nothing to do with recruitment companies. And I personally have found them to be a complete waste of time. I got more calls to interview by contacting design agencies myself, than I ever did going through a recruitment company.
Thanks Jason,

I know what you mean, I haven't had any good experiences with them in the past, but I guess i'm just optimistic! I have noticed that they don't have a great reputation with the guys on here either :icon_biggrin:

It's good to hear that you think the direct route is more favourable as its the one I personally prefer. I never feel like those recruitment guys really give a monkeys about anything but their pockets... :icon_cursing: I can feel a rant coming on so i'll leave it there!

Thanks again,
feel like those recruitment guys really give a monkeys about anything but their pockets...

Hehe I hear ya man, enough for me to give one very large recruitment agency a very damming review on googlemaps. Justice is served. Take that multimillion dollar corporation! :icon_biggrin:

...well it made me feel better, and that's the main thing
Ive found recruitment agencies to be run by eliteist snobs. The big ones (Purple, Orchard etc...) all seem to have a view that unless you have 4+ years STUDIO (not freelance) experience youre no good at what you do, regardless how rounded your portfolio.

I was actually told by Orchard Suites that they wouldn't consider me a suitable candidate for ANY position the had available because (in their words) 'If you don't get picked up at your end of year creative show at uni, you're clearly not employable.' This was before they'd seen my portfolio or heard my reasons for being out of work (victim of the recession)!! Now if that doesn't smack of eliteist snobbery, I dont know what does.

My advice to you is to forget the big recruitment agencies. If you happen across a job one of them is advertising, bang a CV in but dont expect much. Design agencies are more likely to interview you if youve grown a set of nuts and banged on the door. Even if they dont want you now, they may be able to give you some useful advice or even better know someone who does need a junior creative!!

Remember, its not what you know, its who you know! Theres bound to creative groups, gatherings etc... around Porthsmouth
My advice to you is to forget the big recruitment agencies. If you happen across a job one of them is advertising, bang a CV in but dont expect much.

Here here, I would second that sentiment. Like he said, the bigger agencies are especially guilty of snobbery. I've had plenty of promises over the phone, "oh we will do this and do that, we will call you to let you know". I have a few years actual industry experience under my belt and these people were still a waste of time. Just do what dave says, throw in a cv and forget about it. It's a numbers game to them, they don't give a fig about you or getting you into a job role. Ask around at the source, even if a particular web company don't have vacancies they are usually quite helpful and can give you advice on where to look. Especially on where the creative groups hang out etc etc
Thanks lads,

That's what I will do. I'd much rather deal with a working designer who I can respect. Any recommendations on approach? Email, post, phone call, turn up on the doorstep etc? I'm thinking email and post at the moment, but then I suppose they are both easily ignored, maybe try out a few follow up phone calls and see how they go down.

And thats a good idea about the local networking thanks Dave, I do half know a bloke who works for a web design place down there.. that's a start, got a feeling he may become my new best mate :icon_wink:

I think email followed with phonecall is good. Try to come across as not pestering for work though. Try "I'm a new designer in the area, having researched I found your company (name) particularly knowledgeable local experts. I was hoping you could help me with..." then continue from there. I'm by no means an expert in writing this kind of stuff, but try and give yourself a different angle to all the other hundreds of designers who pester companies for work. Might give you an edge and a foot in the door. Just a thought. Also, try to find out who the head designers are and contact them, no good if you have to deal with a secretary as they are very good at deflecting your efforts! I heard a good approach is to build up some rapport first, then arrange a short informal meeting to show off your portfolio etc. Obviously keep the "desperately looking for work" badge low key. If your really good and you impress them, they should at the very least be able to point you in the right direction.

And yeh, get on to that guy you know. I'm sure there will be a few rounds on you in the local :p
Nice one thanks Jason I really appreciate the advice. Strategic carpet bombing of the south coast is a go!! :icon_thumbup:
I think approach depends on how well you sell yourself in different situations?

If you tend to get nervous and ramble, dont jump in to a face to face situation. Write an email read it, sleep on it and re-write it to make sure you're to the point. Attach your CV and hit the send button. give it a week and then post a CV and covering letter, highlighting the main points in your email.

If you are a personable person and you can think on your feet without shooting your mouth off (its alot harder than it sounds) then do the whole email thing but Dont post your CV 2nd time, hand deliver it. remember it will be like an interview in casual clothes! lol
Nice one cheers Dave, that makes sense. I think i'm pretty personable and I but at the moment it'll cost £25 in petrol to hand deliver it! Saying that I am due to go down fairly soon so I'll get the emails sent first an take it from there.