I am a graduate finding it very difficult to get my first job. In fact, I am finding it pretty much impossible to get to just the interview stage!!!
Since graduating early this year I have applied for probably 100+ design related jobs and not once have I been successful in gaining even an interview.
I may not be the most skilful designer out there. I don't know web design (however I do have very basic knowledge in CSS and HTML which I aim to improve). But I am passionate about design.
I would love to do some design work for not-for-profit organisations to get some experience but I don't actually know how to find that work or who to get in contact with.
I applied for a job a couple of weeks ago which was EXACTLY what I had been waiting for. It was for a graduate and was the exact kind of work I want to do. I put my heart and soul into my application to make sure it was perfect and included a CV and portfolio (even though just a resume and cover letter were required), and I also called them to show I was really keen. I also had some relevant experience (even though it wasn't required) and felt confident I could at least get an interview, but I got the usual rejection email which I am ever so used to :(
I understand there's a lot of graduates in my position and it's a very, very competitive industry with so few jobs. But how exactly can I at least make it to the interview stage? I keep my resume, cover letter and CV designs relatively simple, and I tailor those as well as my portfolio to suit the job.
Any tips at all on what I should do to improve my chances? It gets exceptionally demotivating to not even be able to show them who I am :/
First thing is, get ANY type of job to bring some income in, so you remove a little of the desperation behind it all. Bar work, waiting, delivering flyers, whatever. Apart from your own personal peace of mind, employers can sense desperation in an applicant, and it's not usually a good thing (and I'm saying that as someone who's been on both sides of the interview table).
Then you need to focus on two areas:
1) Getting some "real world" experience
2) Learning digital/web design
The first one, have you contacted any non-profits anywhere? You need to treat this with as much importance as your job hunting. Employers want to see initiative, a portfolio full of course work isn't going to cut it unless it's exceptional, and you've already indicated that it's not. There are plenty of non-profits out there who need help with their visual communications, and online stuff. My first "freelance" work was redoing the website for an NGO I volunteered with in Kenya. Created a great design, and learnt how to work with my first open source CMS. I did have advanced html/css knowledge already which did help.
So you can see that #1 can lead to #2. And the truth is that there is so much more digital than non-digital design work around, so along with adding real world experience, that's the second thing you really need to do to increase your employability.
At the moment basically you've done a course and nothing else. You need to do a lot more, it's just the way the industry is nowadays. Way too many graduates for not enough jobs.
And this isn't actually just the design industry. I recall reading an article a few years ago, where it claimed that roughly 50% of graduates never work in the area their degree is in. Who knows what might turn up for you over the next year or so.
The key is to have a body of work that clearly displays you're capable and won't need your hand held every step of the way. I get frustrated when I see people with tired folios that haven't been updated since their time at uni.
If you're unemployed you should be putting in 8 hours a day working on personal work. Just make up a brief. Design a brochure documenting the different types of letterboxes in your street, design a website that highlights the sugar content of fizzy drinks. The point is that it doesn't matter if it's a real job or not, studios just want to see good work.
There's more work in digital, as Dave pointed out, so that could be an angle you take.
Your folio needs major, major work. The "freak show" piece on your front page will turn off 99% of employers. It's a competitive market, so you can't show what you want - you have to show what you need.
Do you know basics like deep-etching, banner production, edms, processing edits? Attention to detail stuff?
Nothing personal, but I'm sick to death of Gen Y design grads claiming to be art directors because they spent 3 months at design college on out-of-touch briefs.
You're going to be employed as a junior first, so show that you can do junior work. Stop pretending to be an art director.
Practical stuff: Wix? Really? Be like everyone else and get a cargocollective / theloop folio page. Bonus points for buying your own domain.
Get off your ass and build your folio with quality personal projects. Stop making excuses to yourself that you need a commercial brief to show your potential talent. If you want, I'll write a brief for you.
Behance is a good site to get your work on and free.
Some years back I took a break from design (5 years) to do other stuff and a bit of travelling.
I decided to get back into design so I bought a Mac and just set myself projects to do until I'd built up a portfolio.
I soon got a job at a print shop which was a bit shit but my foot was on the ladder again and I learned a LOT from it.
I wouldn't be put off showing personal work as long as it's not too self indulgent.
If you've got a friend or relative that has a business, design them a new logo and a flyer even if they'll never know about it :D
I found that makes it more real.
Try to do a broad selection of work to show you're not a one trick pony.
Good luck and stick at it.
You may need to start from the bottom but you can move up from there.
Agree with some of the above comments on your portfolio. The landing page is going to turn quite a few prospective employers off. I dug a little deeper and you do have some nice work in there (i.e. packaging and the Sky Burial book cover), you're just not displaying it correctly.
I would lose the current homepage, set the homepage to land on one of the category pages such as branding, and have links to the other categories at the top. You basically want to make it so the Creative Director / Employer can flip through your work as quickly as possible to see if you have the skills for the position. Then they will hopefully get you in for an interview.