Jack of all trades ...

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  • colin_s

    hi QBN, design-professional-related-advi... thread here. I have to figure out what it is I'm doing wrong and y'all are the best group study I could probably ask for as this is work-related.

    For 5 or 6 years pre-pandemic I was able to skirt by on freelance references, plus I was living on the cheap / on the fly. Most of those jobs were for startups that never made it past a few rounds of seeding, businesses who folded during Covid, or people who don't really need more than one job. I began partially looking for work about four months ago and seriously looking once 2021 kicked off. I always get to the same place, basically a headhunter or a callback, but never past.

    So I need to figure out like, what's the best approach here? The design folio I'm using right now is up at http://perigean.studio , and I'm currently working on upgrading that site aesthetically to be a bit more direct, but I suppose I have a couple vague-ish questions:

    1. Is the fact I can do anything between print and UX working against me / is design too niche-oriented for my work to get me a gig?

    2. Is the LinkedIn world super handy / will the resume to Monter/Indeed type stuff be a better bet?

    3. Any other recs?

    Thanks to any who may have a sense of direction here; I can't even get production overflow or like, anything really. The savings I've survived on through the pandemic are basically gone and the consistent stream of "We're going in another direction" e-mails are getting a little rough.

    (To those waiting on stickers, this has all been the reason for delays as I am trying to make / find work.)

  • monospaced0

    Are you looking for a full time position, or just more freelance?

    • I don't think being a jack-of-all-trades is bad at all. Companies like that.monospaced
    • I'm looking for literally anything immediately but ideally FT as an AD would be the ideal role to get back into 'the game' with.colin_s
    • yupGuyFawkes
  • Continuity13

    (Caveat: the following is from my perspective working in advertising agencies, not pure-play design shops. YMMV.)

    Here's my 0,02 € as both a seemingly serial job-hunter, and as someone whose had to hire everything from copywriters to art directors to motion designers to everything in between:

    • Specialism — in my experience — is done.
    Agencies and their clients have been entirely too stingy for the last 10-15 years to pony up for specialists. I can't even recall the number of times I've had to try to find that magic unicorn of an art director who can not only come up with TVC ideas, but can also do print and rub out a website or two; simply by virtue of the fact that no-one wanted to invest any money in someone who does one thing really, really, really well.

    That said, if you want to go into one design discipline, I think that the situation is slightly different with design shops. Especially with digital shops, they're still looking for UX/UI designers. But, since I have no experience with design shops, I could be talking bollocks, here.

    • Re: LinkedIn.
    I hate LinkedIn. I fucking despise LinkedIn. It's a never-ending circle-jerk of creatives humble-bragging their latest Lion or Effie or ADC nail, and everyone else piling on the insincere effusive praise. It's digusting. Or dropping pearls of wisdom everyone in the business should have learnt in their first year of career, but framing it like it's the hottest new thing in advertising, and earning All The Kudos for sharing their 'wisdom'.

    Rather unfortunately for the rest of us, though, LinkedIn kind of needs to be the first job hunting port of call. The fact of the matter is that all of the people in the business are there, and it's easy to fire off messages to the people who need to see them, bypassing HR departments altogether (I hate having to deal with HR first, I prefer going for CCOs and ECDs).

    • Headhunters:
    Fuck them. They're as useless as tits on bulls. I've never had a good experience with those two-faced vultures. Most of them will ghost you. And, actually, it's not their job to find you a new gig; the people who pay for their rails of cocaine are the agencies, once an employment contract has been signed. Which means, they would only theoretically knock on your door if they think you're the right guy to get them that sweet, sweet blow cash. Which is, unfortunately, exceptionally unlikely, because so many job-hunters have sent these useless turds their CVs that they're overflowing. Skip these arseholes.

    Best of luck, my man, you do lovely work and you're good people.

    • Ignore the typos. ICF today.Continuity
    • Love this @Continuity.

    • @Continuity damn, did you just called me a magic unicorn?! lolgrafician
    • Show me your book, and I'll let you know.Continuity
    • Not in advertising anymore
    • @grafician i like your confidencerenderedred
    • In film advertising our teams are often composed of specialists. One pod often contains a type guy, as matte painter and a couple designersscarabin
    • @scarabin In pod we trust.ideaist
    • There is so much circle jerking going these days. Is it a game you have to play?Chimp
    • I enjoyed this.rootlock
    • This should be in the useful thread.slappy
    • too many words...would not fuck.utopian
  • grafician3

    - Keep focus on the UX/UI projects, lots of demand rn for these

    - Do some longer case studies it seems these attract lots of attention (ex: https://medium.com/@graciahills1… )

    - Add more "about me" info to the folio

    - get testimonials from successful old projects and add them after each case study, as social proof is very important for freelancers

    - get a profile on https://read.cv

    - get a profile on https://angel.co/

    - split the "studio" in 2 websites, one for brand work, one for UX/UI

    - go on dribbble, post consistently, can be anything really, old logos, bits of UI, etc. but keep it consistently (if you want a invite, I can send you one right now)

    - go on linkedin, post stuff that you find interesting about UX/UI and/or branding (but all work related, not the content we post here on QBN) and ofc post actual work you did (even if old but if still looks good, post it) - as linkedin has amazing organic reach!

    - find on linkedin HR people that offer to do test interviews or mentorships so you can get some interview training, or at least practice how you'd answer common interview questions

    - think about real hard about your rates/how much to charge and how to negotiate a good salary

    - get on twitter and follow "design twitter" people, they post often new opportunities and always comment on those with your new folio

    these from the top of my head

  • mg330

    You need to think more like me. I tell people I'm a jackass of all trades, and a master of some.

    • lol i don't know why you're being downvoted, except for maybe the fact i already do that and that's the problem?colin_s
    • Perhaps! In UX and design it's absurd to think anyone can know / do everything.mg33
    • In my own tongue-in-cheek / self deprecating way, it explains precisely who I am. I just haven't put it on LinkedIn yet...mg33
  • Hayzilla1

    Firstly I think you need to bulk out that site man. Your portfolio is only 4 things to look at. Get as much run-of-the-mill B2B things in as you can. Especially UI/UX if possible. You also need an about me page.

    Sorry I haven't looked for a job in 17yrs so can't advise much on that side of things.

    • That's been my concern too. I do a ton of work - I have my art site too at colinsmith.art - but not all of it directly applies to employmentcolin_s
    • & so part of this is navigating what aspects to put forward, basically positioning what parts of the 9 different things I do to promote effectivelycolin_s
    • imho, leave the art and the excess of personality out of your main page focused on showing work for the purpose of gaining employment. "KISS"Nairn
    • Ok, "Keep It Simple, Stupid".
      I'm sure you know that, but the amount of times I've said it and had ???! as a response..! :)
  • fyoucher14

    First Impressions:
    I'd say, at the very least change your splash site on your site or make it link directly to the work. Your work is nice but at first glance, as soon as I clicked your link, I thought I was looking at something unfinished or amateur and almost didn't explore further. Make your best pieces of work the very first thing you see when I go to your link.

    Jack of all trades:
    It's a good thing but if you're looking for a full-time gig somewhere, you may want to highlight one thing specifically, and showcase everything else as an added bonus. The initial step to get a foot in the door is likely going to be through a recruiter who has no clue what the actual position entails, only that you have what they've been asked to find via "words" (lol, my wife is a recruiter / HR). If you're listing too many things, it's just clouding up everything in a pool of 100 other candidates. You're just trying to get noticed first.

    It is what you make of it. I find it extremely valuable as someone who is self-employed. I pay $60 a month because it's worth every penny of that to me. Half of my clients have come from it. I use it more than Facebook, at least an hour a day. I see postings for people looking for someone like you everyday.

    As with anything, some are good, some are not-so-good. If it's helping you in any way, I don't see how that could be a bad thing.

    • Wait - what do you pay Linkedin $60 a month for?
    • ^ QBN Pro subscriptionfyoucher1
    • JK. LinkedIn subscription.fyoucher1
    • Linkedin Premium is $30 but I still think that's way out of line.CyBrainX
    • ^ Business Premium is $60fyoucher1
  • CyBrainX0

    There has been a lot of good advice here. Use as many employment sites as you can: Linkedin, Glass Door, Monster, etc. Glass Door is good for company reviews and possibly salary information but that usually seems speculative.

    Keep in mind we're in a Depression and it's never been worse in our lifetimes. Things are likely to pick up this year, or maybe next, or I don't know...

    Your web site has great stuff on it but that opening page made me think it didn't load because it's so empty. I'd start the home page showing your best piece. Best of luck.

    • I'm not responding in main notes here because I've not applied a job since 2002 or so, but if I were to answer, I would as you have here.Nairn
    • nngh.
      *Applied FOR a job, obviously!
      I apply myself in all my jobs.
      Handy or otherwise.
  • nb6

    Lots of good advice here.

    One more I’ll add: if you want UX, web or product work, your site needs to be readable and usable from a phone. Currently it’s not.

    I love when people build their own portfolio, but I’d rather someone choose a good square space template than submit a portfolio site that doesn’t match the quality of their work.

  • nb0

    I’m in product design (aka Ui/UX).

    I’ve never hired a candidate that came from a recruiter. My theory is that recruiters have an incentive to get you someone “just good enough” but not necessarily the best. Or maybe the best of the best just don’t use recruiters. Whatever the case, they seldom make it past the first interview

    • You can look at the recruiter's track record, the good ones are real gold mines of connections to talent.zarkonite
  • desmo2

    Im in the exact same boat as you. Ive been looking for FT work for the last 10 months. My few thoughts...

    I would take a long hard look in the mirror and personally decide if you want to be labeled as a 'specialist' or a 'generalist'. Once you pick one, lean HARD into it. At this point, you can't be going back and forth. Employers will sniff this out. Whatever it is you decide, the role is somewhere out there for you.

    Once you answer that question, I would overhaul your website based on what you've decided you want to be. Your site needs to be absolutely clear and direct in what you want and how your work benefits your potential employer. Your site felt half finished, and honestly, if I were hiring, id take a pass on your current site.

    Finally, looking for work in general is a full time job in itself. Even more so during this shit time of a pandemic. Its going to be a grind. Tons of other designers are out there looking for work and studio budgets are limited, but keep grinding. Apparently the market is rebounding back up. Keep your head up.

  • noRGB2

    FWIW, I put these materials together when COVID was kicking off last year to try to help the huge influx of people that were clearly about to be jobless. I do a lot of 1:1 mentoring, so this is a packaged up version of the materials I typically go over with people in their first 1-2 sessions.

    Feel free to reach out if you have any questions: https://www.notion.so/dmullins/D…

  • kaiyohtee3

    Maybe get a writer and/or proofread your next iteration?

    Sentences like

    "This start-up was focused on connecting local restaurants with on-the-go professionals who would ."

    isn't complete—bad grammar will kill ya.

  • monNom0

    I think being a jack of all trades can be a benefit for smaller firms (< 30), or if you are engaging (smaller) clients yourself as a sole-proprietor. It might be seen as a drawback for larger organization that want cogs in the machine, and want the absolute shiniest cog they can get. I think that second sort of organization is rarer, and I suspect they are struggling these days too - IE not adding to headcount.

    The first sort of business has more churn. New firms open, new ones close. Not many last 5 years. Now seems like the time that new businesses will be forming, but their needs will be small, so you would need a lot of them --find them on Linkedin!

    Also note: you can be a jack of all trades, but look like a specialist if that's the only thing you show people. Your intended audience will determine whether that's a good idea. Pick the thing you are best at. How do you compare to the other specialists out there? Don't have enough work in that specific area? make shit up! Post it on social media with some commentary. I know many people who have a recognizable style (for like illustration/type) that have built their business that way.

    Last advice: depending on how much experience you have, now might just be the time to start your own business and serve small customers directly. There are not that many AD positions available, and there is a lot of competition for them. In addition, most small companies, if they have a designer they are happy with, don't change them. There are many people that just lost their jobs and now have a chance to work on their dream business. You can help them define it, and grow along with them. Find them through Linkedin!

    As for your portfolio: just make it so work shows up right away and you can scroll through it. Look at __hance for examples of how to present things in their best light. In fact, make your portfolio in that format then dump the whole thing on __hance too. Can't hurt.

  • StoicLevels0

    I like your work and presentation, Colin. I think you have a certain authentic quality to your pieces and I hope you are able to continue finding work.

  • StoicLevels0

    Heres a list of improvement for your site Colin:

    1. Work previews need to be bigger, maybe a magnifying glass.
    2. Mobile theme, maybe
    3. Update links, many are dead

    Good luck. Your fine art stuff is boss.

  • scarabin2

    Wish i could upvote the whole thread

  • shapesalad1

    Watch a bunch of these, and then try to critique your site like he does, then implement the changes:


    Key take-always I took from watching those videos is to ask these questions about your website;

    Does your website:

    Say what you are looking for?

    Say what you want the viewer to do?

    Show how your different from the competition.

    Say/show what you offer.

    Say who you work with/for (your client niche, you can’t work for everyone, not everyone is the right client for you)

    Show that you take your work seriously.


    Currently you know you don’t answer those questions or demonstrate those things with your current website.

    • Frankly be as direct as you can. Say “I’m a multidisciplinary Designer from print to ux. I work with startups and design agencies...shapesalad
    • Want to hear how I can grow your business or solve your design needs: [Arrange a call back] < this is a big ass button.shapesalad
    • Don’t waste people’s time with your confusing art direction visual comms. Say simply what business problems you solve. How you add value. Why you are good.shapesalad
    • Also decide if you’re going full time or running a studio. If you’re looking to go full time then ditch the .studio URL and make a cv/portfolio site instead.shapesalad
    • Also nothing stopping you from having multiple websites for different purposes.shapesalad
    • Pick tops 5 case study projects. Show the behind scenes thinking and process.shapesalad
  • pedromendez0

    Lots of great advice in this thread, here's a bit of advice that I've found has helped me over the past 1-2 years of job hunting.

    I would recommend reworking your site using a simple Wordpress theme or Squarespace theme. It'll be fully responsive out of the box without any work and little or no cost.

    I've stripped back and adapted this WP theme and it's worked really well for me over the past 1-2 years for me while job hunting.

    Then build out a few strong case studies to show projects and your impact. Create a few large impactful images that really help instantly capture the project. Talk about the problem, the task, your action and the result / impact of the project. I've found having 3+ really strong case studies have been central to me being able to communicate the value I can bring to a company / project and land new work in interviews.

    Hope this helps man. The very best of luck in the job hunt, your work looks really good!

  • shapesalad1

    Here's a studio that does similar range of work that you do:

    Branding > UX, came up top of google search"UX branding design studio":


    Within 5 seconds you can read what they do and get a sense of their Art Direction from the overall style of the website in a micro second glance.

    Your first instinct is to scroll down, straight away you get credibility by seeing all their past clients.

    You then see how they work, what they offer, what to expect when working with them.

    Then you get to see examples of their work. The newsletter thingy shows they have peer respect, then - contact them.

    So boom, within 10 seconds I know what they fuck they are about. And If that's what I'm looking for, I'm going to click on their big contact button and talk through a project.

    You could get a shit tonne more freelance work and job offers if you actually do some visual communication and communicate your awesome talent. Worrying less about being jack of all trades. Your work looks good, but it's all over on the right half of the website, small and the iPhone for the UI/UX stuff instantly makes your work look antique. The font size is tiny.

    You've rebelled against all common web design rules and put your logo on the bottom left where no one is going to see it, menu to left in a teeny tiny font. Worse of all... no about page, no contact page.

    Anyway, you're getting call backs, but not the work... I think the portfolio is the reason. It's not fresh, not open and communicating. It's the opposite of visual communication as it visually communicates nothing that matches the quality of your actual work.

    So potential clients are clearly won over by your work but getting caught up by having to decided if you really can deliver.

    They're thrown off by the website. They are having to invest time to slowly go through your website, clearly won over by the work and calling you... They want to hire you as your work is absolutely great, but the site is like the clothes you wear to a job interview, if it's a stinky old t-shirt it's not selling your professionalism.

    Yes to Linkedin, it's where majority of jobs are posted, don't be a pussy, get on it, work it.

    Indeed, just browse it, no need to put CV's on there. You'll get more work through a portfolio site if you do as above and keep a check on SEO.

    These days it's not enough to have a portfolio website, you need to be on the social + design platforms. Doesn't matter if the same work is posted on all of it. They are are purposeful. Like multiple fishing rods, you'll catch more fish. And they build credibility. If you look solid across all social media / design portfolio sites - guess what? You look solid, you look like someone that has game. Thusly everyone wants to hire.

    • By the way, was made redundant, walking straight into another job. Cos I did all that I advise. Even though my actual work isn't all that great.shapesalad
    • In the real estate game what wins is Location, Location, Location.shapesalad
    • In design what wins is Presentation, Presentation, Presentation.shapesalad
    • You can sell a crayon sketch of a turd if the presentation is absolutely on point and sells it to the audience.shapesalad
    • All good advice shape +++grafician
    • also very true, many designers build their website for other designers, to be cool, not for real business clients sadlygrafician
  • sted0

    @colin how old are you? 0-20 20-30 30-40 40+?