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“I have been a headhunter in the design industry for almost 10 years. Recruiting in both the UK and the Middle East,” says Paisley Julienne, Director of Sinopack Search, a design-oriented head hunting firms in the region. “My life both professionally and personally is driven by helping people develop themselves and become confident in who they are and what they do.”

For those looking to access the next stage of their career growth in the design industry, Julienne shares easy tricks to help people build themselves up again and put their best foot forward.

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Paisley Julienne, Director of Sinopack Search.

We might be talking design here, but these could easily be applied to progression in any profession.

Believe in yourself and be optimistic

If you are optimistic, that energy will seep through into everything you do. When you are positive and upbeat, potential employers are more likely to gravitate towards you during the interview stage, and people are more likely to help you (easier said than done during a stressful time of job-hunting post-pandemic, but it is essential). Best-selling author Barrie Davenport said people who lack self-confidence often ‘engage in subconscious behaviours that undermine their success, making them less likely to ask for or get promotions, raises and even jobs’. Believe in your talent and your confidence will be unmissable.

Update your portfolio

Your portfolio is your opportunity to showcase your talent and should be more than just mundanely presented photographs of your work. It in itself should demonstrate your design prowess as an authentic representation of your talent, natural style of design and influences, it should be your best work.

An employer’s first interest is always the candidate’s portfolio, only once they see that their design style will suit and supplement their company, do they ask about personality and experience. In cases where projects are confidential such as private residential projects, get creative. Always make time for side projects so that you can continually bolster your portfolio with new work to keep it fresh, comprehensive and well-rounded.

Focus on your offering, not your demands

Place yourself in the employer’s shoes; imagine you receive 100 applications, 95 from candidates stating the salary and seniority they want, then 5 from candidates who emphasise the skills, attributes and work ethic that they will bring to your team, which candidates will you be drawn to? As a candidate you have to make yourself stand out among a crowd; displaying value and selflessness is always endearing.

Be persistent. Politely following up on your application can prompt a response. Please note recruiters and companies are often inundated with applications, and even with the best screening processes, it’s not always possible to review every application. Through no fault of your own, your application may go unseen. So, I recommend following up on your application with a phone call and email, more than once, even if you annoy them it is better than going unnoticed. Also, make it your business to know who’s who in the company, call in favours and (respectfully) get in peoples’ faces! Again, make yourself stand out.

Up-skill yourself and stay current

If you’re unemployed, improve your credentials whilst you have the time, or if you’re employed but want to make a move, make the time! Take a refresher course and stay up to date with current trends. For example, if your experience is all commercial but you want to get into residential, volunteer for a project or at least familiarise yourself with the prevalent conventions of the field, even try creating some mock-ups for your portfolio. Take the first steps towards your next chapter, don’t wait for it to come to you.

Don’t be too fussy

Although I encourage you to be confident in your ability and know your worth, during a pandemic, survival is paramount so keep your ego in check! Taking a salary reduction or a less prestigious job title might be necessary, and it’s not always a bad thing. A lower salary is better than no salary, and even the most elite in their profession have accepted pay cuts. At the end of the day, you are always more likely to get a job when you’re in a job, and time spent in work is better than a gap on your CV.

For more support and guidance, you can write to Paisley at paisley@sinopack.co.uk