How to be persistent without being annoying?

Hi everyone,

This is a two-parter:

As most new grads who seek out ID employment, we hardly ever receive responses to our job inquiries. So is it annoying to actually call (even when they say in their websites, “don’t call us”) and ask if they have received your work/resume or is it better to wait?

Any tips for finding work? I am applying to lots of consultancies even if they don’t have any posted openings by sending in my work, but wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to follow up.

Second, as a poor recent grad, I received a renewal letter from IDSA to convert to a “young professionals” membership. I find it overpriced and can’t afford it now, but is Linkedin just as good for networking as the member directory of the IDSA?

Thanks in advance.

Congrats on graduating - I hope you soon find fulfilling employment.

Persistence can be a double edged sword in this case. Personally, I admire someone who does not take silence for an answer, is willing to go to great lengths to find clarity and is proactive in their quest for their goals…unfortunately, there are plenty of folks in hiring capacities who find those same traits bothersome and upsetting. It might be wise to find acquaintances in some of the firms to whom you’re applying and see if you can get an inside voice for intel or to plant a seed for consideration…otherwise you’ll have no idea if the person sitting on your resume is like me or like those who easily get upset :wink:

As for your IDSA dilemma, I tend to agree with your opinion of it being overpriced - I’d stick with your current level of subscription, then when you land a job see if your employer might cover the upgrade cost. And I do think LinkedIn can be as valuable.

Good luck.

Congrats on joining us in the real world! Come on in, the water’s fine…

We’ve had this discussion a few time over the years. I don’t have time to search for some posts at the moment, but if you search through the design employment category, some of your questions will be answered. If any one knows of a post that might help, toss it up here.

  1. My suggestion would be to attend trade shows, focused on the categories/fields you’re interested in. I attend Outdoor Retailer, among others, for example. Talk with people there, in person. In person is always better than an email or phone call. You never know who you may meet with an open mind, great portfolio, and a great attitude.

  2. What direct benefit is IDSA bringing you right now? Based on your post, it doesn’t sound like much. If it isn’t directly getting you a job or bringing a value or benefit to your professional career, stop paying the ridiculous fees and drop the membership. I have, and there has been no negative aspects whatsoever. If anything, the lack of IDSA in my career is a positive thing, as those expenses can go to other worthy tools or experiences. Plus, generally speaking, any IDSA event is primarily filled with young designers searching for jobs, where the trade shows are made up of companies who may be looking to hire.

Typically silence means you didn’t get it. I would definitely not call. if you have the email of someone, then one email follow up is OK, anything more than that and you start getting remembered for the wrong reasons.

RE linked in, only reach out to people you have met, at least digitally. A student reaching out to people he or she hasn’t met is a bit forward in my opinion.

Taylor makes a great point, nothing beats in person networking. Wether that is at a trade show, or even asking to take someone out to coffee. Ask some staff designers out to coffee and get the scoop on places you might want to work.

You might want to follow up the initial contact with further design work, maybe if you’re REALLY interested, a mini project specifically targeted to them. If you aren’t suitable for that position in their mind, most people recognize someone that makes a big effort to impress

One thing I found when I was younger is that little things like that can make you memorable, even if they don’t want you for that specific position. For example, if you happen to run into them at the trade shows Taylor mentioned, or Design conferences… you’re someone they would remember.

Definitely don’t call if they specifically say not to call

Should you call before you send your work to them ?

Are cover letters still relevant ? Or should what you want and why be included in the actual email, so they dont have to download an attachment and open it to see who you are.

There was a fantastic thread few years ago which discussed portfolios and the cover letters. Cover letters\e-mails are still important as it shows you can write a professionaly. Like it or not starting at the bottom everyone is above you, so sounding professional in e-mails to clients and internal communications is extremely important. I beleive YO even wrote a great example of a “cover letter” (obviously using it word for word is not a great idea :unamused: ). What it summed up was your cover letter\e-mail needs to be no longer than a paragraph. Don’t write lists of your skills, or even worse IMHO telling them about their own company, it simply wont get read. Your folio should do all your talking for you.

Calling ahead again not really worth it, and also can be seen as annoying.

Calling fullstop just isn’t worth it imo.

This is so hard !

I desperately want to just send my stuff off and see what happens, but every day I find something that needs to be improved, Adding things, changing the plan, re-formatting work, making websites.

I dont know if im just procrastinating, looking for any excuse to not hit SEND, or if these changes are actually increasing my chances of securing an internship ?

Im very aware many other design students are looking for the same internships as me, and there is a lot of time pressure. Leaning towards just pulling the trigger with what I have…

Thanks to everyone for their contribution, advice and well-wishes.

So far, my strategy has been to try to make connections with designers in some of the firms I am interested in by emailing them through Linkedin or through getting their contact info from the IDSA’s member directory. I always write to them with a clear intention of either networking or getting them to view my work (I don’t want to look desperate); because it’s good to get feedback on student work. And I am always polite and thankful afterwards, because they are taking time out of their schedules to see or talk to me. So far, it has been successful a few times; I had the president of a major housewares corp. contact me over the phone to give me feedback on my work (all mostly positive!), so that’s a start. Then I had one creative director who I asked for feedback here in NYC, see me in person in his office, so I am making some progress and leaving my business cards/resumes.

But most of the resumes/cover letters/sample work I send out without any job posting are unsolicited, so I don’t expect them to get back to me. I won’t call, like you mostly advise. I don’t want to be a nuisance. If they are interested, they might keep me in a file and I will wait around for them to contact me instead.

I am starting to see more positive in Linkedin than IDSA for now, but would like to, when I can afford it, possibly reconsider an IDSA membership, but right now it’s way too expensive when I can network on Linkedin (The free version of Linked does NOT allow you to contact professionals or send them “inmail”, so I signed up for a month to try it out). As far as Linkedin connections, I have only been asking for connections only of those designers I have met or spoken to over the phone, etc… and politely asking if it is ok to add them. Though some of my classmates on Linkedin have hundreds of connections! I wonder how they got those? Maybe they think it’s Facebook; where they have a quota to fulfill?!

What a great idea to try trade shows. Hadn’t considered that. Next year, during the International Housewares Convention in Chicago, I will make sure I attend that one with portfolio in tow! I have also tried sending notes to invite senior designers for a coffee (in a nicely, well written, thankful and polite note) through Linkedin, but am still waiting for their replies. Maybe I am going to0 far up the food chain? I might consider just staff designers and see if they have time to meet up with me.

As far as cover letters, I do customize all of them. Employers are good at sniffing out “cookie-cutter” cover letters. I want them to know that I know about their company and what they stand for and why I would be a good fit there.

Well, thanks everyone. I will certainly keep up the networking on Linkedin and in-person. I do see there are a few Meetup’s ( in NYC for designers. I should start going to those too and bring my work with me. I wonder though if I showed up with my 11x17 Pina Zingaro in tow, if I would look desperate? :laughing:


Interesting you mention only asking for a connection on Linkedin, people who you know or spoken to; which I agree because otherwise it is rude and forward.

Well, I am getting occasional requests on Linkedin from former ID students who I never knew, befriended or spoke to (but have seen around) asking to connect with them. I wonder how some of you handle that?

It’s also interesting how many of them don’t even personalize a message but use the default one. I mean, they can’t take the time to send me a nice message saying “Hi there, you never knew me, but I’d like to get to know you now and possibly network…” etc. Then I look at their number of connections and it’s apparent they seem to be trying to develop or meet a quota; just like on Facebook.

So how would some of you handle being contacted by someone like that? Deny the request or just add them anyway, because you never know when you might need their help? My ID program was very cliquey so that in itself is what makes the situation even more uncomfortable, because if they never bothered to get to know me when I was a student in the same program, should I even bother trying to “network” with them online; in such an anonymous, unsocial venue?

The answer really depends on how you feel about it. You don’t need to have a hard and fast policy if you don’t want to. As Abraham Lincoln once said “I never had a policy, I just tried to do my best every day”.

I take them case by case. I get a lot of default requests from students. Usually I take a look at their coroflot, and if they are good, I will accept it… Which is maybe 1% They have a better chance if they send a personal note explaining why I should connect. If someone is on core77 enough, I’ll usually ask them to connect or accept an invitation from them. I have asked some other design leaders who I don’t personally know to connect, usually with a personal note, sometimes not though. There are not that many of us and it is good to have a group of people to grt advice from. And I have a few old classmates and co workers who either I didn’t really know or just didn’t really align with who I do not connect with and ignore invites from.

It is really a case by case thing.

I sense a new topic developing here:

" How do you use online networking possibilities for (Self)-marketing
without getting annoying?"

And again I’d like to suggest a thread split.

About Networking:

Over here Linkedin isn’t so huge. is another possibility,
which is more widely used. Since a big part of my job is sales I felt
it was necessary to be present there. Until now it wasn’t. There are
some contacts, but the most active ones are the ones that are not
interesting for me. Marketeers, who try to push something, that
was not relevant offline and doesn’t gain relevance through that
new “sales tool”.

Am I missing out on something?

I still call customers and even cold call prospective clients, which
is an ability that I like to foster.

Contacting someone I’d like to have a conversation with on an
online platform without knowing each other feels a little arkward to me.

In the End the only use for Xing, that I found until now, is updating the data
about people I know. (Who is where.)

But I am open to suggestions, how to maximise the use of online networking ,)


Yes! That is a very good idea. I manage design work (exhibit design) and in this industry I have seen young exhibit design students land jobs attending shows like Exhibitor in Las Vegas. Granted exhibit design is quite a niche facet of design, and there are few accredited programs in the US, but it is cool that Exhibitor has been hosting a student pavilion at the show over the last few years. I’ve been approached by students and vets alike while working at this show to talk about design and find out more about employment opportunities. Tradeshows are a good low-pressure environment to just shoot the shit with folks, they are not all just about sales. Lots of tradeshows have mixers and networking events over the course of the show, if you’re into housewares then ICFF would be another great show for you to go to. Many of the shows that I’ve attended outside the exhibit design industry have job boards and recruitment events so you can see what companies are at the show and if you have a little brass you can go talk to them in their exhibit. Keep in mind that most shows will ask you to specify your purpose for attending through the registration process. Depending on what you select you may very well have a badge color that represents your selection. This is how exhibit staffers distinguish between buyers, specifiers, industry reps, students, I&D crew, etc. Pick something legitimate, and be honest,. If you do venture out and do this, take my advice when approaching exhibit staffers and ask questions about their company and products first as just another interested party, this is a good way to break ice and lead the conversation into design and/or marketing. If what they have to say really interests you then probe further and reveal that you appreciate what it is that they do and ask the if they’d have a moment to review your work for feedback. From there you never know where it can go…

What AWESOME suggestions, Greenman! Thank you for chiming in. I will look into the ICFF as well, now that I am in NYC. :slight_smile: Next year, Chicago!

Yeah man ICFF NYC is ballin’, just be wary at this show, if you sport a student badge then lots of exhibitors will shun you in fear that you’re there to steal their ideas. Pick the nearest non-IP-threatenging option with this in mind and it can make convos easier at the show.

Chicago, NeoCon, yes absolutely.

Haha and if you can hold out, hit up EuroShop in Duesseldorf.

Glad I m not the only one with this issue. I have a applied to several positions where I follow up and soon get an interview, but then after that nothing and never know what to do. I usually send a follow up thank you after my interviews as well. I have heard both sides from employers, that not following up shows that you were not interested, and then the other side in which following up is too distracting and annoying. I am currently waiting on a positon right now, where initially they said it would be 2 weeks notice after the first interview and now its turned into a month and a half. In that time I have followed up a few times to check in, since I was also going on a long vacation. Its definitely a hard thing to decipher what to do

A good article on what to do AFTER the interview: