job searching during a recession

I am a senior ID student at the University of Cincinnati, and I am researching a paper on effective strategies for getting work coming out of school in this recession landscape.

Any ideas, articles, or directions would be greatly appreciated. So appreciated I won’t even use an emoticon. Thanks

Great question, and I’m sorry I don’t have much input to give. I was actually thinking about asking the same question myself, so I’d love to hear what other people have to say.

Is this a good time to make a job change? I would that that moving to or getting a new job at this time would be risky, because you would then become the low man on the totem pole and more likely to get laid off if times get tough for a company. Thoughts?

Or, are certain areas safter than others (consultancy vs. corporate vs freelance) or fields (consumer products, soft goods, medical, exhibit, etc).

Thanks in advance.

I’m surprised by how many designer job postings I’m seeing and the amount of recruiters contacting me looking for people to fill positions. It makes sense I think. Companies are aware that to get out of an economic slowdown, they will have to sell more products. Launching new product lines is probably the most successful way to increase their market-share along with strategic acquisitions and mergers. To launch that new product line, you will need a talented, focused team of designers. Which is why people are hiring.

The flip side is, there is a lot of pressure on these designers to perform, so most of the postings are for experienced designers with track records of results oriented product design. This puts any student from a Co-op program at an advantage. The company gets the energy and positive attitude of a fresh graduate, along with someone who has some experience in a business environment.

yes, but from another thread, some companies can be hiring R&D as a last-ditch effort. too little too late, if you will.

companies that are decently healthy will smell the blood in the water (that of their competitiors) and ramp up.

deciding which side of the fence your potential employer is on is the trick.

sometimes you need to be very political yet clear about these issues during an interview.

I’m quite interested in this topic myself because I’m going to be moving to the US to look for work very soon (looking at San Francisco) and even though there seems to be frequent job postings I’ve been having a hard time applying from overseas. However I think this is purely because of a distance thing cause my level of experience is quite adequate I think (6 years and counting), my folio is quite solid and I have US citizenship… technically paperwork and skills should be covered.
I’ve had people in SF tell me the market is not too bad… is this true in general? I’ve done my degree and all my work experience here in Sydney with major consultancies but I’ve done heaps of work for many large US clients like Verifone and Energizer … so I’m guessing my lack of response from companies is more due to inability to interview rather than “hard times”. It’s just very confusing because there is very little feedback.

I’m sick of applying from here so now I’m looking at moving to SF and applying locally probably in the next 1-2 months. Is this crazy? I’m interested to know what people think given the current status of the industry. I don’t see much choice.

your input would be much appreciated.

I am facing the same problem even though i am in the SF bay area…I moved from India almost a year back, leaving a very interesting job at an automotive company…thinking getting a job would not be difficult with a masters degree, 2 years of experience and a decent portfolio…but its been tough…
I have been freelancing a bit since then…

Does calling the design firm directly help? Not being from a design school here and not knowing anyone in the design circles in the US just brings everything to a dead end…!

Are you saying that its important to realize why a company is choosing to currently be putting money into design?

  1. they are sinking fast and need to try and figure something out quick to survive or
  2. they want to remain competitive in the current market.

I feel you are making a good point and want to ensure that i understand what you are saying.

Unfortunately, Yo’s experiences ring true. Nobody wants to hire any fresh graduates because they don’t want to pay to train them. Even with internship experiences, unless you have 3-5 years experience on a professional level, most companies won’t hire you, unless they want another intern. Has anyone else found this to be true?

I have once won a job over some beers at the local pub with the company Director after calling a consultancy looking for work. This is not normal but it does happen (maybe it’s an Aussie thing :smiley: ). Timing and network (i.e knowing people in the area whose name can help you spark conversation) is essential in my experience.

Zoiee, have you been to any design conferences or exhibitions? To me they seem like a good place to meet industry people.

Fatkid, I’m hoping what you’re saying is true… otherwise it’s a bad sign for the industry.


“Laying off your designers in a weak economy is like burning your furniture to stay warm overnight. In the morning you won’t have anywhere to sit.”

feeling it hard right now

It seems that experience(time wise) is the only thing they look… first. Your resume(prior job content), technical and critical thinking skills, portfolio, awards and publications, etc become secondary. Plus, needing a work visa sponsorship is almost like having a criminal history to the employers.

BTW this is specific to ID only.

That’s all I’ve been getting…

“Not enough experience.”

Very, very frustrating.

I know! makes it 3 times harder to find a job.

I can see where hiring experienced designers helps the design industry, but if no new graduates can get hired to gain experience to continue the cycle, the industry is DEAD.


not really.

it sort of a darwinist reality.

if you can’t adapt to survive, you’re dead.

i came out of school thinking i was going to make it on my design prowess alone. not true and i learned that lesson the hard way. if you can do the same thing someone else can, you really need to market yourself in a way that makes you a more attractive candidate. of course, this doesn’t mean bullshit your way in, because if that works you will be soon ferreted out or find yourself working with a company that has no clue what your profession is about. if this is true you will soon be back to square one.

you would be really surprised to find out how many people are in positions or professions they really didn’t get degrees for.


One of the major ways a designer land a job is through referrals from his/her own network of friends.

  1. Don’t forget to cultivate relationship with your fellows at school. One day they become your business partners, or the ones introducing you to a job.

  2. Networking with other designers outside your school through professional associations (such as IDSA), informal groups (Core77, LinkedIn)

  3. Choose an industry that you are most interested in entering after you graduate from school, then study that industry right now. IDSA has a mentoring program for design students to tap. Find your mentor in that industry, he or she may point you out the direction and insider information.

I hope these advices help!!