life of the unemployed id'er

so if u had been unemployed for over a year and has not have much luck getting anything else, should they change the discipline or career?

If you love what you do, keep looking, take some outside classes, do some side projects, find out why you can’t find a job.

If you do not like what your doing, change careers, find out what you don’t like.

The economy has been pretty bad the last few years though it is picking back up now.

Also, if the reason you can not find a job is because your not sending thoings out…send things out…don’t expect your contacts to just call you…keep in touch with people…network, network, network…thats the real world out there…best of luck

if you love what you do, never give up!!! Keep looking, keep applying, and keep networking. If you have to take a job dishwashing to pay the bills, do it, but inbetween wash cycles, do some sketching and ideations. Its only temporary untill you find that id job you’ve been looking for.

In the grand scale of things, one year is really not that long. Keep your head up and stay positive.

Thats my pep talk. Now hit the showers.

What’s a good way to start networking when you don’t really know anyone?

Go to industry events. If there isn’t and IDSA chapter near you then try related organizations.

(Many ID related links here but my list does have a graphic design and Illnios/Chicago focus since that’s what I do now and I’m located in Chicago.)

American Institute of Graphic Artists’ national site

AIGA Chicago
Chicago chapter’s website

AMC - Association for Multimedia Communications
Association for Multimedia Communications

AMC Sigraph
30 year old organization for computer graphics (very reasonable membership)

AMC: Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s first educational and scientific computing society
They have meetings in Chicago all the time- Chicago chapter here: 404

APDF Association of Professional Design Firms
Since 1985 “…PDF is comprised of leading firms that specialize in identity, communication, package, new media, industrial and commercial interior design. Our point of difference from other design organizations is our emphasis on design as a business”

Advertising Education Foundation

American Society of Interior Designers

American Society of Media Photographers
“…founded in 1944 by a handful of the world’s leading photojournalists and is recognized internationally for its leadership role. ASMP has over 5,000 members, including many of the world’s greatest photographers, in 40 chapters nationwide.”

Association of Medical Illustrators
“…founded in 1945, and incorporated in Illinois. Its members are primarily artists who create material designed to facilitate the recording and dissemination of medical and bioscientific knowledge through visual communication media…”

Association of Women Industrial Designers
AWID is: 1. an international resource which facilitates access to design talent, networking and social interaction in the design community. 2. an advocate of projects which enrich the growing public awareness of the work of women industrial designers - past, present and on the horizon. 3. provides a forum for publicizing the work of members and for the dissemination of current design news and information.

Chicago Creative Coalition
not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the professional growth of its members, creatives in the communication arts field.

Color Marketing Group

Design Association Links | Core77
Links to associations all over the world. includes lots of Industrial design related associations.

Entertainment Software Association

Ergonomics Society (UK)
" the forum for ergonomists and human factors specialists"

Graphic Artisit Guild

Human Factors International
ensuring usability through software ergonomics, human factors & user-centered design

Illinois Arts Council

Industrial Designers Society of America
National site | Chicago chapter site can be found here:

International Color Consortium

International Council of Societies of INDUSTRIAL DESIGNERS

International game developers association

National Association of Photoshop Professionals

Organization of Black Designers
Graphic | Interior | Fashion | Industrial Design | OBD “…is a non-profit national professional association dedicated to promoting the visibility, education, empowerment and interaction of its membership and the understanding and value that diverse design perspectives contribute to world culture and commerce…”

SILA Society of Illustrators
“SILA of Los Angeles was founded in 1953 by a handful of Southern California advertising artists and designers primarily to promote the professional status of illustration art as well as foster both philanthropic and educational goals…”

SOTA: The Society of Typographic Aficionados
“…is a non-profit organization devoted to type, typography, and the related arts. We are proud to have a wonderful group of members from all over the world!..”

Society for Environmental Graphic Design

Society for News Design
International: membership is comprised of editors, designers, graphic artists, publishers, illustrators, art directors, photographers, advertising artists, Website designers, students and faculty.

Society of Typographic Arts (Chicagoland)
“The mission of the New STA is to engage members of the Chicagoland design community in an ongoing professional conversation; to support selected design-related events and projects; to provide opportunities for fellowship; to encourage the involvement …”

The Color Association - Color Trends and Forecasts

Type Directors Club
“is an international organization for all people who are devoted to excellence in typography, both in print and on screen. Founded in 1946…”

UCDA :: Universitye & College Designers Assoc.
“Promoting Excellence in Visual Communicatons for Institutions of Higher Education”

Usability Professionals’ Association

Sit back and enjoy and hang in there. Good luck.


I know what I was doing wrong. Took me a while to figure it out too. They were all common sense mistakes, that I’ve learned from. Understand, I am not trying to scare anyone, just conveying my humbling, job search battle tales. It took me 10 months to find a job, and that’s with 4 years professional experience. I finally settled on something that wasn’t motion graphics, but it allows me to build my print portfolio (which is pretty much nonexistent), and call myself an Art Director. Again, some of these are common sense so please bear with me. There really are no hard and fast rules for job hunting, but here are my top 15 realizations.

  1. Keep your resume ONE common font, with one size. Believe it or not, I sent my resume to Motorola, using mostly Arial and a more obscure, but common font Abadi Condensed, and the latter came out cursive on the other end! God only knows why they still called me in for an interview. Also, I made an all Arial resume at home, took it to Kinko’s for a laser print, but on their computer ‘Print Preview’, it replaced the smaller-sized Arial with some other fancy font. What a nightmare.

  2. Have a decent print portfolio. My current one sucks, but my new job includes designing covers for music CDs and DVDs, so mine is still a W.I.P, but I already have some cool new things to put in there.

  3. No colorful gimmickry. I used to have this spinning java cube menu on my website that served as a navigation tool. Other than that, it served no purpose and probably scared most people away. Nothing says bad design like colorful gimmickry and gadgets.

  4. Have at least three themed resumes. Mine are pretty much the same, except for the headline at the top. I have one for MOTION GRAPHIC DESIGNER and MULTIMEDIA SPECIALIST(for animation), MULTIMEDIA PRODUCTION ARTIST AND WEB DESIGNER(for print), WEB GRAPHICS SPECIALIST AND MULTIMEDIA DESIGNER(for web). Sometimes you have to be all things to everybody, so stress your title at the top.

  5. Unless you have your own laser printer, do NOT waste your time or money mailing out costly quality prints, CDs or DVDs blindly. Make sure the company is hiring first. If anything, print one set of quality stuff and re-use it at every interview. As ridiculous as it sounds, people will call you based on the strength of your web portfolio, which is a stupid way to determine someone’s whole skillset.

  6. Have laser quality everything. CD and DVD Labels, printouts, sales kits, etc.

  7. Be humble enough to accept that maybe your design chops need help. I know I have. My first demo reel was garbage, but I didn’t realize it until its complete overhaul 9 months later. Even some of my print work can be considered tragic, but I’m working on it.

As another example, I interviewed at Motorola, and the way it was set up was 5 different interviews with different people throughout one single day. My second manager I interviewed with just bypassed looking at my CD-ROM portfolio altogether, saying her job was to gauge my personality. I later found out that was not true, because I walked by her office on my way to the next interview, and she was definitely looking closely at that guy’s portfolio. And they have all those cool phones so you know they talked to each other between interviews. Very humbling, to say the least.

  1. Always use a cover letter. People want to know you’re articulate.

  2. When you cold-call companies about employment, most people’s automatic response is to try and end the phone call as quick as possible. That’s what receptionists get paid for. What has worked for me is asking software specific technical queries. Example: I called 3 post-production houses last week, and each time I asked the same question (albeit a Yes/No typical dead-end question):

Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you guys were looking for any AFTER EFFECTS talent.”
Receptionist: “Um, I’m not sure actually. Hold on one second?”

BAM! One question and you’re connected directly to the head of the studio aka the Art/Creative Director aka the direct Hiring Manager, whom you ask the same question. No dealing with recruiters, no applying through Monster, no anxiety over why they didn’t call because you get an immediate answer.

  1. When they ask you where you see yourself in five years, always answer with, “Still here, if everything works out.” I messed up during my Motorola interview saying maybe I’ll be doing video games. Strike two. Go figure, they didn’t hire me.

  2. No matter what the books say, do NOT ask, “So how did I do?”. True, job interviews require some acting, but nothing says inexperience and Acting like this question.

  3. Network! I got my current job from a recruiter. And I learned about Motorola through a former co-worker.

  4. Show up 15-20 min. early for the interview. I was sweating at this interview for a DVD company because I walked from the parking garage 6 blocks down(during the summer). It was embarassing. Needless to say, they hired someone else.

  5. Downsized, laid-off, no matter what politically correct term they used for letting you go, you were being fired. They’re all euphemisms for the same thing in the corporate world. When I finally realized this, I called my former boss to get a letter of recommendation. That way, I knew my departure wasn’t based on my performance, character, or work ethic. However, I was unsure because when had my last job, I was also taking care of my mom who was dying of cancer.

  6. Most of all, be patient. Like every thing else in life, job hunting is a process. I certainly don’t love my current job, but I already know I’m not gonna be there forever.

I’m sure I’ll be adding to this list, but feel free to take it or leave it. This is just what I’ve had to deal with.

i thnk location. go 2 whr thr r jobs.

That would be India? Chine?


The worst question you could possibly get, and I’ve had to answer it numerous times, “Your portfolio is strong. So, why haven’t you had a job in the field the past TWO YEARS?”. It gives me the heebeejeebees. I honestly think the worst answer you could possibly give is, “The economy hasn’t been very strong the past few years.”

But does anyone have a better one?

Sure, I’ve done some freelance work, competitions, internships, et cetera… But in the end, all employers at every interview I have sat through have wanted to see “professional experience”.

Maybe they can help.

Hello again,

I ran into the same problem. My career counselor said that after about 8 months of unemployment, people start to get suspicious. I got laid off in December 2003, and then a month later, my mom lost her battle with cancer, so of course I took even more time off to grieve. Before I knew it, 10 months have passed, my severance and unemployment have run out, and my savings are dwindling. I started to settle for temp agencies doing clerical work and data entry just to pay the bills. I even considered going back to retail.

Sorry about the novella, but it’s a segue. My only headstrong advice is to pre-empt the need for them to ask that question by designating YOURSELF as your last employer, for example:

ABC Design. Smallville, USA 2000-Present
Provide multimedia design campaigns for small businesses.

Freelance. [2004 - Present]
Also frequently accept assignments from three high-profile Smallville staffing firms.

Crappy Euro-Owned Design Firm that Lays People Off 2000-2003
Graphic Designer.
Responsibilities include web, print and video. etc.

This way, it looks like three serial jobs, with no gaps in employment. If you have to, comp up some spec work using real brand name clients. “Freelance” is what I call a “red flag” kind of word, because it implies that you’ve been out of a team production environment for a while. Also, artists are known for having egos, so it might inadvertently convey that maybe you don’t work well with others. However, you should always list Freelance work, underneath “ABC Design,” of course. Just be sure to mention the agencies you use too. One, two lines. Nothing too long. (See above). Recruiters are still willing to contact you even if you are unemployed, some would say even more so than if you ARE employed. Most importantly, make sure you have a website. Gone are the days where we designers can rely on sites like monster or careerbuilder for our next positions.

According to my resume, you can technically assume I have been “freelancing” since 2000 which was when I graduated. I got a job right after graduating, then got laid off from that job in December 2003. I only started getting calls again when I listed myself as my current employer. During the interview, just say something like, “Well, to be honest with you, I make a whole lot more money on my own than I ever did at my last job. But it’s also hard to get reasonably priced health insurance when you have your own business, so…” Bla bla bla. “I haven’t been unemployed in X years, and I’m not the type to just sit around and do nothing… I’d lose my mind. So I try to keep myself busy with my own clients, working out at the gym, doing non-profit work…” Bla, bla, bla.

…Which is completely feasible. I’m still friends with some of the art directors at the sister company of my last job and they throw me work from time to time at upwards of $65/hour. This way, you’re not really lying, and they don’t get the impression that you’ve been sitting around for 10 months, even if you have.

One final note. When it comes to the “What happened at your last employer, Why were you let go?” question, just mention that they lost a few big accounts, one of which was your account, and as a result, your position along with 10 others was eliminated. That’s just the advertising world for you.

Good luck and good hunting!

Most don’t question me about the gap. The job economy stinks and most know it. You do need to show you’re doing something though. Freelance, take classes, get some other kind of job. If you have been out of work for 1 year and haven’t been doing anything I would question your drive.