Seeking Professionals' Advice:

I would like some professional advice on my career path from designers out in the industry. I graduated with an ID degree with a fashion background and have been in the footwear industry for over six years now, consistently designing in-line footwear products with heavy involvement in development.

After being with my current company over 3 years, I decided to seek other opportunities, but seem to have difficulty finding opportunities and landing a good job. I’ve worked with several large to small known recruiting firms, the first response when I send my teaser package & resume to them is "really great stuff, I will get back to you with good news"and never hear from them again. When I do deal with companies directly, it’s almost the same thing although I did go on two interviews and was told the same thing and again, haven’t heard back from them and get dodged when trying to follow up or claim that they have put a hold on the position. It sounds silly at first, but after numerous times this gets a bit frustrating and I start to lose confidence in what recruiters or potential employers say.

This leads me to wonder if others experience the same where people are saying only nice comments (not negative at all) and kind of lead you on and then never hearing from them again or saying their “putting a hold on a position”. I understand the US economy isn’t doing too well, but is that the real reason why I’m not landing anything?

I’ve been impress to see members giving good criticism and feedback on this blog in recent months, while other blog sites comments are harsh, unwarranted, and unreasonable and get sidetracked onto other subjects. So after many countless times submitting resume and packages and feeling misled, I figured, I’d reach out to others in the industry wondering if anyone can relate to what I’m going through or have any suggestions. Thank you.

I’ve heard of this happening to people. Things can change quickly, especially these days and you may have just had bad luck. Remember, in job searches, every job you seek will be wrong for you until you find the one that is right (just like dating).

Post your portfolio sample, and we’ll see if these people are just being nice (I doubt that’s the case, given your experience).

I’ve never been fond of recruiters, but that’s just my small amount of experience with them. I don’t think someone who is not directly within a company should decide if I am suitable or not. I’d prefer for the company to tell me themselves.

Anyway, you definitely seem to be having a lot of bad luck if you keep getting great feedback directly from the companies and then nothing develops. The recession (which seems like it’s hitting worldwide, not just the states) is definitely making things difficult, my design position is also in a state of decay! And I’m definitely not looking forward to starting a job hunt given the current conditions. I’d be interested to see what others think, especially the more experienced.

Ask for a meeting with the recruiter. You need to find out why you aren’t getting the calls. Yes it is tough out there, but you have experience and there are jobs (we are as busy as we usually are and in the UK shoe trade things are utterly grim, much worse than the US). Ask for their honesty. If they place you in a role, they make money out of you, you need to find out why you aren’t being put forward. I think you need to take control of the situation.

On the other hand, I’ve found there are some agencies I just can’t get any joy out of. One agency I know of did not put me forward for a freelance role at ‘x’ retailer. Just kept fobbing me off. Ironically I have ended up freelancing for a supplier of this retailer on a regular basis. At least I know in my heart that I was up to the job.

Did you try casting your net wider? What kind of role are you looking for and where? Only that I have one or two recent mails in my inbox from recruiters looking for USA based designers.

From the other side of the fence (*and I’m not saying this is you, at all, just some observations!!)

I can think of a couple of reasons an agency might be reluctant to place someone. The footwear trade is pretty small, worldwide and therefore gossip travels easily. Agencies soon find out if a designer is a serial deadline misser or has problems with alcohol for instance.
Another is the really picky candidate. Talented but picky. Gets sent to lots of interviews but always decides that the company isn’t good enough for them, perhaps they don’t like the desks, or something equally as picky. This kind of candidate can give an agency a reputation for sending out time wasters. So they just don’t deal with this kind of candidate. It’s fine to be picky, but you have to have some respect for the recruiter who is trying to place you. Their earnings are commision based therefore your indecision could mean their lack of salary. Can anyone think of any more?

As a freelancer agencies have never been keen on me BTW - they just don’t make that much money out of freelancers, so they don’t really put the effort in to place me! :laughing:

Of course it can work both ways. An agency I’m signed up sent designers to a job interview at a company, but they never ever selected anyone for the role. it was like it didn’t exist. For almost a year they interviewed and nothing. They must’ve interviewed everyone I knew. (Including me). It was the worst interview I ever had. The guy just swung around in his swivel chair, not at all interested in what I had to say. I wanted to scream at him. ‘Why am I here if you have no interest?’ So it can work both ways. This guy drove the agency mad.

some good advice here already.

  1. post up your work and im sure you’ll get a valuable, honest opinion from everyone here that will help. it would also help to better understand your situation if you could post some info about the jobs you are applying for (no need for the company names per se, but position and description could help to see the fit).

ill also try to add my experiences with similar situations.

fist off, dont get discouraged. it may take many interviews, applications to find the right one, but it only takes one right one to get a job.

im not sure how many places you applied, but two interviews is not a lot. in my 7+ years experience, ive had 3 solid jobs (now working for myself), but have applied to likely 100’s of jobs, and even been flown around the world for at least 10 interviews. some didnt work out on their end (they hired internally, found another better candidate, or put the position on hold) and some on mine (wasnt a good fit with the company/position, had a better offer, etc.). bottomline, the job search IS a search and the number of people that hit it on the first go is small. if anything i feel the more interviews i go to the better to improve my presentation skills, know my own experience better, and get a feel for how different companies work.

recruiters make money when they place an applicant in a position (a % of salary, usually). it is in their best interest to have as many potential applicants in their “roster” and doesnt really cost them to keep you one file or send your stuff in to a variety of positions if there is potential (they wont send your stuff out though if its really a not good fit though, as they want to be known for having a high quality of applicants). that being said, i’ve also dealt with countless recruiters (some i found, some found me), and most will say pretty much the same thing you mentioned “looks good, ill send it along, should hear back good news soon…, etc”. again, keep in mind their business model for a different perspective on why they say what they did.

best thing i can suggest is to perhaps try again to get more specific/direct feedback from the recruiters/companies. some may not return your calls (ive had this happen MANY times), but if you can at least establish a relationship with a few good recruiters (while still working with many other OK ones) and find some solid contacts in the companies you interview at (HR managers can sometimes be helpful, otherwise good to get the contact details of the design director manager), you might be able to get better info as to what they are looking for and how you fit.

keep up with the hunt. the footwear industry is very competitive, and depending on your experience and what you are looking for it can be hard to transition, esp. if you are in a smaller brand now doing more in-line stuff + development as you mention, to a larger more design focused company looking for more “pure” design talent…



i don’t usually go by way of recruiters because they only look out for themselves, with you and many others being in their stable of potential candidates.

if i were you, i would go DIRECTLY to the manufacturer/firm’s website and email them for opportunities instead. this way, they will get a sense of who you are firsthand, instead of having some middleman “sell” you to them.

also, as you may already know, be VERY VERY persistent. it may take weeks, even months to find something that suits you. the best advice i can give you is to be very flexible in the jobs that you apply for. you don’t have to be a shoe designer forever. you can be a toy designer, apparel designer, be in graphics and print. the world’s your oyster, basically :slight_smile: just make sure you try to stand out every which way you can.

Hi all,

Thanks for all of your suggestion and sharing your related situations. Like many of you had mentioned, I hope things will improve and change for all of us. There doesn’t seem to be many job opening for footwear or maybe I’m just not looking at the right places, either way I’ve taken many of you professional suggestion since then and also found the time to up-date just some of my works online. Please feel free to see the link I’ve posted below as some of you have suggested for your viewing pleasure, opinion, and professional feedback.

Here are two links:

that looks like a solid bit of work. I’m not a shoe designer, so take it for what it’s worth.

I really dig the reebok skate shoes, especially the EQ detail. Reminds me of those battery powered, sound reactive tshirts(EQ T-Shirt 2 - YouTube) with eq graphics that animate.

I think your stuff looks sharp, but where’s your personal website? I think you could sell yourself much bettter that way.

Have you tried freelance creative staffing firms yet. I have found, in my past experience at least, that going through a creative staffing agency works well because many companies like to test drive you through the creative staffers before commiting to hire you.


Hey bennybtl,
Thanks for appreciating the Reebok skate shoes and the EQ detail on the D.J shoe. The shoe had a very great concept story, but because it was more commercial driven, the design needed to be tone down in order to sale internationally as well in the U.S. The youtube video of the Q T-Shirt 2 is sick, I’v seen it in Japan.
Hi Josh,
I don’t have a personal website set up yet for multiple reason, but it’s mainly because I still can’t find a good web designer yet that knows Flash, uploading still images and video.
I took a look at your personal website & designs and it looks profession, clear to understand, web-friendly and simple. Would you be willing to share your web designer contact? Will it make a difference if I had my own personal webpage verses an online public page like coroflot and styleportfolios?

I am very much open to designing anything as long as it’s creative and fresh. I graduated college with a bachelor degree in Industrial Design like many of you and have a love for problem solving and pushing the envelope. Honestly, I don’t know where to even begin to search for a freelance creative staffing firm agency. I’ll try googling it and I’m sure something will come up. In the pass I’ve always gotten a lot of call from recruiters from small firm to large ones and it has not taken me very far as many of you had shared similar experience and commented.
I’ll continue pushing!

Network, network, network.

I’ve noticed your one-and-only post is over a month old now… If that’s indicative of your networking skills, you’re not going to make it–get involved! The boards here on Core could be exactly what you need to find that killer job. Start by posting your work!

[quote=“kicks designer”]Hi Josh,
I don’t have a personal website set up yet for multiple reason, but it’s mainly because I still can’t find a good web designer yet that knows Flash, uploading still images and video.
I took a look at your personal website & designs and it looks profession, clear to understand, web-friendly and simple. Would you be willing to share your web designer contact? Will it make a difference if I had my own personal webpage verses an online public page like coroflot and styleportfolios?"

I am sure there will be some that disagree, and hopefully they would speak up for both our benefits with a good counterpoint, but it’s imperative to have your own domain/site. Coroflot is indispensable, but it is still their product, their vision, and you are one of an army of designers that have posted their work and are jostling for attention. Coroflot will also give many people an intro to your work, but your own web site will be the meat and potatoes to really show what you’re all about. With your site, you are featured every hour of every day. Your work is presented surrounded by your vision and is you as an individual. It’s your business card, your resume, and, your portfolio.

Think of it this way too… In this image conscious world, what looks more professional; when you say “just shoot me an email at” or “you can email me at”? Choice one makes you instantly your own company or brand, while choice 2 makes you more amateurish. It’s the same with giving them the choice of or Choice 1 is the more professional option.

Thanks for checking out my site. I did it my self, so I have plenty of advice to offer regarding that. Score a copy of Dreamweaver CS3 (you can learn to use it in a day and get good at it in a couple of weeks with a little dedication.) Design it in Photoshop or Illustrator and use either one’s “Slice” feature to cut it in to pieces. There is an export command for web in both AI and PS that will do all of the saving for you. Dreamweaver has tutorials and templates that can guide you through the whole process. To start with, I would stay away from Flash and stick with html. It’ll be easier for people to look at and find your site. You can still make it look great. Just use as much html text as possible that is descriptive of your work because that is how search engines find your site best. You went to Pratt, right? If you made it through all of the sleepless nights for same day due dates for studio and 3D projects, you can do your web site.

There’s a lot more than that, but it’s enought to get you started. Feel free to PM or email me if you want to talk about it more.

Good luck,