Develop your skills

The sections below offer advice for making a strong impression and building a network of creative contacts that will help develop and shape your career.

From tips for networking, to creating your online brand and getting your portfolio right – each section has been designed to provide you with useful advice for finding the career you want.

You can also book an appointment to come and chat with us about your career, or visit Student Services: email or call +44 1202 363355.

Excel at networking

Join local networking and meet-up groups where you can meet and get to know people and share ideas in your area of interest.

The idea of networking can make some people nervous, but many of these groups are about getting to know people before any thoughts of business.

Try and talk to people who produce work in a slightly different field to yours. You could find you’re a great fit for future projects together.

Show an interest in the person you are talking to and don’t just focus on whether they can give you a job or work experience.

Browse event listing websites such as Event Britepeer to pier and meetup for details of events and local meet-ups. Local meet-up groups include Meetdraw.

Attend events that relate to your chosen industry, such as conferences and exhibitions. Make sure you collect business cards and connect with attendees afterwards to continue the dialogue e.g. via LinkedIn.

Try writing a few words on the back of business cards so that you can remember who the person was and what they do.

Networking is about listening and helping others, a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ approach when you offer help first, and ask for it second. It can often be better to scratch first but don’t always expect a scratch back.


Increasingly, creative students and graduates are developing quality portfolios, blogs, websites and social media profiles.

These approaches can help you to promote your work to other professionals, such as art directors, clients and customers.

Look for your design heroes on Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter and strike up a conversation. Follow those who inspire you and ask for opinion or advice on your own work.

Suggestions from those in the know are invaluable for pushing you in the direction of those who can help make your work reach a wider audience.

Create your own blog about what inspires you. Read other blogs that provide advice, information and useful links for your industry. If you like a post, tweet or re-post the link so that your followers can read it. Although comments sections are informal, make sure your comment is well-crafted and makes sense.

Having your own blog can be a good way to showcase your writing skills and your knowledge of a specific area, but keep it focused and predominantly about your work or related industry.

Sites such as WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr make setting up your own blog straightforward. Before you start, map out your content and have a few pieces that you can post over the first few weeks.

Generate interest in your posts by providing links via other accounts such as Instagram or LinkedIn.

Your online brand

Recruiters, agents and employers often use social media to check out new creatives and new work.

Ensure you have a professional-looking account and if necessary create one separate to your existing personal accounts.

Make sure you would be happy for employers to see your content. Make your contributions interesting, informed and literate.

The following links might help:

Lynda: Creating your own personal brand (video) explains how you can develop your brand identity.

Lynda: Personal branding on social media (video) looks specifically at networking on the web.

CVs and applications

Your CV is essentially a marketing document about you that provides a recruiter with a brief overview of your skills, achievements and suitability for a role within their company.

A CV must be tailored to the employer and their job requirements where possible, so that they can immediately see how you would fit with their organisation.

This might mean you have slightly different versions of your CV.

Your CV should always be seen as a continually evolving document, which changes in response to new skills and experiences that you develop, as well as the requirements of particular jobs.

In the interview

Try and have a bright, enthusiastic and positive attitude when you walk into the room, good eye contact and a firm handshake.

Research suggests that may employers make up their minds about applicants very early on in the process, based on body language, eye contact and other non-verbal cues.

Listen carefully to questions, give yourself time to respond and don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer to repeat the question.

Ask questions about the role and the company. This will show that you are enthusiastic and have taken the time to think about the job and prepare for the interview.

At the end of the interview, thank the employer for their time and reassure them that you want to work for them. Stay positive and enthusiastic and smile when you say goodbye.

What to wear

What you look like and the clothes you wear will say a lot about you in a short space of time.

The employer will want to see that you can fit in. Even in the creative industries, it can be better to dress smartly for an interview than to look too casual.

If you can, visit the company before the day of the interview and stand outside and observe what other people are wearing to go to work there.

It is difficult to naturally change unconscious behaviours in the stressful situation of an interview. Nevertheless the way you ‘carry yourself’ in an interview has been shown to be influential when choosing a candidate.

A video from how to highlights “how to ace an interview with your body language”.

This TED talk offers guidance on body language shaping who you are and how you come across.


In some cases, you will have an opportunity to talk through your portfolio or show reel. Your portfolio can be a script as well as a showcase for your work.

You can use work within to prompt you about some of the key skills you want the employer to know about.

Take a little time to practice talking through your portfolio. Get a good idea of what you want to say about each piece of work, so you can talk your way through your portfolio with effortless authority.

Talk a little about projects, the challenges, the end result, and your involvement. If you felt that the end result was somehow compromised then don’t be afraid to say so but remember to keep it on a positive note; “what I’d really loved to have done here was this…”

Make sure that you share the thing(s) you are particularly strong at: editing, storytelling, typesetting, ideas generation, project management, speed, accuracy, client focus, price, experience, technical prowess, whatever it may be don’t be shy. They won’t know unless you tell them.

Each and every project has its own little story worth telling. Nobody in the room knows more about your work than you do.

Try to gauge how much you should be talking based on the reactions of the interviewer. Perhaps ask them if they would like you to talk them through it or whether they want to scan the work without a running commentary.

After the interview

There are potential benefits to actively following up an interview.

Get in touch after the interview to thank them for their time. Let them know you are interested and ask what the next steps in the process are.

If you are unsuccessful, ask for feedback as this will help you to work on improving areas of weakness in your interview technique and/or your portfolio of work.

Always remain friendly and positive with the company as you may end up applying to them again for another role. If you made a good impression and showed enthusiasm they may consider you next time they are recruiting.

The following links might help with your preparation: