Career advice

I’ve been working as a Digital Designer for the past 6 years. I have no relevant university degree but I studied Graphic design at college and completed an apprenticeship in Digital design which landed me my first full time role.

Since then I’ve worked predominantly doing email design and GIF animations for one of the largest retailers in the UK (this was pretty much 99% of the companies business). The agency I worked for was small with 3 designers (including myself) and one of which was part time So I had a fair bit of responsibility.

Occasionally we had the odd print job, Web banner, landing page, logos and other formats. Although all in small quantities in comparison to email design. But I have some experience across the field.

I also worked directly with one of the largest toy companies in the world to create a new template and look for their emails which included interactive tech and personalisation. - this was short lived in comparison to the work with the retailer due to covid.

Through the client I am now working at one of the largest agencies in the world but working only on that same account, still doing emails.

Here’s my problem…

I have no portfolio because all of my work has been ‘confidential’ and is hard to retrieve. I have saved some over the years but they are all for one client except I think I may an example for the second client. But 99% client 1.

I believe I’m underpaid and still only working on the same client I have been for the last 6 years

I need to move on for my own development but I am unsure in how to market myself to new employers with nothing to show them. I’m also a bit unsure what type of job I should be looking for. Because although I was doing email design for massive brands and I had a lot of responsibility there in terms of work load and even meeting clients, I don’t have a lot of experience in other formats.

Looks like you’ve painted yourself into a corner a bit.

I’d start by developing a portfolio of your actual work.

Any reasonable employer will see that you have worked the same client for 6 years.
There’s plenty of design companies who ‘farm out’ designers to work as in-house designers in other companies.

I’d start by trying to get into places like those. There main thing will a company that offers Printing Services, and act as an intermediary between a client and a printers - the middle man to be precise.

Most printing services, or Print Logistics, offer design services, warehousing, and other things, and usually have a print manager for big clients.

For example, Coca Cola don’t do all their own printing, or all their own storage, the marketing and design teams there find print logistics to co-ordinate their efforts, especially for promotions, to print/store/distribute FSDUs and other collateral.

If you can get yourself in the door with a Print Logistics or similar role - maybe it’s Web Logistic type of company with your experience in email formatting and GIF designing etc.

Owning and maintaining a brand design and identity for key clients is a huge thing - and something sought after.

I’d 100% hire someone who had spent 6 years maintaining a clients brand - over someone with dotted experience and non-relevant material in the portfolio - for a role like this.

My main thing for you would be to concentrate on what you’re good at the front of your portfoilo - portray yourself well in the 6 years working with this client.

If that’s 3 or 4 key pieces each year, showcasing 18-24 pieces for this client.

Then at the end of the portfolio you could show a range of other material that you have worked on and are proud to show - but towards the back of the portfoilo.

Is that the right approach for evey job application?
Absolutely not - tailor your portfolio to each job appliaction - read what they’re looking for and decide how many pieces, what is front of house and what can stay hidden towards the back.

Glitz up your CV - 1 page is more than enough.
Highlight firstly your contact details.
Then Education - put in as many educational certs that you have that are relevant to the position.
If you don’t have any - don’t worry about it.

If you have 1 job to showcase and 1 client that you worked for.
Bullet point the lists

Year 1

  • We Achieved this

  • We Achieved That

  • Key responsibilities

Key Achievement

  • Personally headed a nationwide campaign

Year 2

  • Design progression

  • More responsibility and shifts

Key Achievement

  • On-boarded new system …explanation

Year 3

  • etc