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Hints and tips when applying for a job

We get applications at GRIN for full-time positions and work experience every day. These range from the good, the brilliant and unfortunately, the bad. We’d like to share some dos and don’ts with you as we much prefer receiving applications that tick all the boxes and give you a fair crack of the whip, so to speak. So here we go…

Might be worth noting: These tips are more biased towards a designer position, because that’s what I am! However the majority can be applied to any position.


When applying for a creative position at GRIN, your CV, portfolio and website should be branded. If you can’t brand yourself then how can we trust you with our fabulously branded clients? It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, keep it clean, simple and most importantly, consistent. Your CV should be a maximum of two pages long. Things to include? A short statement/profile, previous jobs, relevant work experience, education and software skills and of course, what makes you tick.

It should go without saying but just in case, we do expect a CV which showcases some level of design skill and presents yourself in the best light.


If we had a pound for the amount of times we’ve seen a covering letter/email, CV or portfolio littered with spelling mistakes, we’d be a wealthy bunch! We are creatives, not spelling and grammar experts, so we don’t expect you to be language geniuses, however, spell check is available with all software these days, and it’s always best to get someone else to take a second look. We’re sure your mum or other half won’t mind checking if you’ve made any silly mistakes. There’s really no excuse and these small errors show a lack of attention to detail and more importantly, can give a negative first impression.

Cover Letter/Email

Speaking of cover letters… don’t forget to include one. This can be a couple of paragraphs in the body of the email that has your CV and/or portfolio attached. This simply needs to summarise your experience and why you’d like to work for us. A classic rookie mistake is sending a blanket cover letter and forgetting to change the name of the company, worst still, not even naming who you’re sending the email to! Remember to tailor your letter to the business and skills you are applying to. We’ll see straight through it if you don’t. Your CV should fulfil all the prerequisites and your covering letter or email should be an opportunity to give us a taste of your personality. Be brief, be honest and be yourself.


To stand out from the crowd, your portfolio needs to be beautifully laid out, yet clean and simple. Only show your best work and don’t forget to include a short summary of each piece for instances when you can’t be there to explain the artwork to the viewer. Don’t reveal all your cards in one go. Email us over some key artwork that shows us what you can do to secure an interview, but hold back a couple of additional pieces back to wow us in person.

Speaking of the interview, be prepared! Ensure you bring an up-to-date printed portfolio along, this will always win over an online example, in terms of colour, presentation and effort, plus, if you have any physical examples, those are always nice too. Not only do they give us more information about your print knowledge, it proves you can talk about the project from brief to delivery.

If you have live websites in your portfolio, link to them via the PDF, or be prepared to show us those in the interview. Finally, be mindful about the artwork you’re showing us. If it was a great piece of creative, but wasn’t chosen by the client, state that. Otherwise it can look misleading. We will always look over artwork and links after the interview.

Oops I lied, one more thing… don’t block our inbox with a portfolio that’s 18MB – keep your file size down. It just looks sloppy and it’s a real effort to download!

Social Media

We might give you a little google, so check what happens when you google yourself. Perhaps be cautious with what you post when applying for a job. It might be worthing making some profiles private as you never know who’s checking you out.

Why didn’t you get the job?

Have you sent your CV and portfolio through to us and had no joy? Or perhaps you’ve come for an interview but didn’t get the job. This might be why… experience is key. I can already hear you saying, how am I meant to get experience if you or other agencies won’t give me any? Perhaps you’re just starting out, or maybe even stuck in an in-house role and need to build up your portfolio. The big question is, how do you get more experience? Believe it or not there are quite a few ways; practice responding to briefs by finding some projects to work on online; do some work experience (yes that’s working for free) and offer to do some unpaid work for local businesses; once you’ve done all this and have started to build up your portfolio and confidence, then start freelancing. Working with real businesses and carrying projects through from start to finish, will help build a good reputation, the best form of marketing and advertising is through referrals – word will soon spread and hopefully before you know it you’ll have people coming to you.

You might be thinking, I’ve done all that! I’ve got the experience, qualifications and a great portfolio and I still didn’t get the job. What happened? Well, here at GRIN, of course we want your amazing creativity and skills, but we are all about people. It takes a certain character to be part of GRIN. We expect you to fit in with the rest of the team and yet bring your own individual flair, without frightening off the clients. When you’ve got a great team and the right working environment, the best creative work follows.

We hope you found this a little bit useful. Keep an eye out for part two – the account handling application.

Featured image credit: Vitaly Velgo, Bēhance