Why can't I find a junior designer job?

I graduated from my program 3 years ago in advertising and graphic design while also having a previous diploma in business management. I’ve been struggling to find employment in my field. I tried reaching out, networking while applying online, however haven't received any response nor offers. I need advice on any available programs or opportunities I can do that will hopefully lead me to work. I’m part of the RGD and did a mentorship program and managed to fix my resume and portfolio. I also attended your Portfolio Review Night for extra assistance however, so far it hasn’t lead to any offers.

Are there any places that help you find jobs within design and advertising? I tried using Creative Circle and they weren’t able to find a position available in my field. I’m using Acces Employment now but they weren’t able to find any jobs and didn’t have any opportunities in the field of creative.

Honestly I need help and I'm struggling to find any job opportunities for me as a junior graphic designer. I do have experience working as a graphic design intern for a startup. I’ve used LinkedIn and Indeed and other job sites; however, the majority of them didn’t respond back and I’ve been constantly applying and checking. I need help and advice on what my next step should be.

There's no one service or one person that can make job hunting really easy. Honestly, the whole process of job hunting is a slog. The internet can make it feel like job hunting should be easy, with sites like LinkedIn or Indeed displaying tons of job postings. But it’s not as in your control as it may seem.

I think the people that have the easiest time job hunting do these three things:

  1. Give yourself every opportunity to hear from the places you want to work, even when you’re not looking, so you know when they put out the call that they're hiring. Businesses don’t all use the same tools for hiring, so you can’t rely on an automated LinkedIn email to stay on top of things. Dig into the businesses that you want to work for. Check their websites for job listings, follow them on social, sign up for any newsletters. If you're a designer, this is exactly why I built the Toronto Design Directory.

  2. Widen your net by looking for more than just “Junior Graphic Designer” jobs. Titles like “designer” or “graphic designer”, or more specific roles like social media designer, visual designer, UX/UI designer, or web designer. Even “design officer” or “communications designer”, “marketing designer”, those jobs can right for you, just with different titles or more specific duties. A lot of people make narrow assumptions of what they’re qualified for and automatically count themselves out (especially women). See what else sounds close to what you're looking for; interviews are for figuring out how good the fit is for both sides.
  1. Networking. Many jobs are not posted online, and are filled by word of mouth and referrals. So, it's really, really important to have a good network that you maintain. That doesn’t mean meeting a person once, adding them on LinkedIn, and hoping they’ll reach out to you one day. If you’re job hunting, reach out to your contacts and say “I'm looking for a new job, if you could let me know if you hear of anything you think it might be a good fit for I’d appreciate it”.

    Good networking also means meeting a variety of people. You said in your letter that you've done some networking and attended some mentoring-style events like Portfolio Review Night. Widening your net in this area will help too. Don’t just talk to designers or go to portfolio-related events. Get to know people in other roles and even people in different industries. Attend talks, art shows, conferences, even parties. Anybody can be the contact that helps you next.

Finally, you said you used Creative Circle, which is a recruiting agency here in Toronto. I find recruiting agencies don't tend to hire juniors. External recruiting agencies usually get paid a percentage of the base salary of the role they're hiring for. Since juniors aren’t paid a lot, recruiters don't make a whole lot of money off of those roles. Businesses don’t often use recruiters to hire juniors either because those rules aren't hard to fill. They’re not specialized or require any particular experience, so you don't really need a recruiter to find the right candidate. If Creative Circle told you there's no junior roles, that doesn't surprise me. Recruiters just don’t tend to hire for junior positions.

You also mentioned using Access Employment to find jobs. I find services that are not industry-specific aren’t super useful either. I'm sure there's exceptions, but generally speaking if the people working at a company like that don't know the design and advertising fields very well themselves, it's unlikely they're gonna be able to connect you with those jobs or give you useful advice because they won’t be familiar with those industry norms or requirements.

Job hunting is really hard, it takes a long time. It usually takes months to find the right job, and unfortunately there's not a lot you can do about that. Part of it is just a numbers game: so many people apply to a given job that the odds are just not in your favour for being selected out of that pool. Sometimes it even comes down to good timing: companies aren’t always hiring when you’re looking, and that's not something anybody can control. You can take some of the pressure off yourself when you acknowledge these facts and that there’s nothing you can do about them.