Finding Design Work in a New City

There’s nothing more exciting than moving to a new city to start over. With a new address comes new friends and awesome opportunities that you may not have had access to before. It can be life changing and wonderful, but it isn’t always easy landing a job pre-move.

Normally you have to move first, then start applying for jobs, which can be the scariest and loneliest feeling in the world. And sometimes, you have to do more than just have a killer portfolio and resume to get you where you want to be.

If you have just moved to a new city and are having problems finding a job, I feel your pain. About a year ago I moved straight across the country from Orlando, FL to Portland, OR with just my laptop and a car full clothes to call my own. I had no job, no apartment and absolutely no connections. I was scared out of my mind.

But that feeling didn’t last very long.

In less than 1 week I landed a great new job that I still work at today. So, if you’re having troubles finding your next full time design gig, try putting some extra elbow grease in your job finding efforts by following these tips.

Make the big announcement

Before you start to pack up, work on creating a vibrant graphic announcing your big move. Start to get on people’s radars by honestly asking for help, and see if you can make any new friends by asking if anyone wants to go grab a coffee once you’re moved in.


Check out this awesome hand lettered graphic by Nathan Yoder that he made to announce his move to Portland from Oklahoma.

This graphic worked great for Nathan because it got people invested in his story because he was brave enough to share it. You would be surprised to know that your followers on social media may be just the connection you need to land your next awesome gig, or at very least a familiar face in an unfamiliar city.

Make actual connections on Linkedin

This step might seem a bit obvious, but a lot of people don’t invest the time to really make connections on this platform. You have to do more then just send an invite to connect with the placeholder “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” You’re suppose to be a creative right? So go above and beyond and write a personal message.

Linkedin Personal Message

Here’s an example of a short but personal message I wrote to an awesome illustrator I’ve been following on Instagram. You don’t have to go overboard to make a personal connection, just be friendly.

Find the leaders in your niche industry and do some research. Check out their portfolios, follow them on Twitter and try to get to know the person first before you make contact. Believe me, it is much more enticing for the CEO of Dropbox to add you on Linkedin if you stand out in his sea of emails by being real and not just another automated message.

Join design organizations

Although many subscriptions to design organizations can be pricey, they can really give you that something extra to put your resume over the edge. You can really benefit if you’re still a student by taking advantage of all the awesome discounts.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 5.21.47 PM

Sites like AIGA and Freelancers Union are extremely valuable when it comes to better understanding your field, who’s who in the design industry, and getting the chance to speak to artists and designers that inspire you.

At this new phase of your life, it’s important to soak up all the knowledge and advice you can so you can get noticed and gain some recognition for your work. The opportunities for learning and growth are endless.

Besides national organizations, get more invested in your new city by checking out some local chapters and associates for design. Believe me, they’re out there, and you could be one networking event away from landing your dream job. So it’s worth checking out sites like Meetup and Eventbrite so you can start to get involved in your new community.

Consider using a recruiter

There are a ton of job recruiter companies out there for design – it’s kind of ridiculous actually. So if you’re not the networking type, this may be the best way to go. Especially if you’re in a huge design hub like, San Francisco, Portland, Boston, Austin or New York.

Here are my top recommendations for recruiters:

Vitamin Talent Agency

Vitamin Talent

Also known as Vitamin T, this talent agency has recruitment opportunities all over the world. So whether you’re looking for work in Miami, FL or Sydney, Australia this company can land you an excellent design job with some of the best companies out there.

Aquent Talent Agency


This company also has locations all over and extends it services to not only creatives but marketing professionals as well. Also a great job board resource, you can also apply for job directly on the website after you sign up.

24Seven Talent Agency

24 Seven

This agency isn’t just for designers and is a great resource in finding jobs in all different kinds of industries like fashion, retail and event planning. So you may be able to find more medium to small business opportunities then just big brand jobs like Vitamin T and Aquent.

Never stop creating

Although you may be getting frustrated because you haven’t found any full time work yet, it doesn’t mean you should stop working altogether. You’re in this industry because you love it, you’re good at it and it makes you happy. So why stop because you don’t have a job?

Work on some personal projects to explore your talents and keep your design eye fresh. Divide your day between looking for traditional ways to get work while also creating your own projects. Never stop putting out work and sharing it on sites like Instagram, Behance and Dribbble. You never know, your next job might just come find you.

Final Thoughts

Needless to say you should already be on sites like Indeed, Coroflot, Authentic Jobs and Krop, looking on job boards and applying to new positions daily. It’s the bread and butter of finding work after all and has been working well for decades. But just in case you need that extra push, these tips should get you noticed.

Do you have any stories of your own to share that helped you land that awesome design job? I’d love to hear your tips in the comments below.

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