The “hard” skills as described in our last article, What Employers Are Looking for in Graphic Designers - Part I, gave a list of the skill sets that graphic design job candidates should have.
In this article we’ll look into the set of skills and attributes called “soft skills” that can play as important a role in landing a graphic design job as graphic design talent.
The “Soft” Skills
Soft skills are attributes that have to do with a person’s work ethic, teamwork skills, and positive personality traits that are important in the dynamics of the workplace.
The following examples are some of the soft skills employers like to see in their graphic designers.
* Flexibility - Graphic designers who understand the work and flow of how design projects are handled know that there can be last minute changes, delays or deadlines that need to be moved up. Employers want graphic designers that can be flexible and adapt to an ever changing work environment without being stubborn about “how things should be”.
* Meet Deadlines - In the perfect world deadlines are scheduled with enough time to finish a project — but in the real world this rarely is the case. Last minute changes made by the clients, problems with press production or other factors outside your control can take you off track and cause delays. But successful graphic designers know how to manage their time and prioritize tasks in order to meet deadlines.
* Strong Communication Skills - Graphic design projects that turn out wrong are sometimes due to poor communication with the client or as a result of a misunderstanding of what needs to be done. Good communication skills, both verbal and written, are essential for a graphic designer to do the best job possible.
* Team Player - If you are attending a graphic design school, are taking classes to further your graphic design education or work in an office you know what one uncooperative person in the workplace can do to lower morale. A person who isn’t a “lone wolf” or someone that isn’t out to only further their own career is an individual that is considered a valuable member of the team.
* Creative and Resourceful - There are many people who have talent in graphic design but those who are creative, resourceful and can think outside the box are highly treasured by design firms. Knowing all the elements of how to design is not enough. What separates the average graphic designer from those who are truly creative is how effectively concepts can be understood and modified to present a coherent idea through the use of a variety of graphical elements.
A Wise Manager
This true story was related to us about a graphics design manager who was in search of a new graphics person for his department. He interviewed literally hundreds of applicants and finally decided upon an individual who just graduated from college, but had no real work experience.
When the manager was asked why he selected the untested individual he replied that the person he chose “seemed to be a good fit for the department and was willing to learn new things.”
His philosophy was that given the choice between arrogant talent and a good fit, he would choose the good fit because talent can always be improved upon, while negative personal traits are often more difficult to change.
Soft skills are very important to employers and should not be overlooked. Make sure you develop your people skills as well as your graphic design education and graphic skills.
Now that we’ve covered hard and soft skills our next article in this series will focus on what your portfolio should look like, what it should include and other hints on qualifying for a graphic design position.
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