Design Graduates Clever CV Campaign Wins him his Dream Design Job

Ryan Mcleod Design Graduate's clever cv gets him his first design jobIn this interview Ryan MCleod talks about how he got his first design job through a clever cv campaign

Tara: Please can you tell me a little bit about yourself, where you work and the type of work you do?

Ryan: I work for a full service digital agency called Equator in Glasgow, Scotland ( We do a whole host of digital media based work like websites, campaigns, social media stuff and apps. I’m part of the design team who work on all the concepts and visuals covering a few disciplines but mainly graphic and interaction design. We work with a whole range of companies across many sectors including hotels, energy, financial and consumer goods.

Tara: You got yourself noticed by creating a really clever promotion to  get yourself a job out of University, please could you explain what you did and  how you came up with the idea?

Ryan: After graduating from my undergraduate degree (Interactive Media Design) I decided that I wanted to stay in academia for another year and do a Masters in Design. It was early in my masters year that I decided my next step would be into the industry of digital design so I decided to craft myself a CV and associated campaign. Before I started coming up with ideas or creating designs, I sat down and wrote out all the elements I needed to consider in my application:

  • I wanted a job doing digital design
  • I wanted to stay in Scotland
  • I wanted to aim high and work for the best company possible
  • I needed something that would catch an employer’s attention
  • I needed to create something memorable
  • My campaign had to have the flexibility to be customised for each job
  • The job had to start in September after I had finished my Masters of Design

Taking all this into consideration I started to brainstorm some ideas. I wanted to create an application that was memorable and I felt the best way to do this would be through a physical object. So that even if I didn’t get the job, they would keep the object and I would be kept at the back of their minds until the future. So I decided to go with an object that every office has lots of and something people use multiple times a day, a mug but I couldn’t write my CV and qualifications on a mug. I decided to make my entire application digital as it would be easier to customise and I already had an online portfolio. I sent out the mug with a card inside that said ‘The countdown has begun’ with a URL and a password. The URL revealed a countdown timer, which counted down to the point at which I finished my masters and was available for employment. Once the password was entered it revealed my customised covering letter with the company logo and links to my portfolio, CV, twitter, blog and contact details. I had planned to roll this out across several agencies but in the end the campaign worked first time and landed me a job at Equator, the biggest digital agency in Scotland.

Tara: You have now created a guide for design students and graduates looking for work please could you tell me a bit about it and why you created it?

Ryan: It’s an aim of Equator to influence design education and help students be better prepared when graduating and as a graduate of Art College I feel I have a bit of a responsibility to share the knowledge I have gained working in industry. As part of this objective I have been guest lecturing and tutoring on the Digital Interaction Design course at Dundee University. As part of this I have tried to give the students an insight into agency life and an overview of the processes we use on a daily basis. During one of the Q&A sessions I had I noticed a lot questions about CVs and self promotion. So I decided the best way to help the students would be to create a simple guide to creating a creative CV. Initially the guide was only intended for the students I was working with but I soon saw the potential it had to help anyone looking for employment in the creative industries. After uploading the document to slideshare and emailing it out to all the design courses in the UK there has been
nearly 10,000 views, nearly 400 downloads, 220 facebook likes and 150 tweets about it.

Tara: Both you and the company you work for are trying to have an impact on design in education, please could tell me what sort of things you are doing?

Ryan: Equator have been working with a couple of other Universities, sending in members of the design team to talk to the students about industry life and tutoring the students through creative briefs as part of their course work. This work and the CV guide are starting points in having a positive impact on design education and something which Equator is aiming to build upon in the future. In terms of the guides, I have already created a second guide on inspiration that will be getting released shortly and I have been speaking to more students about what kinds of guides they would like to see next. The plan is to develop a site to showcase all these guides and create a useful resource for students, graduates and anyone else who might be interested.

Tara: Where can people find out more about you and connect with you?


Free Graphic Design Software for when you are Learning Graphic Design

If you are learning graphic design and haven’t got a big budget, the first investment I would suggest is a layout pad and pencil/pen (yes – seriously). The most important thing will always be your ideas and the design rather than the tools you use to implement them. However when you are ready to take your ideas on to the computer there are a couple of good websites you may want to try to find free graphic design software as alternatives to paid commercial programs.

Alternative to
On this site you have a couple of options, if you have something specific you are looking for – type in the mainstream commercial design program ie. Dreamweaver and then it will give you a list of alternatives (both paid and free).

Free graphic design software

To narrow it down to just Free and Open source use the drop “Filter by License” menu. You can also filter by platform – Mac, PC or Linux.

Opensource design software

With “Alternative to” you also have the option to browse through software by choosing your platform from the top menu and then choosing the type of software you are looking for.


Here you can simply search for the commercial graphics software (eg. Photoshop) that you are trying to find an open source alternative to. When you have found it select it and underneath you will find a list of alternatives along with which platform they are available for Mac, Windows or Linux.

Osalt Open source design software

Have fun, but don’t forget the humble pencil!

Logo Design Tutorial Exercise 3 for Complete Beginners

For more tips on learning design straight to your inbox click here

When you are working on a logo design project:

1. First you will have taken a design brief

Read Why is a Design Brief so Important

2. Then done some research and started brainstorming

You can read a bit about doing some basic research in Logo Design Tutorial to Design a Charity Logo
See an example of brainstorming in one of the the previous Logo Design Tutorials

3. Sometimes a moodboard will help you find the right feel for a logo

Logo design Mood Board

You may find the odd project where you really struggle for ideas or to work out the right sort of “feel” for the logo. This is where moodboards can come in.

If you haven’t heard of moodboards before they are traditionally big boards (pieces of mountboard or card) which are filled with images, bits of type, perhaps colours and anything which you feel is in the direction of the type of design you are trying to achieve.

When I produce moodboards I generally get together any leaflets I have lying around, buy magazines which I feel fit with the type of market or niche I am designing for and rip out bits and pieces that I like and then paste them on to a big board. I might also include images, logos and type that I find online and print out. There is something about the act of getting away from the computer and really looking at other images that really helps to get you mind going again. Once the moodboard/s are complete you can then use them alongside your brainstorms to stimulate logo ideas. Perhaps you might really like the way a piece of typography works or a colour combination on some of the bits you have torn out.

If you are pushed for time (and I use this method too) you can always create digital moodboards or image collections. The simplest way is to simply collect together images you find on the web download them to a folder on your machine and then pull them all in to a program like iphoto so you can view them all at once (a bit like a moodboard). If you prefer you could alternatively drop the images into layout design software, or if you are using an iPhone or ipad use an app like the aptly named Moodboard.

ipadd app moodboard

Still stuck?

Try out some of these other creative exercises

See Also

Logo Design Tutorial 1
Logo Design Tutorial 2

learn logo design online

Make Design Business Dreams Come True – Set Goals

A Guest Post by Mhairi Gordon-Preston from Suit Free Business Help For Design Companies

Business dreams are fantastic; they can fire-up your enthusiasm and make the planning and work feel worthwhile. What’s even better than business dreams? Watching them become your reality.

Studies show that setting precise business goals makes business dreams a lot more likely to become real. That’s because the right goals keep your drive high, focus your mind, and get your creativity flowing.

1 “Begin with the end in mind” (Stephen R Covey, author & speaker)

What changes would you like in your design business? Examples could be “I want clients who really get my style” or “I want to earn an additional £800 a month”.

Note down your answers to the question — don’t analyse them, just let them flow out.

2 Highlight one answer that feels like it would have the biggest impact on your business at this moment

(There may be lots of things you want to do, that’s wonderful — remember you can always come back to this process as soon as your first goal is finished, or on-track.)

3 Make your goal do-able, but exciting

Don’t underestimate yourself with a half-hearted wish like “It would be nice to have one new client by March next year”; you have more talent than that in your little finger! Your goal should be something you’d go for when you’re on a high or having a good day — it should stretch you a little.

4 Get into the nitty-gritty

Make your goal specific, an example could be: “I want four new clients, giving me work totalling £600 per month, by 9am, eight weeks from today”.

Don’t be tempted into fuzzy phrases like “I need more clients”. Put actual dates & numbers in, even if it feels challenging. Dates & numbers will really increase the chances of your goal becoming reality. And remember: “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars.” (Les Brown, speaker & author).

5 Finally, “Ink it, don’t think it” (Mark Victor Hansen, business coach & entrepreneur)

Write your goal down; perhaps turning it into a desktop background, design or collage. Whatever format you use, make sure you place it where you can see it every day in your work area.

For an extra boost, put a credit-card sized version in your purse or wallet. Studies show that, funny though it sounds, carrying your goal on you really increases the chances of it becoming reality.

I look forward to your achievements — do feel free to share your success stories with me.

Mhairi Gordon-PrestonI’m Mhairi Gordon-Preston and I help design business-owners & freelancers become more profitable and more fulfilled. Get monthly tips from me, plus a gift ecourse at I worked as a designer for 10 years, have run my own businesses for 10 years and am an Enterprise Champion in my local town, helping small businesses connect with each other

Want to Learn a Traditional Craft and Be on TV?

I was sent an email regarding a tv company who are making a tv series about traditional crafts. They are looking for people who would be interested in learning a new craft to take part. As many readers are art and design people I thought it might be something you would be interested in. Their press release and contact details are shown below.

TV Production company RICOCHET are making a new 6 part series on traditional and contemporary crafts for a major broadcaster this summer. The series will feature episodes on six different types of craft; Greenwood, Thatching, Stonemasonry, Weaving, Stained Glass and Metal Work.
RICOCHET have enlisted some of the UK’s top Mastercraftsmen from a variety of disciplines who will each mentor 3 eager trainees on an intensive training course. If you’re interested and passionate about learning the traditional skills of the blacksmith, have a passion for wood or any of the other skills listed above then contact the Mastercrafts team at RICOCHET on 01273 224 800 or email

RICOCHET are the makers of factual and documentary programming for all the major broadcasters both in the UK and US. They have produced series such as “No Going Back”, “Supernanny” and “Born To Be Different”. More recent work includes the Bafta nominated ‘Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts’ for BBC3 and ‘The Real Swiss Family Robinson’ for BBC1.

Photoshop Video Tutorials to Help You Learn

Photoshop has to be one of the hardest of the graphic design programs to get a grip of. I remember thinking I would never understand it when I first started. There are just lots of different ways to accomplish the same thing with photoshop, I know personally I have only scratched the surface of what it is capable of. Jennifer over at Laughing Lion Design has created some video photoshop tutorials which are worth taking a look at to improve your photoshop knowledge.

photoshop design video tutorials

There are loads of other photoshop tutorials out there if you need them too, take a look at Tutorialized which lists 9082 photoshop tutorials, that should keep you busy for a while 🙂 .

Adobe also have their own video tutorials in all their products including photoshop at