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"I had an office job in the Army. Now I run a press in the web department. It's a different life - color, ink, paper, registration. But I worked my way up with training. Now they come to me when there's a problem, because everyone knows I do the job right.
Oscar Urrego,
Press Operator

Plan Your Job Search
Just starting your search for a job in graphic communications? Whether you're fresh out of high school or completing a college degree, this five step plan can help make your job search a success.

1. Create a Great First Impression
When you apply for a job, you usually send the potential employer a cover letter that explains your interest in the position and a resumé that outlines your experience and qualifications. For some jobs, you'll also need a portfolio that shows samples of your work. Together, these documents create the first impression an employer will have of you, so it is important to prepare them carefully. Here are some online resources that can help you create a great first impression.
Your Cover Letter 
A cover letter tells the employer which job you are applying for, why you are interested in the job, and why you think you would be good at it. A great cover letter gives a glimpse of your personality as well. This is your chance to stand out as the kind of person the employer would like to interview. These online resources can show you how.
  • Cover Letters
    An easy recipe for a three-paragraph cover letter from the Career Planning Office at St. Edward's University.
Your Resumé 
A resumé (rez-oo-may) summarizes your experience, education, and accomplishments. It lists all the places you've worked in chronological order, with descriptions of your responsibilities and successes. It also lists the schools you've attended and any other notable achievements. A good resumé shows the employer that you're ready for the job and the right person to interview. With these online resources, your resumé can show even more.
  • Resumé Strategies
    In-depth advice for beginning job-seekers from the Career Planning Office at St. Edward's University.
  • Creating Your Resumé
    Step-by-step directions from the Career Action Center at Edmond's Community College.
Your Portfolio 
A portfolio is a collection of artwork that demonstrates your skills and talents.You will probably need a portfolio if you plan on a career as a designer, illustrator, photographer, or digital imaging specialist. Your portfolio should cover the full range of your abilities, with examples of your most creative design solutions. But remember, a portfolio doesn't speak for itself. You'll be expected to present your portfolio and talk about your work. With help from these online resources, you'll have plenty to say.
  • Portfolio Series
    Rachel Goldstein explains how to put together and present both online and offline portfolios at
  • Portfolio Tips
    A checklist of do's and don'ts from Update Graphics, specialists in graphic communications job placement.
  • Presenting Your Portfolio
    A design firm veteran explains what he's looking for in a job candidate's portfolio (courtesy of the American Institute of Graphic Arts).

2. Start Looking for Opportunities
Searching for a graphic communications job can be daunting, but there are many resources to help you find out what's available and make contact with a potential employer. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
Want Ads 
This is often the first place job-hunters look. In most newspapers you can find graphic communications jobs listed under many different headings. Check graphic design, marketing, media, printing, production, publishing, and sales. To broaden your search, scan the want ads in newspapers published in surrounding communities (usually available at your local public library) and those posted on newspaper web sites.
It's always smart to talk with family members and friends about your job search. Even if they don't work in the graphic communications industry, they are very likely to be graphic communications customers. Ask for an introduction to the people who produce their advertising, announcements, annual reports, business forms, business cards, or company web site. You could find yourself talking to a future employer.
Phone Directories 
The Yellow Pages and other business directories can help you locate potential employers. For graphic communications companies, check these headings: graphic arts, computer graphics, books-publishing & printing, commercial printing, inks-printing & lithographic, newspaper publishing & printing, periodicals-publishing & printing, printers, printing, printing equipment, printing ink, printing suppliers, screen printing, screen printing equipment & supplies, textile printing equipment & supplies. Don't forget to check online phone directories as well, especially to find companies outside your immediate area.
State Employment Office 
Many employers list openings with the state employment office. You can also turn here for advice on job hunting strategies.
Internet Search Tools 
There are many online resources designed to match job hunters with potential employers. Click here for links to some of the best Internet search tools for getting a job in graphic communications.
Online Resumés 
In addition to searching for a job, you can help potential employers find you by posting your resumé online. For graphic communications jobs, consider posting your resumé on GRAPHIC COMM CENTRAL, a free service supported by the Graphic Arts Education and Research Foundation. Resumés remain online for three months, or until you request it be removed from the web site. But remember: it always makes a better impression to mail your resume directly to a potential employer or deliver it in person.

3. Prepare for Your Interview
Before you're hired, most employers will want to meet you and ask a few questions. This is the dreaded interview! Here are some resources to help you make it a showcase for your personality and talents.
  • Employability Skills
    A slide presentation from the Oakland Technical Center Southeast Campus that covers all aspects of job hunting in the graphic communications industry, with a special section on interview skills. Available at GRAPHIC COMM CENTRAL.
  • Interview Quiz
    This 10-minute quiz from the UCLA Career Center can help you find out where you shine and where you might need an interview makeover.

4. Don't Forget to Follow Up
It's smart to send a thank you letter after you've had an interview. Although you're focused on the job opening, the person doing the hiring probably has a long list of other things to worry about. A thank you letter or follow-up phone call can help you move to the top of that to-do list. And it shows good manners, too.

5. You've Got the Job!
Congratulations! You're hired! Before you accept the job, however, you might want to check that you're being offered a salary that's appropriate for the position and your geographic area. Here's a good place to start.
  • Graphic Arts Salary Survey
    Published annually by Graphic Arts Monthly, this survey shows who earns what across 27 job categories in the graphic communications industry.




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