Gradvice: The Do’s and Don’ts When Contacting Design Agencies

Following on from our first Gradvice piece – Advice from the FD team on how to land your first job – for our second instalment we have collated a useful list of items that we would encourage, and discourage, when contacting design agencies.

First up…

The Do’s

☺ Find the name of someone appropriate within the company to address your email/mailout to

A personalised email is evidence that you’ve done research into the agency you’re contacting. ‘To the Creative Director,’ won’t fly here.

☺ Be personable and judge the crowd

We understand that you want to come across professional but there’s no harm in injecting a little personality!

☺ Read job application descriptions carefully

Agencies may add little details within application requirements to see if you’ve been paying attention.

☺ Be short and succinct

Make it easy for agencies to digest your email, less is more in this instance. A short cover letter and PDF folio – mwah! – everything they need without even leaving their inbox.

☺ Proof-read what you’ve written

Not just for spelling mistakes. It’s easy to get complacent when sending multi emails – next thing you know you’ve hit send on an email with the name of the previous person’s details in… Uh oh!

☺ Be patient and understanding

You won’t always receive a response but this doesn’t mean that your email has been ignored or gone unnoticed. Emails can often be filed or bookmarked for future reference. The agency you’ve contacted may not be looking to hire/have any appropriate projects at that time.

The Don’ts

☹ Don’t send the same email to multiple emails, within the same agency

More often than not, the same person will be managing generic inboxes like hello@ or work@. One email at one time is definitely enough. It will be noticed but maybe not for the right reasons.

☹ Definitely don’t send the same email to multiple agencies

To: ‘undisclosed recipients’ or ‘Hello there’ is often the tell-tale sign…

☹ Don’t send your portfolio or CV as an editable .indd, .doc or .pages file

You’d be surprised at the amount of CVs and portfolios we’ve received as editable files. We shouldn’t have to explain why we don’t recommend this.

(FYI, we would consider a low res PDF a suitable file format).

☹ Don’t underestimate the power of mail-outs 📮

We can’t speak for all agencies but we love a bit of post. Instead of sitting in an inbox alongside hundreds of other emails, mail-outs bring your work into the real world.

Our favourite mail-outs always stick around, they get shared around the studio and become a real talking point – they make an impression.

Design something bitesize that will entice the studio to find out more about you and your work and remember to include contact details!

You may not get an immediate response but think of mail-outs as a slow burner. You never know, it may come back to help you in the future when you’re you applying for a job or bump into them at a design talk.


We hope you’ve found our advice piece on ‘The Do’s and Don’ts When Contacting Design Agencies’ useful. Stay tuned for the final instalment of #Gradvice in the coming weeks! 🎓

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