The dos & don’ts of pitching yourself to a web designer
One of the phenomenona that comes with running your own web design firm is frequent inquiries from both wannabe and experienced web designers and programmers.
I love to help out folks getting started in the industry – I always appreciated it myself when I transitioned from working in film and TV production to the web sphere – but it always startles me how many people are completely clueless about the best way to approach me when they’re looking for work. I’m not alone; colleagues complain about the same pitching missteps.
Here are some practical dos & don’ts:
Don’t send me email attachments – especially when my contact page specifically begs you not to. I don’t need a 5-page PDF of your curriculum vitae, listing a chronology of your work & education; I want to see what you can do.
Do send a link to your online portfolio in the body of your message. If you’re pitching yourself as a web designer, I want to see a minimum of 5 sites you’ve worked on – ideally more – with a clear description of your role in each project. They don’t all have to be live, archived on your portfolio site is fine. (You do have your own domain and online portfolio site, right?)
Don’t call me out of the blue and not ask if I have a moment before launching into a soliloquy so fast and loud that I have to hold the phone away from my ear so I don’t damage my hearing. (Yes, this has actually happened.) The work that web designers and developers do requires focus and concentration. If you’d like to have a phone chat, tell me why in a quick email, and we can schedule a call in advance to make sure I can give you all my attention.
Do have a few people carefully proofread your cover letter before sending it. If you can’t be bothered to spell correctly and use proper punctuation, I assume you’ll be as sloppy with your coding. This is an excerpt from an actual letter I received recently:
After a stint as a pratice lawyer in insurance litigation, I decided to move on and redirect my career in a more creative, dynamic and technological fiel of study.
I’m creative, inventive. I’m also a perfectionnist, with a great sens of job well done. I am very approachable and I have a great listening sense.
I excel in writing, in both English and French.
Don’t write a generic-sounding letter. Address me by name – it’s clearly on my website, take the extra three seconds to find it. Refer to something specific about my company that explains why you want to work with me. Doing these two things alone will make you stand out among the 100 others who’ve sent me job inquiries.
Do tell me what you’re passionate about. Are you a WordPress fanatic? Enthused about e-commerce? Driven by design? Let that excitement shine through your words.
Don’t write a novel. Be brief and get to the point: what specific role are you looking for and what makes you suitable? Do I even need your services? Check out my work first – pitching me your ASP.NET database programming skills wastes both of our time.
Do get to know me first, before even sending that first intro email. Twitter is a fantastic way to get a sense of whether we’re on the same wavelength, which is essential for harmonious collaborations. Start a conversation and see if we click. If you get fed up with my tweets about cats & food and decide you’d rather work with a World of Warcraft enthusiast, I promise I won’t be offended.