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Ask Lawrence: When can I call myself a Senior Designer?

13 Dec 11:00 By Lawrence Akers

Lawrence Akers Senior Designer

As with many industries out there, ‘moving up the ranks’ is an important part of career development.

The title of Senior often implies creative control; being the conceptual creative and coming up with the big ideas.

When it is appropriate to call yourself a Senior Designer though?

While many creatives may place it down to the length of time in the industry, we’ve seen some CV’s over time that have had someone going from being a Junior Graphic Designer to a Senior Graphic Designer within one job jump. Clearly that can’t be right?

Let’s take a moment to explore what criteria you should really be ticking in order to wear that Senior Graphic Designer title authentically.

Time in the industry

While how long you’ve been in the industry will play some part, it should not be the determining factor as to whether or not you’ve transitioned from a Mid-weight Graphic Designer to a Senior Graphic Designer.

I’m going to be blunt here; if I see one more CV that uses the line ‘with over 10 years industry experience’ as being the key selling point, I will scream. Everyone is doing it and, ultimately, it means nothing. I’ve seen people stay in one position for 10 years who have not had the exposure or opportunity to develop their skills in a way that a Senior Graphic Designer requires. I’ve seen others who may have been freelancing for 10 years however the level of design is still not at a competitive level with others who are perhaps just more talented.

Quality of the work

Without stating the obvious, does your folio have ‘wow’ factor. As you show your folio, do you see eyes opening widely with pleasure or glazing over with another example of design they’ve seen before. Your folio is meant to showcase just how amazing you actually are so you need to ensure you put in those pieces that make people realise you’re a designer who has that rare gift of producing work that is both practical and beautifully designed.

Is there a strategic thought process in the creation of the design that answers the problems that the client has presented in their brief? If you’ve designed a brand mark, what has been the conceptual process and how do you envisage it being rolled out across the medium so that it connects with the audience in a meaningful way?

A Senior Designer will have thoughts about all these things (and more) and know where they’re taking that creative.

Your involvement in the work

Senior Designers are often far more conceptual; what did you do with this piece? If you’ve worked in a team, did you take a design and roll it out or did you come up with the initial designs and have them passed down to others to complete? Senior Designers will often oversee a small team as well; what experience do you have in leading teams, sharing your vision and getting everyone on the same page.

Number of projects and specialisation

Have you worked across a range of clients and projects over the course of your career? Do you have a specialisation in a particular niche area?
Unfortunately, there is just no way to come up with a one-size-fits-all test to determine if someone is a Midweight or a Senior. It will always be a combination of factors, which include other people’s subjective opinions, as well as the context into which you’re going; for instance, most people would agree that a Senior Graphic Designer within an in house context is generally going to be vastly different to a Senior Graphic Designer in a design studio context.

Ultimately, we also need to look internally and consider why it is that such a ‘title’ is so important to us; what do you hope to get out of it by having this title? Is it recognition and validation? Is it financial? These can all be achieved without necessarily adding a Senior to the front of your title. Having a clear idea as to why this is so important to us will help to determine what you can do to make your career more meaningful and rewarding for you.

Of course, if you have any thoughts, questions or simply would like to get in touch with me and offer up a topic for the next Ask Lawrence, you can contact me at or you can find me and connect with me on LinkedIn. You can check out more jobs by going to our website or you can search for them on Twitter via #CRJOBS.

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