What Job Title Do You Call Yourself?
In the creative industry, titles are more than just labels. They convey your experience, your expertise, and sometimes, even your aspirations. They can also be a make or break in terms of if you secure the job or not. But with the plethora of titles available today, how do you choose the one that best represents you? While this article is high level, it aims to address some of the more common questions and help you determine the most accurate, honest, and beneficial title for you.
Determining The Best Job Title
Determining the best job title to call yourself requires a blend of introspection and market research. Start by assessing your core skills, expertise, and the value you bring to projects. Reflect on the tasks you excel at and the responsibilities you've shouldered in past roles. Then, research industry standards and see how professionals with similar skills label themselves.
Browse platforms like LinkedIn or industry-specific job boards to gauge the prevalent titles. It's also beneficial to seek feedback from peers, mentors, or industry groups.
Ultimately, your chosen title should be an authentic representation of your capabilities, resonate with potential clients or employers, and align with industry norms. Remember, a job title isn't just a label; it's a powerful tool that communicates your professional identity.
Understanding the Ladder: Graduate to Senior Graphic Designer
One of the biggest debates that can rage in the visual creative world is the ‘weighting’ around Graphic Designers. Let’s start with this one as it can help to determine when you’ve had the necessary skills to fully qualify for that job title.
Graduate Graphic Designer: Fresh out of college, a graduate graphic designer is brimming with theoretical knowledge but might lack the practical experience. They're eager to learn, adapt, and grow. If you're a graduate, it's essential to showcase your passion and potential, even if your portfolio isn't vast.
Junior Graphic Designer: With a year or two under their belt, junior designers have some real-world experience. They've worked on projects, faced challenges, and have started to hone their style. Juniors are still in the learning phase but are more independent than graduates. During this period, solid mentoring is absolutely vital in developing not only their skills, but career direction.
Mid-weight Graphic Designer: A mid-weight designer is the bridge between junior and senior. With several years of experience, they're confident in their skills and can manage projects with minimal supervision. They might even mentor junior designers, sharing their expertise and insights.
Senior Graphic Designer: The veterans of the design world, senior designers, have extensive experience and a portfolio to match. They lead projects, make significant design decisions, and often have a say in the creative direction of a project. They’ll often be a conceptually driven creative, offering the vision as to where the work is going. They’ll generally also have a team of creatives that they’re filtering the work down to. If you're a senior, your title reflects your authority and expertise in the field.
It is important to note at this point that length of time in the industry is NOT an indication of what level of designer you are. I’ve seen people who have been in the industry for 20 years and who have a quality of work that, at best, would be mid-weight. I’ve also seen some juniors that are displaying incredible conceptual ideation and who are on the path to become brilliant designers.
Graphic Designer vs Finished Artist
If you're open to finished art work, it is also important to ensure that you refer to yourself as a finished artist. While it is true that Graphic Designers have the ability to take their work through to finish, and that many Finished Artists have an eye for graphic design, some clients will automatically reject Graphic Designers if their requirement is a Finished Artist.
Often having a title such as 'Graphic Designer/Finished Artist' can help to work around this, or to at least ensure that you have that you took your work through to Finished Art in your description to ensure that you can be found.
The 'Founder' or 'Owner' Dilemma on LinkedIn
Is the title of 'founder' or 'owner' on LinkedIn making you lose out on potential freelance gigs? There's a possibility. While these titles showcase your entrepreneurial spirit, they might not immediately convey your primary skill set.
In my years of working in recruitment, not once has someone being an owner of their own business come into discussion when I’ve been asked to find a suitable creative. Often it can be a reflection of someone’s ego, although it is important to recognise that we should approach our profiles on LinkedIn in much the same way we would approach any form of SEO.
For instance, if you label yourself as an 'owner' of a design studio, potential clients might not instantly recognise your expertise as a graphic designer. They might perceive you more as a businessperson than a creative professional. It's essential to strike a balance. Consider using titles like "Founder & Lead Graphic Designer" or "Owner, Senior Illustrator." This way, you highlight both your entrepreneurial journey and your primary skill set.
The Digital Designer Conundrum
In today's digital age, many designers label themselves as 'digital designers.' But what if you have print design experience too? Is this title limiting your opportunities?
The answer is, it might. While the digital realm is vast and offers numerous opportunities, print isn't dead. Many clients still value print design, be it for brochures, business cards, or posters. By labelling yourself solely as a digital designer, you might inadvertently be sidelining a segment of potential clients who are looking for print design expertise.
So, what's the solution? Be specific and inclusive. If you have experience in both digital and print, use titles like "Graphic Designer - Digital & Print" or "Visual Designer with Print Expertise." This way, you're not boxing yourself into a niche and are showcasing the full range of your skills.
Finding the Right Title For You
Your job title is a reflection of your skills, experience, and the value you bring to the table. While it's tempting to use fancy titles or follow trends, it's crucial to choose a title that genuinely represents your expertise and resonates with potential clients. After all, in the creative world, authenticity always shines the brightest.