Hi, have you met Alexander?

Here’s just a little introduction so we can get to know Alexander.

Alexander Younger

A week ago we had the pleasure of meeting Alexander Younger. He is the president and CEO of designlab located in Toronto, Ontario. Alexander came with a lot of great advice about finding the right job, but I’d like to tell you a little bit about his background first.

Alexander started designlab 23 years ago. Designlab specializes in digital collateral, and over the years Alexander and his company have worked with a lot of clients, to list a few: Loblaw’s, The Beer Store, Diamond Aircraft, RBC, Laura Secord, Revera, PC Financial, Chesnt Park, Mark Lash.  He said that designlab likes to take on a variety of clients so that they can learn and take from their experiences with one client and apply it to another. His experience working in the design world it gives him a lot of insight what works and what doesn’t during the hiring process.

A really cool fact about design lab is that they are very “green”, and they installed a big solar roof that powers all of their servers – that’s pretty awesome!

After Alexander introduced himself and talked a little bit about his company and how they work he went on to tell us some very useful and insightful information about finding the right job.

“You’re only as good as your name.” – Alexander Younger


Here’s some of his advice about finding that right fit.

Research, research, research.

You’re (hopefully) going to work at your new job for an extended period of time. So, take the time to research the companies you’re interested in thoroughly.

  1. Start with a short list of places you want to work and write down your reason why.
  2. Ask your peers what they think/heard of these companies.
  3. Make sure that what the company does is what you want to do, in the end this will make fitting in at the company much easier.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in the interview, not asking the interviewer questions could worry them in the long run. Asking questions shows that you are willing to discuss ideas and collaborate.

The most important point to finding the right fit is to know about the company you’re interviewing for. Showing the interviewer that you know a little obscure thing from their website or how you really liked a particular piece they created will go along way. It proves your interest and helps the interviewer imagine your fit within their company.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty with those 3 big things you need to get a job.

1.    Your cover letter.

  • Make sure it’s short and sweet.
  • Give the reader a reason to like you (hint: you know about their company, so throw in some information specific to that.).
  • Be memorable, but in the right ways.
  • Send something unique (pointing out what you love about their projects for instance).
  • Most importantly be who you are in your cover letter – let your personality shine.

2.    Resume

  • Articulated things that really resonate with you; speak to your Sheridan experience; what you like, etc.
  • Tell the reader about your experience (this is a scary thought, especially right out of school. But just be straight about you answer, if no experience tell them that but make sure you highlight your skills).
  • To further the above point, make sure you are honest about your skills. Don’t lie or embellish, it will be better for both parties if you tell the truth.
  • Make sure the look of your resume is designed nicely, but don’t over design – sometimes simple is best.

3.   Portfolio

  • Make it nice,
    • Showcase your breadth of skills/experience.
    • Include your process work, this shows the employer your thought process from the start of the process to the end.
    • Don’t be afraid to show unfinished work,  explain what you’re trying to achieve with your unfinished piece.
  • Keep it clean, and professional – like it was said before with your resume sometimes simple is best.

Here’s some things you should be cautious about when looking and interviewing for the job. With the way things are now in 2015 our personal brand is something we really need to think about. With the existence of social media our employers have a chance to search our online presence (which they definitely do) to find out more about us before we even meet, so keep your online presence light.

Beware of your Facebook presence like the types of posts you make and pictures you post or are tagged in.  Make sure they are mostly positive; you don’t want perspective employers to see an in poor taste Facebook rant, or images of you doing drugs.

Social media isn’t all bad though; you could use it to strengthen your brand, by posting about your interests, and positive things.

The next thing you should be prepared for is the interview process. Lets say they liked what they saw on your cover letter and resume, the next step is for the company to contact you about an interview (scary)! Alexander talked a lot about how his company interviews perspective employees. This process could also be like how other companies interview as well. So let’s hear it.

Usually there will be more than one interview, at designlabs it goes a little like this.

  1. The process starts with a phone interview.
    • The phone interview is a great time for the interviewer to listen to how thoughtful you are. It’s  a chance to show that you can listen to and answer their questions, and it’s also a chance for you to ask them to tell you about his firm, or why they thinks you will be a good fit at his firm.
  2. In-person interview.
    • Try to lead the interview with questions ” What is the culture like here?”, “Who do I get to work with?”, “How do you celebrate wins?”, ”How’s the job?”. These questions will help you find out what kind of work place it would be like.
    • Before going to the interview, ask who’s going to be there. This way you can prepare the appropriate questions you can ask questions that apply to the person that is interviewing you to show that you have an interest in them and the company.
    • Go in with your questions written down; Make sure they’re printed and turn them toward your interviewer subtly so that they can see them – it shows them with out telling them that you’ve researched and prepared for this interview.
    • Remember, ask questions about the firm not so much questions just about your self (like “how much money will I make”, “What are the hours like?” etc.) save them for later on in the interviewing process.
  3. Panel Interview.
    • Don’t be afraid of these panel type interviews. They are not trying to trip you up, they just want you to meet the creative team to see if everyone has a good impression of you. Remember they are all people to! Listen to all of their individual questions and thoughtfully answer them back follow your answer with “Does that answer your question?”
  4. Lastly, don’t forget to DRESS TO IMPRESS, first impressions are key, look nice but fit into the culture.

A few other things to watch out for while in the interview process:

  • Don’t chew gum. (Duhh)
  • Don’t wear sunglasses. (You’re not that cool.)
  • Save your funny slogan shirts for after you have the job.
  • Don’t wear heavy scents (There’s no need to take a bath in perfume or cologne before an interview).
  • Don’t forget to use your technology; bring a laptop or tablet to display your work – this shows you’re prepared. One more thing on this if you are bringing your own tech make sure the SCREENS are CLEAN this goes along with the first impressions thing details matter.

Next up, what to do after you’ve interviewed. You’re not quite done after the interview process it always important to follow up with a thank you note. This can just be an email (or snail mail, these days with email you usually just get bills in the real mail, a hand written letter could make your interviewer feel special) make a few more observations about the firm like how you would love to work there.

It’s also good practice to write down more any questions you have after your interview while they are fresh in your mind. Then you can bring them in a follow up interview.

Most importantly NEVER SETTLE, and keep interviewing!

Once we were done talking with Alexander about how to get a job, he opened the floor for some questions, the questions asked by all were great and the answers are super helpful. Here they are below:

Q and A:

Q: How do you answer “What’s your greatest weakness?”

A: This question is hard, it’s designed to trip you up so have a bit of a sense of humour about it and say  “Chocolate”.


Q: Cold calling: good or bad?

A: Be careful about hounding a firm; they probably have no positions and if they have no positions they can’t hire you.


Q: If you looking to hiring someone, do you look within your company first?

A: Alexander spoke specifically about his firm with this answer; yes, but we also like diversity in our employees.


Q: Is keeping people happy important (at designlab)?

A: Yes, we like to keep people in the loop about what’s a happening in the office. We also like to maintain open communication with every one. We want you to tell us if something is bothering you.


Q: What would be the best way to learn about a company’s culture?

A: Ask them to tell you what a typical day is like if they worked there, then hold them to that standard. Also ask them if they can describe the culture of your organization, if they can’t answer that question then you should be a little worried.


Q: How do you ask about a company letting you live your life?

A: Establish a good common ground over few interviews. After the first interview you can ask a question like that but phrase it like this “I don’t have anything planned now, but how would it work if I wanted to take a trip of a life time?”


Q: When should you ask questions of the interviewer?

A: Don’t interrupt (obviously),j just think of it as a conversation. If you have a chance to jump in and ask a question naturally just do it.


Q: How do you feel about references?

A: References from Sheridan are great, professional references are great. Personal references are not so good, if it’s from your mom I know there a little biased. I will call your references but mostly to ask personal questions to get to know you as a person.


Q: Is it appropriate to ask for a tour, when is a good time to do so – during the interview process?

A:  Yes! Wait until the third interview, and mention “I love your space!” and see where that leads you.


Q: Should you design your resume?

A:  You can but, don’t over design; info graphics are great for readability. Be aware of resume trends to keep current. Make sure you include dates even if they’re short. Last but not least don’t forget to put some personality into your resume!


In closing, I have to say Alexander gave us some amazing advice! The best advice in my opinion came at the end and it was “First and foremost be yourself!”.

Now that was an educational talk!

How to get in contact with Alexander

Alexander Younger: President and CEO of designlab

Linkedin: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/hughqelliott

Company Website: http://www.designlab.net/




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