Category Archives: How To

Job Interview Feedback

There are many “sorry” emails sent out for every one “congratulations” email after a round of job interviews. If you get one of the “sorry” emails, wouldn’t you want to know why? Perhaps it is poor form to ask why, but the feedback – if you get it – can be priceless. So write a polite reply, thank them for the opportunity to attend an interview and invite their feedback/suggestions for improving your future job applications. You may just get a goldmine of information back.

Here are some basic interview pointers, collected from my notes made during interviews:

1. An experienced interviewer can tell when you are simply giving answers that you think they want to hear. That’s very, very bad as it reflects on your honesty. For example, if I ask you where you see yourself five years from now, “right here” is the wrong answer unless you can convince me.

2. I love asking people what they consider to be their own worst attribute. It’s a trick question that tests honesty. Most candidates fall over this one with an answer like “I’m a perfectionist” or “I am a workaholic”. Wrong answer. Those are positives. That is not what the interviewer wants. Come up with a true negative. Honesty outweighs everything else in an interview.

3. Tell yourself that you will get this job if it’s the right job for you. Then relax. Treat the interview like a friendly discussion. If you are super nervous it is very hard for the interviewer to connect with you and see a potential co-worker behind the wall of nerves. If you appear desperate, that also raises questions.

4. Do not interrupt the interviewer. Seems obvious, doesn’t it? In my experience, about one in four candidates will answer before I finish the question – and sometimes end up answering the wrong question. In the workplace this habit will likely lead to misunderstandings and frustration. No thanks.

5. If you’ve had a bad experience with a previous employer, that is something you want to handle delicately. Every story has two sides. If you tell me that your previous boss was an inflexible and unreasonable troll, I have to wonder what she would say about you. After all, no employer would be mean to their superstar employee. If she was hard on you, I have to assume that you probably deserved some of it.

6. Read up about the company beforehand and prepare a few questions of your own. Trust me, this will lift you head and shoulders above 90% of the other candidates.

Bottom line:
You were invited to the interview, so you already have a thumbs-up from the company. Relax and go have an honest and open chat with the interviewer. That’s usually all it takes to land the job.

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Logo Colors

When clients ask us to match the colors in their logo design to colors on their web site it usually points to a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of color in branding.

It’s not about colors that look nice. It’s certainly not about taste. Color is an integral part of the message of your logo and brand. It pays to do the research and get a basic understanding of colors and their meaning before you go any further.

You must also consider the impact of your colors on the distinctness of your brand. If every one of your main competitors use blue, using green might be the perfect way to distinguish your brand. Using pink might be even better. My favorite surface cleaner comes in a pale pink bottle. They don’t have a catchy name, but they have this pale pink that makes up for it. Nothing else on the shelf has that color. It’s integral to their brand.

There are no rules here. There might be a good reason why everyone in your industry use blue. The point is, you have to think about, research and understand colors so that your final color choice is an intelligent, considered decision based on factors that will give your business the best chance of success.

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Finding Clients

Online graphic design is becoming ridiculously competitive. Those who go out in search of clients have an uphill battle, trying to sell something that can probably be bought much cheaper elsewhere.

So stop trying to find clients. I think the future – in any online industry – is in giving clients a reason to find you. Not the means. I don’t mean “SEO” or ads or any other online marketing widget. I mean making them go “A-ha!” when they arrive on your site.

How you blow their socks off is the million Dollar question, but don’t focus on the value for money that you offer. That’s the most traveled route and it does not make people go “A-ha!”. It makes them go “Hm, not bad. I wonder if I can get this even cheaper.”

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Note To Self

Working on low-level tasks is a drain on your energy and enthusiasm. It also impacts your confidence to take on high-level tasks. Admit it: At times when you are working in your business rather than on it, you are miserable and unmotivated. Insist on delegating every single task that someone can be trained to do. Even those crucial tasks that need to be done really well. There are wonderful, talented people out there who would love the opportunity.

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Logo Production

It is relatively easy to talk about logos, to look at logos, to evaluate logos and to criticize. Creating logos is harder. It takes more time, skill, blood and sweat than any other logo-related activity. That’s why there is money in logo design once you decide to put your back into it.

Edit:
Re-reading this after posting, I realized that I’m not making my point clear. A designer asked me for a job the other day. I’m not hiring, so I directed her to places online where designers can sell logos and I advised her to upload 10 good logos a day for the next 6 months. Every day. That will take her to about 1,800 logos for sale. By then she will be making more money from logo sales than the best salary I could offer her. The only question is: Can you create and upload 10 good logos a day, every day, for 6 months?

Stop looking for work, logo designer. There is plenty for those willing to really work.

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Count on Change

I was on the Google forum again. Many webmasters there complain about lost search engine rankings. Sometimes I’m one of them. But we need to remember that we are talking about Internet business here, with the emphasis on “Internet”. It changes. New competitors and new spam techniques pop up like daisies and search engine algorithms need to keep pace.

So do we.

Option 1:
Try to keep up with SEO “wisdom”. Good luck with that.

Option 2:
Focus on long-term. Build something of value that puts you head and shoulders above whoever is #2.

The key here is “head and shoulders”. If you are not the clear leader in your field, narrow your field. On the Internet you can do that. Pick a discipline within your field and specialize. Be the obvious #1 in that niche. Pick with your heart and the money will follow.

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Before You Build Your Logo Site

I truly feel for the masses of logo designers who try to sell logos online. You can see the enormous amount of time that each (well, most) invested in building their logo design sites. Months of building and rebuilding and refining – for what? For a site that won’t work.

Before you build your logo design site, look through existing logo design sites. There are thousands. Look at their depressing Alexa rank too. My estimate, based on the Alexa numbers, is that most of those sites attract between 30 and 100 visitors per day (Alexa rank 1,000,000+), which probably translates to 2 or 3 sales per month.

If you are serious about selling logos online, you will need a plan. You need to get people on your site. If you don’t have a plan yet, sell your logos at LogoGround until you do. Put up a basic one-pager site in the meantime, but don’t spend months building an awesome web site that no-one will visit.

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Failure Guaranteed

I was on a relatively new online banking site today, trying to pay someone. It took me 2 minutes to figure out how. I’ve paid him before, but this time clicking on “payments” and then on his name took me to a page that allowed me to edit his details.

Why?

I’m sure it makes sense to the developer though. Once she explained it to management they probably thought it made sense too. But she’s not here now. Who is going to explain it to the user?

This is a large, national bank. They can get away with it. It hurts them, but they are big enough to not really feel it. You and I can not get away with making clients struggle for 2 minutes to pay us. If we make it that hard for people to buy from us, they simply won’t. No matter how brilliant your product or service is, if no-one but you can find the order button your failure is guaranteed.

You have 10 seconds at most. Give her a big “Pay Now” button above the fold then get out of her way.

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Productive Meetings

I personally like meetings. I like having structured, productive discussions with clients – or employees or my kids for that matter.

Whether you like meetings or not, make sure that you know why you are having a meeting. Not about what, but why.

We don’t always have the time to prepare for meetings, but take 1 minute before the meeting to identify what you want to achieve in that meeting. That will help you focus, which makes you appear considerably better prepared than you are. Chances are that you will start enjoying meetings when you see them as an opportunity to achieve a specific outcome. Even if it’s not your meeting – if you’re just invited to sit in – what can you achieve? What will happen if you takes sides with a colleague who does not expect support from you? Can you use a mundane meeting to gain an ally? Can you use it to diffuse tension? Can you use it to earn trust?

A word of caution though: If it’s not your meeting, don’t be so determined to achieve your outcome that you derail the organizer’s outcome in the process.

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