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How to be Hireable as a Motion Designer

By Sara Wade

Want to get hired as a Motion Designer? Here's a few tips for landing your next Motion Design job.

Finding work can be stressful. Resumes, demo reels, interviews, phone calls, social media, and networking. It’s a lot to worry about. However, With a little prep, your search for work can be a (somewhat) smooth and painless process.
In honor of our brand new Motion Design jobs board we thought it'd be fun to share a few tips to help you land your next Motion Design gig. While there is certainly no formula for landing your dream job, there are a lot things you can do to maximize your chance of landing a great job. Let's begin...
Andrea Schmitz Reel

1. Create a Killer Demo Reel

The first rule of landing a Motion Design job is you have to put up a killer demo reel. Keep your reel short and sweet. The reality is, most people who are looking for Motion Designers are pressed for time. They won’t spend more than a few seconds looking at your reel so put your very best work first. You want to catch their attention before they move on to the next Motion Designer.
TwistedPoly Reel
For more great show reels, check out this curated Vimeo page.

2. Show Your Process

This is a way to make your work stand out from the crowd. Show not just what you do, but how you do it. Pick a project or two and make a case study page for your website. Mitch Meyers' site is a great place to go for case-study inspiration.
Show the steps that you took to arrive at that final awesome video. Show your style frames, storyboards and detail work. Write a bit about your process. Show potential clients and employers that you didn’t just stumble on to good work by accident. Show them a clear, professional, repeatable process.
For more tips on making your portfolio website, check out this article.
Mitch Meyers Site.png
A case study from Mitch Meyers.

3. Share your Experience

People are people and everyone is more trusting of someone they know. If they don’t know you, they want to feel like someone they trust knows you. If you are going for a gig, share similar past experiences with other clients or companies.
If I work at ABC Sprockets and I see that Groovy Gears Inc. hired you last year for a project, I’m much more likely to trust you, even if I never met you. If you have some well known clients, feature them to build trust.
Big Client Logos

4. Seek Out and Learn from Constructive Criticism

Clients and creative directors are going to have opinions about your work. They will ask you make changes, adjust things, and perhaps even change directions entirely. This kind of criticism can be hard to take but if you want to be the Motion Designer who gets hired, you need to take it with grace.
Eagerly seek feedback and happily adjust your work to match the client’s vision. After all, it’s their baby, not yours. If you want to be better at giving and receiving critiques, check out this AIGA article.

5. Be a Collaborator

Everyone wants to work with people who are easy to work with. If you want to be hired to be on the team, you had better be a team player. No one wants to hire the motion designer who will keep to themselves, not communicate with the team, and complain about everything.
Don’t be the negative nelly in the room. Be the happy person who is excited about the work and the possibilities of the project. Be the one who is eager to hear other people’s ideas. Truly believe that two or three or four heads are better than one. Be the person you want to work with.

6. Be Eager to Learn

In Motion Design, change is constant. Software changes. Styles change. Work flows change. Technology changes. If you want to keep up with this ever changing industry, you need to be a lifelong learner.
Seek out new knowledge. Improve your skills. Take classes. Do personal projects. Don't know where to start? We have some pretty killer bootcamps here at School of Motion.
Work hard to get better at what you do. A wise and famous animator once told me, the day you stop learning, is the day you get left behind.

7. Take Responsibility

This is a tough one but it’s one of those character building things your grandparents probably told you about when you were too young to “get it.” Mistakes happen. When they happen because of you, take responsibility.
Failure is a learning opportunity. When something goes badly, take the time to reflect on it. What could have been done differently? How could the debacle have been prevented? What could you have done to make things go more smoothly for everyone involved?
You can bet that you will be asked about past failures or challenges in just about every interview you ever have. If you have already taken responsibility and learned from past mistakes, you can show potential employers that you can be counted on to take responsibility in the future, no matter what comes your way.

8. Be a Proactive Problem Solver

You know what every creative director hates? The person who has to be told what to do every step of the way. You know what every creative director loves? You guessed it… the proactive problem solver.
If you see a potential problem coming, take the steps now to prevent it or solve it. Anticipate. Take action. Be the person everyone can count on.

9. Love What You Do

This is probably an easy one for most of us in the Motion Design business. If this isn’t the case for you right now, take some time to think about why that is.
Are you not loving the style you have been working in? Do a personal project in a style you love. Not loving your 3D software package? Learn a new one and see if it’s a better fit.
Maybe you’re just burned out. It happens to all of us. If that’s the case, find a way to get your mojo back. Go see a kick ass animated film. Spend 30 minutes on Wine After Coffee or Motionographer finding things that excite you. Better yet, read one of the many articles on the School of Motion blog dedicated to inspiration.
Get away from your desk and go to a museum. People watch in a coffee shop. Draw the people in the coffee shop. Watch animals locomote at the zoo. Whatever it takes, you need to rekindle your love for the game or find a new game.

10. Communicate Clearly

If I had to pick one quality that is most important on every job I have ever worked on, it’s communication. Learn to communicate well visually, verbally, in writing. The better you can communicate your ideas, the more hire-able you will be.

11. Don’t be a Prima Donna!

No one wants to work with the person who thinks they are the best Motion Design in the world and won’t hear anything else about it.
I have been lucky enough to meet and work with some of the best character animators on the planet. You know what they all had in common? None of them would tell you that they were the best animators on the planet. Rather, they would tell you about the amazing work that others were doing and how much they respected other people on their teams.
If you think you are the best and stop learning from others, you will stop improving and very quickly be surpassed. Be humble. Lose the ego. It’s something that all the truly great animators have in common.
Now Go Land that Gig!
Hopefully you've found this post to be helpful. With a lot of practice, patience, and Red Bull you'll become a killer Motion Designer. Once you're ready to land your next Motion Design gig check out the Jobs Board here at School of Motion. It's an easy way to find and apply for your next MoGraph job.