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What to Do When You're in Between Design Jobs

It is not uncommon to be in between jobs

As an interior designer working for yourself, it is not uncommon to be in between jobs. Of course, we'd all like to be successful and have an abundance of projects to simply choose from. However the reality is that sometimes life gets in the way, things change, or you're just starting out and still need to establish a network and client base.

If you prefer not to work for yourself and are in the market for a job with an employer, you also might find it sometimes takes a while to find the right opportunity. Resume gaps are not unusual, so pay attention to how you spend your time between jobs. Potential employers want to know how job candidates spent their time when they were out of work. Learning? Travelling? Moping? Unless you demonstrate a can-do attitude, you're likely to have a tough time bouncing back from periods of unemployment.

Or maybe you simply need a breather from official projects and deliberately decide not to take on any new projects for the time being. I've been there and done that. It's really refreshing when you have the opportunity, and recharges you for new ventures.

Whatever the reasons you're not actively designing for clients or an employer, make the most of the time you have on your hands. Below I am giving suggestions on how to keep busy between jobs.

Practice your design skills

Why not go back to basics and work on your design skills? Put together a few mood boards in various different styles to broaden your horizon and stay in the game. You can read my blog on how to create the perfect mood board here.

How are your CAD skills? Do they need some brushing up? How about making some renderings of designs you have created and take your spatial planning to the next level?

Warehouse Conversion in SketchUp by Whispering Bold
Warehouse Conversion in SketchUp by Whispering Bold

Create new colour scheme's to wow future clients. Selecting the right paint colour scheme is often a challenge as interior colour choices are highly subjective. It can't hurt to have some colour ideas right in your back pocket, at the ready. For inspiration, read my blog on how to choose a colour scheme.

Work on your portfolio

Whether you're a seasoned interior design professional or a newly graduated designer, the one thing that is no different is the need to be able to show your body of work to prospective employers or clients. You need to build a professional portfolio to land a job at a commercial interior design firm or to sign up clients if you have your own creative studio.

It's very important that your portfolio is up to date and shows your most recent, and most beautiful body of work. This is the time to update it, and add to it. Why not add a gorgeous mood board you just created to practice your design skills?

Investigate new suppliers

What's the status of your fabrics and fittings samples? Do you have the latest paint and wallpaper swatches? This is your chance to update your sample suitcase and investigate what's new. Do you regular suppliers have any new products? Are there some fun up and coming suppliers you should visit? Do your research and ensure that you have the very latest to offer to your new clients in the future.

Find an internship

Those early in their careers may want to consider an internship, even if they have previously held a full-time job. The same goes for people considering a career transition. You develop your craft by doing, and following an expert around in an established career might just be exactly what you need to se yourself up for success.

Update your branding and company collateral

Take a good look at your own business, and how you promote yourself. Does your business collateral truly reflect what you stand for as a designer? Is your website up to date with the latest imagery? Do all the links still work or does everything need a bit of a refresh? What's the SEO status of your website; are people able to find you through the internet?

Dedicate the time to ensure a good administrative set up of your business, and it will save you time later.

Work on your social media profile

Did you know:

  • Instagram has over a billion users (Telecrunch, 2018)

  • 83% of Instagrammers say they discover new products and services on Instagram (Facebook, 2019)

  • 50% of Instagram users follow at least one business (Mention, 2018)

  • Brands can generate over 4x more interactions on Instagram compared to Facebook (Socialbakers, 2018)

  • Instagram helps 80% of Instagrammers decide whether to buy a product or service (Facebook, 2019)

If you don't use social media to profile yourself or promote your services, this is the time to do so. Let me provide you with some basic general Instagram tips and tricks that have helped me starting out and will help you grow your account and increase your engagement rate. Read the blog here.

Attend networking events

Can you join a group of like-minded people? Join a professional organisation. However, don't just attend meetings but consider taking your involvement to the next level by serving on a board or organising events yourself. You put yourself in the spotlight and through that people often end up finding jobs.

Take a course

Is there something you've wanted to learn but haven't found the time before? This is your chance! Are you up to date with the latest software? Would you like to specialise in a certain area such as kitchens, commercial design, garden design or perhaps property stages? Investigate what courses could work for you. The Interior Design Institute offers many advanced courses for graduates.

Also, employers are often wary about job candidates with outdated skills, especially in technical and design fields. If you take a class, or even begin pursuing an advanced degree, you already demonstrate that you're willing to learn new skills and stay up to date. It shows your engagement in the industry.

Stay up to date with the latest trends

Read books, watch TV, follow trend setters, attend trade shows and engage with other designers. You may be in between jobs but that doesn't mean you can't continue the journey.

Volunteer your services

Why not doing some smaller jobs for friends and family? Document projects you've completed for friends or in your own home. It's not just paid assignments that make up your portfolio. You can give your own home a makeover, document it and use this for your portfolio.

Have fun

Sometimes we all need a break. Maybe this unintended career break is the universe telling you to take stock and reassess. Or maybe it's an intended break and it's time for some self care. Take the moment to do something fun, take care of yourself and recharge. Spend time with family and friends. Make it worthwhile and count for something. Before you know it you'll be back in the swing of things and regret not making the most of it.


Would you like to learn more about Interior Design? Or perhaps become an interior designer yourself? Follow my footsteps and study Interior Design with The Interior Design Institute where I could be your personal tutor. Click here to read more and receive a discount.

1 comment


2 days ago

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Hi! Thanks for stopping by.

I am Marieke, a Dutch Australian interior designer, business executive, tutor, content creator and social media influencer.


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