Jeff Immer
What difficulties did you face at the beginning of your career?
Well the big one is that I absolutely sucked at design. My first week on the job I was called into my boss’ office and asked “Is this the best you can do? Because we can’t use this.” My work was that  bad. I started reading every design book I could and doing every design tutorial I could and got better fast. It was actually a good thing because I became a touch obsessed with improving and a few years later outgrew that job and moved on to the advertising agency world where things are much more competitive and fast.
What should a young designer do in order not to get hired by anybody?
‘Anybody’ is a pretty strong word and honestly I think it’s pretty difficult to not get hired by anybody. I’ve seen some truly awful, ugly work still land a job so ultimately if you’re a bad designer you’ll probably still make a living at it. I think the biggest taboo is being too shy to go after what you want. I’ve worked with a lot of good introverts who had difficulty getting hired and then difficulty moving up. You have to fake  confidence. Don’t go overboard but always present your work with confidence, before and after you’re hired. If you think something is wrong or could be better, speak up! Be heard.
Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
Oh god sooo many things! I wish I had known how to design things that didn’t look awful. I wish I had known how to speak and write in a professional manner. I wish I had known what other designers were getting paid. I wish I had learned to hold down shift when using the ‘transform’ tool in Photoshop.
Most of all I wish I had gone out of my way to meet and collaborate with other designers. I spent my first 2 years as an in-house designer at a company that wasn’t particularly design-centric and as such I missed out on all the impassioned arguments you participate in and insights that you gain working with a group of other designers.
Are there any rules or habits that help you do your job more efficiently?
Because my business partner lives in a city that’s 2 hours earlier than mine I’m up at 6 am every morning at the latest. I make coffee and then jump into emails so that they’re out of the way by 7 am.
If an email would take less than 5 seconds to respond to, respond immediately. If it would take longer I wait until 1 of my two specified times of the day to respong — the start of my day and the end of my day. You can lose SO MUCH TIME in email and my job is to design, not to write emails so I try and spend as little of my day as possible on emails. I use ActiveInbox for Gmail to sort mail and put it in actionable piles.
Save your unused work in an archive. You never know when one of those ideas could come in handy again.
Make something just for you every week. A fake album cover, or a poster, or a desktop background. Use that time to push your skills into new territory. If you’ve never tried 3D try it, and if you’re a weak typographer, make something that pushes you to explore new typography techniques. Don’t be afraid to fail — it’s the only way you’ll learn.
Would you recommend some books that young designers might find useful?
Definitely! For your soul: It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be  by Paul Arden. For your skills: Logo, Font, and Lettering Bible  by Leslie Cabarga. Those are my holy books.
Jeff answered the questions on July 24, 2015.
The answers were published on July 25, 2015.