A leave behind (or leave-behind) is exactly what it sounds like: a physical object that you leave behind to help your interviewer, client, or supervisor remember you. The object can be anything--an interesting business card, a piece of handmade candy, or even those branded pens that banks hand out at career fairs.
It sounds like a simple technique, but how many graphic designers, copywriters, designers, photographers, and other creative types still do leave behinds? If you're not in a creative industry, is it worthwhile to try the leave behind, or will it come off as unabashed brownnosing? The answer is: yes, it's worth it. This is how you master the art of the leave behind.
1) Read your audience If you want to make a grand gesture, it can send a powerful message. Unfortunately, that powerful message is usually, "This fool is overcompensating." You need to strike a careful balance between respectful and fawning, and the easiest way to do that is by choosing a small, simple token. Don't worry about being too creative--even unimaginative people are appreciative of genuine creativity, and seasoned interviewers and clients will love that you made the effort. And remember, if you really feel that a bombastic (or particularly straight-laced) leave behind will impress a particular audience, go for the gold!
2) Make it personal If you're just copying something that you saw on Pinterest or Smashing Magazine, your efforts will come off as by-the-book; you may even hurt your chances of being considered. That's because professionals know ingenuity (and lack thereof) when they see it. So set aside the inspirational websites and brainstorm what it is, exactly, that sets you apart. Do you love pot-bellied pigs? Are you passionate about sprint triathlons? Ask yourself, "What makes me me?", then turn that answer into something delightful and different.
For example, I love art and tattoos. Did you know that aspiring tattoo artists often practice their craft on the skin of fruit? Wouldn't it be amazing to leave behind an apple or orange tattooed with my contact information and my logo?
3) Reflect your work A leave behind is meaningless if it doesn't remind the recipient of your outstanding work. Personalize it to death, but remember that you'll be hired on the strength of your portfolio, not your personality. You've hit the jackpot if your leave behind leaves us wanting more and leads naturally to another element, like a website, that can expound on your accomplishments. Don't forget to maintain aesthetic cohesion between your leave behind, resume, website, physical portfolio, and other promotional materials. If an interviewer or client takes the time to look at 2 or more of these elements, they should see a link immediately.
4) Follow the golden rule What would you like to receive as a gift? Perhaps something that's...
- Fun to play with
- Emotionally or mentally fulfilling
Take the case of Sabine Ahrens, a freelance designer from Hamburg, Germany. She took a common tool--a flowchart--and transformed it into a learning opportunity for potential clients. Her flowchart answers questions that plague business owners: Do I really need a designer? Which parts of my business need help? Is there a good reason not to hire a designer?
Sabine's leave behind hits all the points: helpful, funny, aesthetically pleasing, and infinitely shareable. Follow her example and design something that you'd love to handle, keep on your desk, or show your friends. A great leave behind will make an impression long after the interview's over.
Have you seen an amazing or effective leave behind lately? Tell us about it in the comments.