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Viewing: Resume Application Process Portfolio

The Secret Handshake is a resource for student designers and young creatives looking for insider insight, honest answers and solid solutions to go pro. We provide year-round advice, local events and one yearly conference to help as many young professionals as possible.

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Sophia Chang

Write clearly. I usually write all my applications in capital letters.

Sophia Chang @esymai
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Bud Rodecker

Present only work you’re proud of, you shouldn’t feel the need to make any excuses for the pieces you present. Limit your work (somewhere around 8-15 projects is ok).

Think about your audience, tailor the portfolio by including work you know they’ll be interested in. Show yourself in your portfolio, your passion projects often are the most interesting things in your portfolio.

These projects let your interviewer get a glimpse of who you are, what you’re passionate about, and what you do in your free time. Because let’s face it you spend a lot of time with your coworkers, you’ll need to get along.

Bud Rodecker @budrodecker
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Stay on your grind 24/7. Always keep your work online. Always be available. Always be on the lookout.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Jessica Helfand
Jessica Helfand

A resume that is poorly designed tells us that you are not detail conscious, or that you are incapable of making sound judgments about something as marketing- specific as a resume when left to your own devices.

It is easy to overlook, and impossible to dismiss, since your resume, left on the interviewer’s desk, is the sole reflection of you once the interview is over and you have gone home.

Jessica Helfand @DesignObserverFlaunt
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Submit your resume, a link to your portfolio on the internet and a short brief about why you are sending the email. Keep everything under 3 paragraphs MAX and all attachments under 3MB.

Be careful is sending a link to a portfolio PDF on a file sharing site. Sometimes companies are blocked from accessing those files.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Tobias van Schneider

Be on time. Be Informed. Infect people with your passion. Bring a gift (this always works). And as my mother always used to say: Be a red sheep.

Tobias van Schneider @schneidertobias
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Gail Anderson
Gail Anderson

Don’t overwhelm the interviewer with too much work. If you’re good, it’ll be evident in ten to fifteen pieces.

Gail Anderson @GailAndersonNYFlaunt
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Jennifer Cirpici

Don’t forget to sleep and spend time not in front of a screen.Stay healthy.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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Timothy Goodman

“They” told me to keep the experimental work off my website. “They” told me to stay in branding. “They” told me I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. You can’t listen to everybody, sometimes you have to follow your intuition.

Timothy Goodman @timothyogoodman
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Jessica Walsh

Work your ass off, stay persistent, and be nice to people. Most importantly, have a lot of fun.

When you’re having fun and really believe in what you are doing, other people are more likely to respond to it as well.

Jessica Walsh @jessicawalshSagmeister & Walsh
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Tobias van Schneider

Keep it short, make it clear & surprise me. Make sure a resume is tailored to the person/company who is getting it. Some care about schools & traditional education, some don’t.

Tobias van Schneider @schneidertobias
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Ryan Essmaker

Be smart but not overly clever. Keep it short and sweet. Tailor the cover letter for *every* application.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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Josh Berta

Write a cover letter that actually describes how your experience is relevant to the place you’re applying. Be concise but specific. When it comes to setting up an interview, make yourself available, but not too available. It doesn’t hurt to schedule multiple interviews on one day, and to let your interviewers know that (in the most unassuming way). Look like you’re in demand, even if it’s more illusion than reality. During an interview, follow their lead. Don’t launch into a diatribe if they just want to scan your book quietly and then talk about it afterward. This is partly intuited, but you can also just ask what they prefer to do if it’s not apparent. Lastly, post-interview, send an email thanking them for their time and consideration.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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Petrula Vrontikis
Petrula Vrontikis

The work should be current—ideally from the past year. It’s not a retrospective of your time in school, or proof of all of the classes you attended. It’s good to think of the collection of work in the portfolio as evidence of your skills and conceptual abilities.

Petrula Vrontikis Flaunt
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Jason James
Jason James

Don’t have multiple pages. Don’t include non-design related jobs.

Technical issues: too much white space, too small of margins, too small type, lots of colors or illustrations, gimmicks to grab attention like infographics and shit, overly stiff language and generic objectives.

No Word docs, jpegs, or any non-PDF form. Make sure to label your file YourNameResume.pdf.

May seem obvious, but don’t forget contact information.

 

Jason James @jas0njames
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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Proofread.

Lay it out like if it were the last piece of design you will ever do. In other words typeset it nicely. Use hierarchy. Make it easy to browse.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Have a personality and a perspective.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Ryan Essmaker

Only show the type of work you love and that you’d be willing to do again if asked.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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Shawn Smith

Quick follow-ups are nice. Especially conversational ones.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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Jessica Hische
Jessica Hische

I’m a huge believer in a portfolio that’s easy to change and edit. Like a web site, if it’s not easy to update, in the long run, you never will.You’d wind up starting over again in six months, when you have newer, and better, work.

I always try to include a few actual pieces, along with the portfolio—seeing and holding books or packaging inperson is different from seeing it printed out on paper.

Jessica Hische @jessicahischeFlaunt
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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Unless it’s a job to design iPad applications I do not want to see your portfolio on an iPad. I can look at your work on my own iPad in my own time. If you come in to show me your portfolio, show me things, don’t show me JPGs.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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Shelby White

Start with a goal for your portfolio because designing without goals is like going to the grocery store hungry.

Shelby White @ShelbyWhiteDesignspiration
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Jeff Finley

Be short and concise. Clean and minimal.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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Taylor Vanden Hoek

Don’t assume a resume has to be a piece of paper.

Taylor Vanden Hoek @taylorvdh
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David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy

Talent, I believe, is most likely to be found among nonconformists, dissenters, and rebels.

David Ogilvy @ogilvy
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Petter Ringbom
Petter Ringbom

Don’t include work just because it’s real. The fact that something was actually printed and used doesn’t make it more valuable.

Petter Ringbom @PetterRingbomFlaunt
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Brett Burwell

Don’t forget that the interview process goes both ways. Finding a work environment that suits your skill set and personality will be critical to your professional development and overall happiness as a human being.

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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Adrian Shaughnessy
Adrian Shaughnessy

It is important not to have too much. As a general rule, don’t show more than one or two examples of the same sort of work—if you’ve designed three logos for three bars, only show one or two.

Adrian Shaughnessy @AJWShaughnessyFlaunt
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Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson

Ideas, followed by great ideas, and yet more great ideas hot on their heels. We can teach people how to use design software—it seems much harder to teach people how to have ideas.

Michael Johnson Flaunt
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Bud Rodecker

Don’t mount your work on sheets of glass, or any other tricky presentation method. Just like your resume treat your portfolio like a design problem… The purpose of your portfolio should be to frame your work. Don’t let it overshadow the work inside.

Bud Rodecker @budrodecker
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Will Bryant
Get a website. Seriously, you need a website! You don’t have to update all 17 social media/portfolio sites, but it doesn’t hurt to be present on several. The majority of my client work comes from the internet. I try to populate & edit each site I use (behance, dribble, working not working, instagram, twitter, Facebook, and my portfolio) with different projects and glimpses of my process. You never know where work will come from. Also, keep that in mind when posting bathroom selfies.

 

 

Will Bryant @willbryantplz
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Jennifer Cirpici

If you want to be the designer that stands out of the rest, do something more than just designing. Make an interesting project like for charity, start an agency, hold an exhibition, start a design festival or build a site like Behance. Become interesting.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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Jason James
Jason James

Don’t show shitty work.

Don’t do your own dev unless you really know what you’re doing.

Don’t show only print projects unless you want to be unemployed forever.

Don’t make me go back to the index just to get to the next project.

Don’t upload gigantic images that take forever to load.

Jason James @jas0njames
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Jennifer Cirpici

Do not be shy or egotistical about promoting yourself and your work. Just because you do not hear many people talking about self-promotion does not mean no one is doing it.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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Dylan Lathrop

Apply to places that hold the most interest to you. This is different than applying to places with a name or reputation, which is a tough distinction to make when you’re young. Look into the work, the people, the culture, the location, but don’t consider any one variable a dealbreaker.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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Mike Perry

I love getting physical mail.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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Stephanie Landes Burris

Don’t ever show any work that you have to make an excuse for. Go ahead and show the concept that didn’t get approved if you believe in it.

Stephanie Landes Burris @stephthetwit
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

I don’t give a fuck if you were a lifeguard in 2009. Unless you were the lifeguard at Pentagram, kill it off your resume. There has never been an instance of a design agency being like, “Oh my god, you we’re a lifeguard? Me too! You’re hired.”

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy

You can’t bore people into buying your product.

David Ogilvy @ogilvy
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Tobias van Schneider

Build your portfolio with the work you want to do in the future instead of just using it as a backlog of projects. Your portfolio is not what you did, but what you’re going to do next. Same with calling out what exactly you did on a specific project will make sure that there are no wrong expectations from either side. Also: Self-Initiated projects show a lot more who you are & what you want to do.

Tobias van Schneider @schneidertobias
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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Do edit. Don’t include your full oeuvre. 10 to 15 pieces will do.

Do make a nice thing out of it. People remember nice things.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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Stephanie Landes Burris

Treat your resume as if it were the first piece of work in your portfolio. It should reflect your style and showcase your ability to generate great ideas.

Stephanie Landes Burris @stephthetwit
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Josh-Berta
Josh Berta

Don’t lie. I’m not even a fan of exaggerating or glossing over potential shortcomings. It’s ok to talk about challenging circumstances you’ve had with clients, bosses, or teachers, as long as you’re fair and truthful. Present them as learning experiences, and explain how that knowledge now informs your choices as a designer, an employee and what you believe will be a good fit with an employer.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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Josh-Berta
Josh Berta

It’s better to show fewer great pieces, than a whole bunch of mediocre work. Show systems (i.e. logo, printed collateral, packaging, web, etc.), not one-offs: it’s about great ideas, and how they extend well beyond one singular expression. And show a variety of work: varying styles, varying industries, varying touch points. Again, it’s about showcasing your ideas, not your acumen for one kind of thing.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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Victoria Pater

Only show work you like, or you’ll end up being hired to do things you don’t like.

 

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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Will Bryant
Quality work that has a good point of view, personal voice, and heart stand out. Sometimes that comes across a range of mediums/types of projects and other times it’s a really solid illustration portfolio.
Will Bryant @willbryantplz
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Tobias van Schneider

Don’t be quiet and too shy, even if it’s hard.

Tobias van Schneider @schneidertobias
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Timothy Goodman

Persistence is great, but don’t be annoying. Learn how to be pleasantly aggressive.

Timothy Goodman @timothyogoodman
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Jonathan Cutrell

Remember this advice, paraphrased from Dale Carnegie: get in the other person’s shoes, and adopt their desires as your own. If you can stir in me an eager want to hire you and you show how you will give me what I want, you have a much better chance of being hired than someone who comes to the table with their list of needs (or worse, demands).

Jonathan Cutrell @jcutrell
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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

Don’t write sloppily!

Sophia Chang @esymai
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