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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.

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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Tobias van Schneider

Slideshows with extremely small images & without any description or any story behind a specific project. Don’t treat your portfolio as a folder where you dump old projects.

Tobias van Schneider @schneidertobias
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jeff_headshot
Jeff Finley

Don’t copy/paste your email or cover letter to several different companies. You are just asking for an embarrassing accident where you leave in another company’s info.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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shelby_white
Shelby White

Be interesting, but be yourself. Your resume doesn’t speak a thousand words, you do.

Shelby White @ShelbyWhiteDesignspiration
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Jessica Hische
Jessica Hische

I’ve seen some amazing and intricate portfolios with crazy die-cut covers or hand-bound edges, but in the end you should try to create a portfolio that makes your work look best.

It’s not always the flashiest one that is best suited for the job.

Jessica Hische @jessicahischeFlaunt
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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn Smith

Overly corporate emails are boring and weird.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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Jeff Finley

What’s your specialty? Make it clear the type of work you are looking to do.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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daxjustin_2
Dax Justin
Be unexpected.
Lead with confidence, care and passion.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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Jason James
Jason James

Contact the people you want to work with, not just places with job postings.

Personalize your cover letter.

Know shit about the company.

Make sure you thoroughly understand the role: UX is different than UI is different than Communication Design.

Have a personality, be friendly and warm, but not weird.

Follow up once, tops.

Always thank the people for their time and consideration.

 

Jason James @jas0njames
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Be good at what you do. If you want to be a killer poster designer, prove without any shadow of a doubt that you are a top 1% poster designer. Crush it.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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Jeremy Wisecup
Jeremy Wisecup

Create something for yourself, by yourself. It shows craftsmanship—an ability to create something from a blueprint. If well-executed, it will land you a job. After all, it worked for me.

Jeremy Wisecup
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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

If you have a website, don’t do a weird flash intro.

The best website to have is one that shows your work at the start, and you can easily click thru (left or right) to view the rest.

Sophia Chang @esymai
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timothy_goodman
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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Mike Perry

Don’t only have a resume.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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Mike Perry

It makes me nervous when people in this day and age don’t have a website. It happens way more often then you might think.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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Steve Liska
Steve Liska

We look for thoughtful ideas and problem-solving abilities. Then we look for breadth of visual styles, project types, mediums, and good typography.

Steve Liska @LiskaDesignFlaunt
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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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dylan
Dylan Lathrop

Don’t struggle against the work. Go to an extreme where you include everything, then edit it down, edit it again, take a break, edit it one more time. Just kidding, you’ll want to edit it again. Okay, you’re all set now.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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Beverly Fre$h
Beverly Fre$h

Don’t bore your interviewer by telling them what you think they want to hear. Its important to be professional but equally important to show your personality. I almost hired a terrible designer just because she had a great story about hanging out with Michael Rapaport.

Beverly Fre$h @beverlyfresh
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Jon Contino

Anything that resembles apathy is out. If you’re not into this 1000% then I don’t want to hear it.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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tsh_shaz
Shaz Sedigh - zadeh

Don’t make someone have to dig around to figure out what you do.  Clear copy for readers to see is always best.  If you are a conceptual art director, call that out.  If your are a hands-on designer, make that clear.  If you do both, mention it.

Shaz Sedigh - zadeh @shaz
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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

Play with the name of job titles. Studio Intern, you may write Fine Art Studio Assistant. Make yourself sound a little fancier!

Sophia Chang @esymai
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Tsh_Jennifer Carpici
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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Patric King
Patric King

I feel like I have about an hour of attention to give. Anything more than that brings us into the long-meeting zone, and I start to wonder if my clients are calling.

Patric King @patrickingFlaunt
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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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Michael Beirut
Michael Beirut

Simplicity, wit, and good typography.

Michael Beirut @michaelbeirutFlaunt
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dylan
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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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

A resume should be 1 page, simple, non-cluttered and straightforward. Trim the fat, show only the most important stuff. You will be judged on both the design, how you submitted it and on the content.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn Smith

Be succinct, use proper grammar, and triple check your spelling.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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Brett Burwell

Be confident, but humble. This isn’t the place for bravado.

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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marc_english
Marc English

Ninety-five percent of the people who come through my door are students who have little interview experience. So I usually take far too much time—an hour or more—trying to set them on the straight and narrow, as one particular guy did for me many years ago. This is what I learned:

1. Ask how much time you have. This lets the interviewer know you appreciate the value of time, and allows you to then take control as much as possible.

2. Divide your interview into thirds.

First third: Get personally professional. Ask about things you quickly observe in the environment. For example, “Did you climb Machu Picchu? I see that photo… I noticed you love art deco and modernist posters… I see that you collect shrunken heads and Victorian dildos…” Or you can ask about the interviewer’s path to the business, etc.

Second third: Show your portfolio. Never say anything negative about it. And be sure you don’t explain each piece, because the work should speak for itself. Also, if there is a relevant way to bring some of the information gleaned from the first third of the meeting into play, do so, because it shows the ability to connect ideas. When you ask for feedback, make sure to take it professionally, not personally.

Final third: Build your network. If the company you are applying to isn’t hiring, ask for referrals, ask for directions, ask for advice, but make sure not to overcompensate with heaping portions of prattle.

Marc English @marc_englishFlaunt
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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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victoriapater_Tsh
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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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Don’t try to get creative. You’ll just annoy people.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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will_bryant
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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cartogram-matt
Matthew Seccafien
Passion for what you do and eagerness to be involved in the community are important, but so is self-awareness.
Matthew Seccafien @studiocartogram
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tsh_shaz
Shaz Sedigh - zadeh

Everyone is somewhat of an everythingist these days with their range of skills. Which is great. But when you are just breaking into the agency career world, try to highlight one strong skill/focus to get in the door, establish credibility once in, then start showing off your other skill-sets.

Shaz Sedigh - zadeh @shaz
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Jason James
Jason James

Keep it to 1 page.

Keep the page feeling mostly full, students tend to have thin resumes, pad it with true things. Have a lot going on: organizations, design collectives, exhibitions, awards & scholarships, & work history. Focus on the typography and layout.

B&W is preferable, comes across as serious and doesn’t get fucked up by shitty B&W printers.

Print it on the nicest paper you can buy, appropriate weight and color, but it should feel nice. Have a plaintext version for online applications. Save it as a PDF, no other formats are acceptable.

BONUS: Have an html/css online version that’s responsive hosted at your domain.

Jason James @jas0njames
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Julieta Felix
Julieta Felix

Always keep your LinkedIn information up to date and be active in the community. You would be surprised the opportunities that have come out of people finding me on LinkedIn.

Julieta Felix @julietafelixUS Airways, Designer
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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Follow the rules, the process.

Follow-up. There is no shame in wanting to know what’s going on. Call and ask. Be polite. Ask if you should call again.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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Beverly Fre$h
Beverly Fre$h

My biggest pet peeve is vellum title pages in a portfolio.

Beverly Fre$h @beverlyfresh
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ryan-essmaker
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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will_bryant
Will Bryant
Be someone that other people want to be around. I’m not saying don’t be yourself, I’m trying to say that think about others more often. Be nice, the design world is small—don’t let that become a disadvantage.
Will Bryant @willbryantplz
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Bud Rodecker

Make it clear and readable, with just a touch of your personality. Approach a résumé like any other design process. Think about the project goals, the context, and your audience. Your résumé needs to present your intangible expertise—most likely it will be viewed on a screen within an email.

Remember, the person reviewing your resume is very busy and has seen hundreds of résumés.

Bud Rodecker @budrodecker
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Celeste Prevost
Celeste Prevost

Keep it simple. No need for lots of color, personal logos, multiple pages, or strange formats. Good typography and a basic template that is easy to read, easy to share and print will suffice. Remember that a lot of non-designers will read and sort your resume first.

Celeste Prevost @celesteprevost
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Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Edit.

Even if you are only left with 3 projects. One crappy project will kill your chances. Leave them wanting more.

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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Lotta Niemenen_900
Lotta Nieminen

An oldie but a goodie: what you have in your portfolio is what you’re going to get commissioned to do.

A couple years back, I did this personal project of a cityscape and posted it on my website. Soon after, my first building related commission came in and now that’s what everybody wants from me. Now I’m trying to steer away from that and am drawing animals and plants.

Having a profession on “both sides” has taught me a lot about that too: working as a designer who commissions and as an illustrator who gets commissioned. When I’m art directing, the only thing I see is what’s in someone’s portfolio.

It rarely crosses my mind that this person would want to do something else than what’s presented in his or her portfolio.

Lotta Nieminen @lottanieminen
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daxjustin_2
Dax Justin
Create work from within, don’t wait for anyone to assign work.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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