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Viewing: Resume Application Process Portfolio

The Secret Handshake is an online resource for student designers and young creatives (18-25) looking for insider insight, honest answers and solid solutions to help you go pro.

Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Don’t include photos where you are holding something with disgusting, dirty, chewed-off fingernails. Photoshop that shit out.

Don’t put it in a weird box or dumb, tricky things. Don’t show anything with bad craft (glue all over it, mocked up poorly…etc.).

Don’t pretend fake work was real work. Just be real about it. Don’t make any excuses like “the budget was small, so that’s why XYZ was poorly produced”. Don’t show anything you are not totally excited about.

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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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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Petrula Vrontikis
Petrula Vrontikis

You should never make excuses about anything.

Doing this tells the reviewer more about personality issues than anything about the work. Also, make sure you proofread. Typos in the work say one of two things: either you didn’t see the error, or you saw it and decided it was okay to leave it in.

Both of these are unacceptable and will eliminate you as a candidate.

Petrula Vrontikis Flaunt
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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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Michael Beirut
Michael Beirut

I look at portfolios more quickly than their owners would like. I can usually—almost right away—tell whether or not someone’s work appeals to me. If I’m reviewing in person, I try to say something constructive.

If it’s a drop-off, or something e-mailed to me, I almost always write a note.

Michael Beirut @michaelbeirutFlaunt
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Brett Burwell

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

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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Josh-Berta
Josh Berta

Something clean, simple, and easy to scan and digest. Being prone to typos myself, I don’t prioritize spelling and punctuation. It can’t be obviously awful, but small mistakes don’t bother me if the experience and education look solid, and it’s presented effectively.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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shelby_white
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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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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Tsh_Jennifer Carpici
Jennifer Cirpici

Become interesting, not average.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Be smart about it. Keep it simple. They only care about the portfolio.

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

I once saw a portfolio PDF with 85 projects in it. I stopped paying attention at about 10 and the designer immediately weeded themselves with no chance out because they proved they didn’t understand how humans handle data.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Steve Liska
Steve Liska

We prefer an e-mail with a link to a web site, or sample printed materials. If we like either, we put you on the list of people we will see, so long as you bother to call and follow up. If we are not looking for help, we will try to give a half hour informational interview, followed by referrals.

We are generally honest and straightforward, and will try to help you with the process of finding a first job.

Steve Liska @LiskaDesignFlaunt
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Petrula Vrontikis
Petrula Vrontikis

Not doing enough research about your reviewers. Knowing more about the person looking at your work will help stimulate and guide the conversation. And when you haven’t asked enough questions after the person has looked at the work—this is a missed opportunity to gain valuable insights.

Petrula Vrontikis Flaunt
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

You will be judged based on your email address.  Apply from a professional email address. No one wants cancunhottie69@aol.com on their team.

Gmail and/or custom domain ONLY. Don’t be eliminated from the pack because you used a Hotmail, or AOL email address.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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jon_contino
Jon Contino

Keep the work front and center and don’t bury it in a fancy design of your actual portfolio. This goes for web and printed matter.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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Bob Zeni
Bob Zeni

Portfolio presentation is performance. Consider each piece in your portfolio to be a short story. Write the story about each piece as a script in a beginning, middle & end manner or a context, action, & results approach. Memorize the script. Rehearse the presentation – preferably in front of a mirror – until you can tell each story in a casual, articulate manner.

Passion, knowledge and confidence (and your great work, of course) are the keys to a memorable presentation.

Bob Zeni @bobzeni
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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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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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Taylor Vanden Hoek 900
Taylor Vanden Hoek

Do your research. Use the power of the internet to find your way to the decision maker. The time and attention up front will pay off during the interview.

Taylor Vanden Hoek @taylorvdh
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Josh-Berta
Josh Berta

Many young designers tend to “brand” themselves. I’m not a fan. Avoid over-designing it. A resume is meant to communicate clearly and efficiently, not be a showcase for creative excellence.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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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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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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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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dylan
Dylan Lathrop

A resume isn’t a collection of accomplishments, but more a showcase for the person you hand it to that shows how you fit into their work culture. No resume acts the same from job to job, so consider it a living document.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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Celeste Prevost
Celeste Prevost

Share only the work you want to do, and tailor it, every time, to the specific job you’re seeking. Curate! Limit yourself to only a handful (or even less!) of projects that you are your best. Have a website, but don’t discredit the humble pdf. Both are simple tools that’s very effective at getting people’s eyes on your work.

Celeste Prevost @celesteprevost
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Petrula Vrontikis
Petrula Vrontikis

I suggest ten to twelve projects, maximum. If projects include multiple components, or fully designed books, eight to ten projects will be enough. One of the main parameters for a portfolio review is limited time. Presenting the work should take a maximum of thirty to thirty-five minutes.

Many designers show, and say, far too much, leaving little time for an authentic conversation to develop.

Petrula Vrontikis Flaunt
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Apply intelligently. There are no sure-things when it comes to getting a job, but everything you do RIGHT, puts you ahead of someone who did something WRONG.

You have 10 seconds to make a killer impression. Apply intelligently and don’t get weeded out for the wrong reasons.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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daxjustin_2
Dax Justin
Carefully choose your client prospects and have a constant sense of purpose.

 

 

Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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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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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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Allan Yu
Allan Yu

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get the job, sometimes it’s not you, it’s “them.”

Except for the people on this site, in that case it’s always you.

Allan Yu @allanyu_SVPPLY
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Mike Perry

I love getting physical mail.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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Taylor Vanden Hoek 900
Taylor Vanden Hoek

Don’t be afraid to remove something good in favor of a more well rounded portfolio. I’d rather see a designer’s versatility than see that they’re awesome at one thing.

Taylor Vanden Hoek @taylorvdh
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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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Josh-Berta
Josh Berta

Don’t lump too many things onto one page. Give the work some breathing room. This is especially true of logos, which many students tend to present together on one page. They each represent different ideas, so why show them as a group? This is even more problematic in that truly great logos are hard to pull off, so you shouldn’t be showing a ton of them anyway.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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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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Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Don’t list hobbies like reading or skydiving unless it is a very interesting part of your life.

Don’t list the computer programs you know. If you can use Photoshop we can already tell.

Don’t put a bunch of marketing jargon about your experience. Use real words to say what you learned and the things you did.

Don’t use weird typefaces, “personal brand logos” or illustrations. You can ignore that only if they are extremely awesome, but it almost never happens.

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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Lotta Niemenen_900
Lotta Nieminen

Don’t be discouraged if things don’t always go according to plans. Everyone has setbacks, and good things come to those who wait. You have to work hard, but success can also be a little more than that: many of the amazing opportunities I’ve gotten are the result of meeting the right people at the right time.

Lotta Nieminen @lottanieminen
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will_bryant
Will Bryant
Be interested in what you’re doing, talking about, and who you are talking to.
Will Bryant @willbryantplz
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Damien Correll
Damien Correll

Brevity goes a long way. Concision in your communication is generally always preferred to the long-winded approach.

Damien Correll @damiencorrell
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timothy_goodman
Timothy Goodman

Sometimes a good album could have been great if they just cut out those 3-4 mediocre songs. Your portfolio is the same thing.

Timothy Goodman @timothyogoodman
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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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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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Adrian Shaughnessy
Adrian Shaughnessy

I don’t mind seeing one or two examples of personal work; though I’d much rather see how a young designer tackles an identity for a local dentist, or something equally mundane.

How designers design the everyday is a good measure of their ability. Anyone can makea gig poster look good .

Adrian Shaughnessy @AJWShaughnessyFlaunt
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Brandon-and-Julia-339
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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Jason James
Jason James

Don’t begin your email or a cover letter with “Dear Sir”, “Dear Maddam”, “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Jason James @jas0njames
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