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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.

Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Kill it. No mediocre bullshit. Ever.

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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jon_contino
Jon Contino

Be passionate and show me that design is life.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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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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Lotta Niemenen_900
Lotta Nieminen

Don’t overlook the power of well executed presentation. Put time and effort into figuring out the best way to document your projects.

Lotta Nieminen @lottanieminen
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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn Smith

Quick follow-ups are nice. Especially conversational ones.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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Taylor Vanden Hoek 900
Taylor Vanden Hoek

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

Taylor Vanden Hoek @taylorvdh
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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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Mike Perry

Don’t only have a resume.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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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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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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dylan
Dylan Lathrop

Don’t think you are being a pest when you follow-up on an application. Give them time, but there is nothing wrong in seeking information on a potential job.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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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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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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will_bryant
Will Bryant
This is probably already on the site, but you should hear it again—only showcase work that you want to be doing. If your web skills are iffy at best, only show web projects if that is a challenge you want to take on.
Will Bryant @willbryantplz
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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn Smith

If it’s a pet project that doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the rest, why is it there?

DO NOT SEND ME A 50MB PDF VIA EMAIL! Automatic delete…

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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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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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn Smith

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

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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Sophia Chang

Don’t write sloppily!

Sophia Chang @esymai
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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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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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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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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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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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Allan Yu
Allan Yu

Don’t show too much school work, it’s all the same. Take the principles you’ve learned and self initiate something, rebrand Sketchers.

The design of your portfolio is in of itself a piece of your work so don’t use one of those off the shelf templates from Cargo Collective/Squarespace, at the least, modify it.

Don’t make me dig for your contact info.

Allan Yu @allanyu_
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timothy_goodman
Timothy Goodman

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

Timothy Goodman @timothyogoodman
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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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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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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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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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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria Pater

As much as your résumé is a summary of your experience, it can also act as a summary of your personality. Write the way you would talk about those experiences.

Include things that make you unique, or be witty — if that’s your thing.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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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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jon_contino
Jon Contino

Please don’t include everything you’ve ever worked on. I’d be more impressed by a good self-initiated project than 400 flyers you designed for MTV. I’m impressed by design skills more than your previous client list. The good stuff will come, I want to see what you’re made of now.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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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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Jessica Walsh

Seek out studios or creatives you’ve always admired, and figure out a way to work or learn from them.

Jessica Walsh @jessicawalshSagmeister & Walsh
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Bud Rodecker

Send your resume and portfolio. Follow up. Do your research, know the work of the studio you’re applying at, know the people you’re interviewing with.

Walk that fine line between being persistent and interested and respectful of everyone’s time.

 

Bud Rodecker @budrodecker
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vanschneider_headshot
Tobias van Schneider

Ignore everything you learned in school about creating your Resume and you know the “Don’ts”

Tobias van Schneider @schneidertobias
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jon_contino
Jon Contino

Keep it clean and to the point. I personally find resumes to be outdated, so keep the info brief and informative. Save the bullshitting for when we talk in person.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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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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David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy

You can’t bore people into buying your product.

David Ogilvy @ogilvy
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Matthew Seccafien
In a professional atmosphere, it’s best to keep it professional and treat the “Rockstars” like any other regular person.

 

 

Matthew Seccafien @studiocartogram
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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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Sam Becker
Sam Becker

The best portfolios can be consumed quickly; they allow the work to speak for itself. In my opinion, it is the best way to gauge a designer’s type and layout skills, because, presumably, they created their portfolio without the benefit of a design director.

Sam Becker @sambeckerdesignFlaunt
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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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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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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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will_bryant
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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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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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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