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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.

Patric King
Patric King

I hate “create an identity for a fake company” projects. I also don’t want to see exploratory pages, wherein you examine how you put a single page of type together in black and white.

I want to see projects that tell me who you are as a designer, and I want you to reinforce it again and again.

Patric King @patricking
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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

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

Sophia Chang @esymai
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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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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Don’t lie.

Don’t make it ugly.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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Mike Perry

I love getting physical mail.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn Smith

Do edit yourself. Hard.

Your work should show me your level of passion for what you do.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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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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daxjustin_2
Dax Justin
Create work from within, don’t wait for anyone to assign work.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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Lotta Niemenen_900
Lotta Nieminen

Self-belief is key.

Be proud of your own work and be prepared to tell others why. I think confidence and interest in your own field are crucial – you need to love your work for others to love it too.

Learning how to argument your ideas is absolutely crucial with client work too: if you want to get your visions through with a client, you need to be able to tell them why.

Lotta Nieminen @lottanieminen
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jon_contino
Jon Contino

I don’t need to see that you demonstrated leadership at your camp when you were 11. Just the important stuff, please!

Jon Contino @joncontino
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Josh-Berta
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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Fiona McDougall
When writing emails re-read what you’ve written at least once before sending. You may not always have time to create essay-worthy reading, but organize your thoughts, be succinct, and those on the receiving end will be more eager to respond.
Fiona McDougall @studiocartogram
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Adrian Shaughnessy
Adrian Shaughnessy

Neatness. Attention to detail. Lack of waffling. Good ideas. Good execution. Personality. Really, when I think about it, I’m often more interested in the designer sitting in front of me than their work.

Adrian Shaughnessy @AJWShaughnessyFlaunt
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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daxjustin_2
Dax Justin
Be unexpected.
Lead with confidence, care and passion.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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Taylor Vanden Hoek 900
Taylor Vanden Hoek

Don’t wait for the employer to get back to you. Typically the interviewer is also a designer with little time for hiring. It never hurts to follow up with a thank you and inquire about the next steps.

Taylor Vanden Hoek @taylorvdh
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shelby_white
Shelby White

What connects with people, is you connecting with yourself.

Shelby White @ShelbyWhiteDesignspiration
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Takashi Kusui
Takashi Kusui

In my opinion, a portfolio has to be something you are proud of, and something you can speak about with passion and conviction.

 

Takashi Kusui @tkusuiFlaunt
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Nkrumah Ferrar
Nkrumah Farrar

Learn how to merchandise your work. The pieces in your portfolio may very well be outstanding, but if you don’t get the thumbnail right, I’ll never click through to see it.

Nkrumah Farrar @nkrumah
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Jessica Walsh

Focus your efforts and portfolio on developing work you’re really passionate and proud of.

Jessica Walsh @jessicawalshSagmeister & Walsh
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Brett Burwell

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

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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Bud Rodecker

Don’t let your résumé run past a single page. No typos. Don’t listen to what they may have told you in your ‘Resume’s for Business Class.’

Bud Rodecker @budrodecker
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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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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 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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Tobias van Schneider

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

Tobias van Schneider @schneidertobias
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Adrian Shaughnessy
Adrian Shaughnessy

People who talk too much and think you have unlimited time to spend.

Having said that, I’m very sympathetic to job seekers. It’s not easy, and a certain amount of pushiness is required. I like folks who are determined, and it’s a good sign when they happen to know something about my studio—it appeals to my vanity.

Anyone who has plucked your name out of a list without having done any research is committing a grave, and common, mistake.

Adrian Shaughnessy @AJWShaughnessyFlaunt
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bburwell_Tsh
Brett Burwell

Ruthlessly edit your portfolio. Quality is much more important than quantity—and the last thing you want to do is have the weakest project in your portfolio leave a longer lasting impression than the strongest one.

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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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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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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Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan Sagmeister

1. To include a letter starting with “Dear Madam/Sir.” In my studio, those go right into the trash can. If somebody does not take the time to find out my name, I don’t feel obliged to read the letter.

2. To only include posters and book covers. Most design studios make a living organizing large amounts of information. Posters and book covers are not strong enough mediums to demonstrate that ability.

3. To include pieces in which a found piece of art with itsy-bitsy type on it is prominent. It is easy to make a magazine spread look good when it features a bleeding Richard Avedon photograph, and it says absolutely nothing about the talent of the designer.

Stefan Sagmeister @sagmeisterwalshFlaunt
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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

Don’t write long job descriptions. I always think it’s nice to list information to keep it short and sweet.

Sophia Chang @esymai
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Stephanie Landes Burris

Do your homework and demonstrate a genuine interest in the artist or studio – without gushing.

Stephanie Landes Burris @stephthetwit
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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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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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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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ryan-essmaker
Ryan Essmaker

Don’t follow up an hour or even a day later to see if they’ve received it. Wait at least a week or two to follow up.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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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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Josh Smith
Josh Smith

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

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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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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