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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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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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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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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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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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Allan Yu
Allan Yu

Have work that make people smile.

Have work that make people laugh.

Your portfolio should tell a short story, so put time in sequencing the work you’re showing.

Self initiated work is more important than school work.

Allan Yu @allanyu_SVPPLY
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Brandon-and-Julia-339
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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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Have a personality and a perspective.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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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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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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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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Adrian Shaughnessy
Adrian Shaughnessy

Show your work to the person you are presenting to, and not to yourself. Don’t position your work in such a way that you have a clear view of it, but the interviewer has to crane his or her neck to see it.

Unless you are sitting side by side with the person interviewing you, this is disastrous. Your work should be placed directly in front of the viewer, and not sideways. It’s glaringly obvious, but the number of young designers who commit this error is staggering.

Adrian Shaughnessy @AJWShaughnessyFlaunt
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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

Be passionate and show me that design is life.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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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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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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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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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

Smart companies are foregoing posting jobs altogether and straight up looking for people on portfolio sites like Behance, Dribbble & Coroflot. Be found there.

Use social media as your recruiter. Follow companies you admire, have interest in and terms that are applicable to your job hunt. You can literally wake up to an entire job hunt done for you every morning with no work on your part besides initial setup.

Social media is a gift and a curse. Your personal life and professional blur together. Have a strategy for each individual network and determine whether or not they play a part in your job hunt and how you choose to promote yourself.

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

Quick follow-ups are nice. Especially conversational ones.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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David Ogilvy
David Ogilvy

You can’t bore people into buying your product.

David Ogilvy @ogilvy
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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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Dax Justin
Create work from within, don’t wait for anyone to assign work.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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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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dylan
Dylan Lathrop

Don’t get too fancy. Competent typesetting, a clear hierarchy of information, and one point that reflects your personality goes a long way for a single sheet of paper.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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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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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Ask yourself, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” Immerse yourself and start tailoring your portfolio for a successful career in exactly that. Build towards what you want to do.

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

While your job at an electronics store is just fine, it doesn’t need to be on your resume.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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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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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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Brandon-and-Julia-339
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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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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Shelby White

What connects with people, is you connecting with yourself.

Shelby White @ShelbyWhiteDesignspiration
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Stephanie Landes Burris

Lose the objective statement. Instead, try a really quick, engaging profile statement that captures who you are as a designer AND a person.

Stephanie Landes Burris @stephthetwit
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jon_contino
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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Josh Smith
Josh Smith

Present the work simply and well.

Show how you took initiative and did more than you were asked…how you made the project way cooler than the brief required.

Show projects that relate to the real world (or even better the studio you want to work for). It may seem awesome to mock up a blind embossed book with one word on the cover, or a logo that is just a hairline slash across helvetica, but it’s hard to know what to do with that skill in a studio that does real, client-driven work.

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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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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Tsh_Jennifer Carpici
Jennifer Cirpici

Become interesting, not average.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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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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