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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.

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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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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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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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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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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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

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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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

Don’t write sloppily!

Sophia Chang @esymai
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tsh_mikeperry
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Don’t lie.

Don’t make it ugly.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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jeff_headshot
Jeff Finley

Be short and concise. Clean and minimal.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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jon_contino
Jon Contino

Be passionate and show me that design is life.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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Brandon-and-Julia-339
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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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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Brandon-and-Julia-339
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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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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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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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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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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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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daxjustin_2
Dax Justin
Be unexpected.
Lead with confidence, care and passion.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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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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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

Be sure to present your work professionally. Appearance is important because that gives the employers an idea of who you are.

Use good photography, use a clean binder with clean sheets. Or speaking digitally, be sure the user can access your body of work easily and navigate swiftly.

Sophia Chang @esymai
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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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ryan-essmaker
Ryan Essmaker

Be smart but not overly clever. Keep it short and sweet. Tailor the cover letter for *every* application.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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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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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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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

Have a personality and a perspective.

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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Tsh_Jonathon_Cutrell
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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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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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

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

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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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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ryan-essmaker
Ryan Essmaker

Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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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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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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