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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

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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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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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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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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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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Dax Justin
Be unexpected.
Lead with confidence, care and passion.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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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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dylan
Dylan Lathrop

Don’t struggle against the work. Go to an extreme where you include everything, then edit it down, edit it again, take a break, edit it one more time. Just kidding, you’ll want to edit it again. Okay, you’re all set now.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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ryan-essmaker
Ryan Essmaker

Only show the type of work you love and that you’d be willing to do again if asked.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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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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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

Do edit. Don’t include your full oeuvre. 10 to 15 pieces will do.

Do make a nice thing out of it. People remember nice things.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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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 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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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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Josh Smith
Josh Smith

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

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason Schwartz

Have a personality and a perspective.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Prescot Perez-Fox
Prescott Perez-Fox

I have sample images on my web site, where I feature more projects with fewer images.

The strategy is to provide a tease on the web, then a little more in an e-mailed PDF, and finally the full picture in print, via a face-to-face interview.

Lately, people are more impatient, and I’m thinking of revising that strategy. I worry that having too much work online will lead people to be disappointed when they meet me in person—I don’t want potential employers tosay “I’ve seen this already on your site. What’s next?”

Prescott Perez-Fox @scottperezfoxFlaunt
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Beverly Fre$h
Beverly Fre$h

As the great rapper Suga Free says, “If you stay ready, what you gotta get ready fo?” Rehearse the presentation of your work so thoroughly that it becomes effortless and natural and you can ad-lib and present it in casual or formal settings.

Beverly Fre$h @beverlyfresh
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Beverly Fre$h
Beverly Fre$h

My biggest pet peeve is vellum title pages in a portfolio.

Beverly Fre$h @beverlyfresh
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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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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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Stephanie Landes Burris

Don’t wait for job postings to appear. Identify people you admire and studios you’re dying to work for and ask for an informational interview. Then bring your portfolio and a lot of good questions.

Stephanie Landes Burris @stephthetwit
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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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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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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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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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tsh_shaz
Shaz Sedigh - zadeh

Proudly display your personal projects and experiments that aren’t tied to “9-5  paycheck” work.  It tells the reader a lot about your real passions.  If you don’t have any to display yet, start now.

Shaz Sedigh - zadeh @shaz
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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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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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Stephanie Landes Burris

Don’t ever show any work that you have to make an excuse for. Go ahead and show the concept that didn’t get approved if you believe in it.

Stephanie Landes Burris @stephthetwit
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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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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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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

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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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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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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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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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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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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Celeste Prevost
Celeste Prevost

Keep it simple. No need for lots of color, personal logos, multiple pages, or strange formats. Good typography and a basic template that is easy to read, easy to share and print will suffice. Remember that a lot of non-designers will read and sort your resume first.

Celeste Prevost @celesteprevost
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Jeff Finley

What’s your specialty? Make it clear the type of work you are looking to do.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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sophia_chang
Sophia Chang

Don’t write sloppily!

Sophia Chang @esymai
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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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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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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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Armin Vit
Armin Vit

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

Armin Vit @arminvit
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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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