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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.

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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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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vanschneider_headshot
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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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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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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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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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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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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Jeff Finley

Don’t focus too much on yourself. Your online portfolio should showcase how you help your customer.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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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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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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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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will_bryant
Will Bryant
Be someone that other people want to be around. I’m not saying don’t be yourself, I’m trying to say that think about others more often. Be nice, the design world is small—don’t let that become a disadvantage.
Will Bryant @willbryantplz
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Tsh_Jennifer Carpici
Jennifer Cirpici

Become interesting, not average.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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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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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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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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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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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

Be interesting, but be yourself. Your resume doesn’t speak a thousand words, you do.

Shelby White @ShelbyWhiteDesignspiration
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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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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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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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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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Taylor Vanden Hoek 900
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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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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Beverly Fre$h
Beverly Fre$h

Don’t use popular songs used to showcase time-based work.

Beverly Fre$h @beverlyfresh
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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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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

You are not the only person in the world. I am a small business owner doing a million things – it may take me some time to get back to you.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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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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bburwell_Tsh
Brett Burwell

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

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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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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Michael Beirut
Michael Beirut

Simplicity, wit, and good typography.

Michael Beirut @michaelbeirutFlaunt
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timothy_goodman
Timothy Goodman

“They” told me to keep the experimental work off my website. “They” told me to stay in branding. “They” told me I couldn’t do what I really wanted to do. You can’t listen to everybody, sometimes you have to follow your intuition.

Timothy Goodman @timothyogoodman
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Petrula Vrontikis
Petrula Vrontikis

Anything that represents your passion. I like to see projects in their true form— full-size posters, editorial projects that require thumbing through, or CD cases that have removable booklets.

Touching the work makes me appreciate it on a deeper emotional level.

Petrula Vrontikis Flaunt
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