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Viewing: Resume Application Process Portfolio
03/26:  Student Spotlight – Michael Spizziri

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.

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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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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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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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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Armin Vit
Armin
Vit

Proofread.

Lay it out like if it were the last piece of design you will ever do. In other words typeset it nicely. Use hierarchy. Make it easy to browse.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria
Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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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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Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan
Sagmeister

Your portfolio should be as varied as possible. We are a small company, so we all have a great amount of differing tasks to attend to. I am looking for the same varied qualities in the people I hire.

Stefan Sagmeister @sagmeisterwalshFlaunt
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vanschneider_headshot
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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Josh-Berta
Josh
Berta

Many young designers tend to “brand” themselves. I’m not a fan. Avoid over-designing it. A resume is meant to communicate clearly and efficiently, not be a showcase for creative excellence.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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wNR9w9a4umt66QN5OvERdyUybHGhuFXaMXYKyZFf4M4
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

If it’s a pet project that doesn’t quite seem to fit in with the rest, why is it there?

DO NOT SEND ME A 50MB PDF VIA EMAIL! Automatic delete…

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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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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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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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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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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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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David Ogilvy
David
Ogilvy

You can’t bore people into buying your product.

David Ogilvy @ogilvy
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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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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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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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tsh_mikeperry
Mike
Perry

I love getting physical mail.

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

Quick follow-ups are nice. Especially conversational ones.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Kill it. No mediocre bullshit. Ever.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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jon_contino
Jon
Contino

Be passionate and show me that design is life.

Jon Contino @joncontino
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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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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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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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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Have a personality and a perspective.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Tsh_Jennifer Carpici
Jennifer
Cirpici

If you want to be the designer that stands out of the rest, do something more than just designing. Make an interesting project like for charity, start an agency, hold an exhibition, start a design festival or build a site like Behance. Become interesting.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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jeff_headshot
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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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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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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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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Josh Smith
Josh
Smith

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

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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jeff_headshot
Jeff
Finley

Be short and concise. Clean and minimal.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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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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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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