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Viewing: Resume Application Process Portfolio
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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

A resume should be 1 page, simple, non-cluttered and straightforward. Trim the fat, show only the most important stuff. You will be judged on both the design, how you submitted it and on the content.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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tsh_shaz
Shaz
Sedigh
-
zadeh

Everyone is somewhat of an everythingist these days with their range of skills. Which is great. But when you are just breaking into the agency career world, try to highlight one strong skill/focus to get in the door, establish credibility once in, then start showing off your other skill-sets.

Shaz Sedigh - zadeh @shaz
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jessica_walsh
Jessica
Walsh

Work your ass off, stay persistent, and be nice to people. Most importantly, have a lot of fun.

When you’re having fun and really believe in what you are doing, other people are more likely to respond to it as well.

Jessica Walsh @jessicawalshSagmeister & Walsh
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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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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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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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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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dylan
Dylan
Lathrop

Don’t think you are being a pest when you follow-up on an application. Give them time, but there is nothing wrong in seeking information on a potential job.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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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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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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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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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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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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daxjustin_2
Dax
Justin
Carefully choose your client prospects and have a constant sense of purpose.

 

 

Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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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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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Stay on your grind 24/7. Always keep your work online. Always be available. Always be on the lookout.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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Allan Yu
Allan
Yu

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get the job, sometimes it’s not you, it’s “them.”

Except for the people on this site, in that case it’s always you.

Allan Yu @allanyu_SVPPLY
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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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Armin Vit
Armin
Vit

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

Armin Vit @arminvit
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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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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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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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Celeste Prevost
Celeste
Prevost

Keep it casual. At this point I’m more interested in the person than the work. Keenness, good ideas, great personality. Remember that you’re also bringing something to the table, it’s why they called you in. Don’t forget to ask questions, you’re also there to determine a fit.

Oh, and relax on the compliments! Nobody likes being praised too much.

Celeste Prevost @celesteprevost
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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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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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daxjustin_2
Dax
Justin
Create work from within, don’t wait for anyone to assign work.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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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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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn
Smith

Quick follow-ups are nice. Especially conversational ones.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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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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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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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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jeff_headshot
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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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

I don’t give a fuck if you were a lifeguard in 2009. Unless you were the lifeguard at Pentagram, kill it off your resume. There has never been an instance of a design agency being like, “Oh my god, you we’re a lifeguard? Me too! You’re hired.”

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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tsh_mikeperry
Mike
Perry

Don’t only have a resume.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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jeff_headshot
Jeff
Finley

Be short and concise. Clean and minimal.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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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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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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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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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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