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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.

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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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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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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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

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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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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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

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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daxjustin_2
Dax
Justin
Create work from within, don’t wait for anyone to assign work.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Kill it. No mediocre bullshit. Ever.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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shelby_white
Shelby
White

What connects with people, is you connecting with yourself.

Shelby White @ShelbyWhiteDesignspiration
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Jason James
Jason
James

Don’t begin your email or a cover letter with “Dear Sir”, “Dear Maddam”, “Dear Hiring Manager.”

Jason James @jas0njames
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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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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn
Smith

Overly corporate emails are boring and weird.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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Michael Beirut
Michael
Beirut

Simplicity, wit, and good typography.

Michael Beirut @michaelbeirutFlaunt
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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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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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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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jessica_walsh
Jessica
Walsh

Focus your efforts and portfolio on developing work you’re really passionate and proud of.

Jessica Walsh @jessicawalshSagmeister & Walsh
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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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dylan
Dylan
Lathrop

Apply to places that hold the most interest to you. This is different than applying to places with a name or reputation, which is a tough distinction to make when you’re young. Look into the work, the people, the culture, the location, but don’t consider any one variable a dealbreaker.

Dylan Lathrop @DylanLathrop
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Josh Smith
Josh
Smith

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

Josh Smith @joshsmithnyc
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Tsh_Jennifer Carpici
Jennifer
Cirpici

Become interesting, not average.

Jennifer Cirpici @JenniferCirpici
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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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bburwell_Tsh
Brett
Burwell

Ruthlessly edit your portfolio. Quality is much more important than quantity—and the last thing you want to do is have the weakest project in your portfolio leave a longer lasting impression than the strongest one.

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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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 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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Josh-Berta
Josh
Berta

Something clean, simple, and easy to scan and digest. Being prone to typos myself, I don’t prioritize spelling and punctuation. It can’t be obviously awful, but small mistakes don’t bother me if the experience and education look solid, and it’s presented effectively.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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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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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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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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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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Takashi Kusui
Takashi
Kusui

In my opinion, a portfolio has to be something you are proud of, and something you can speak about with passion and conviction.

 

Takashi Kusui @tkusuiFlaunt
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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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wNR9w9a4umt66QN5OvERdyUybHGhuFXaMXYKyZFf4M4
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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Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan
Sagmeister

Be nice. Most people don’t want to work with talented assholes.

Stefan Sagmeister @sagmeisterwalshFlaunt
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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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Taylor Vanden Hoek 900
Taylor
Vanden
Hoek

Do allow the resume to convey your personality. Through writing tone or visual representation, this first impression can go a long way.

Taylor Vanden Hoek @taylorvdh
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