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Viewing: Resume Application Process Portfolio
03/03:  The Secret Handshake Interviews – Maria Giudice

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.

tsh_mikeperry
Mike
Perry

I love getting physical mail.

Mike Perry @MikePerryStudio
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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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sophia_chang
Sophia
Chang

Don’t write sloppily!

Sophia Chang @esymai
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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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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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Allan Yu
Allan
Yu

Pass the beer test.

Be clever and piece together email addresses.

Find out who your heroes are and work for them/with them. Read about how Big Sean got to work with Kanye, then figure out how to work with “your Kanye.”

Put yourself in a position where your heroes can hear 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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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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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-Berta
Josh
Berta

It’s better to show fewer great pieces, than a whole bunch of mediocre work. Show systems (i.e. logo, printed collateral, packaging, web, etc.), not one-offs: it’s about great ideas, and how they extend well beyond one singular expression. And show a variety of work: varying styles, varying industries, varying touch points. Again, it’s about showcasing your ideas, not your acumen for one kind of thing.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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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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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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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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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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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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Armin Vit
Armin
Vit

Follow the rules, the process.

Follow-up. There is no shame in wanting to know what’s going on. Call and ask. Be polite. Ask if you should call again.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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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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Armin Vit
Armin
Vit

Don’t lie.

Don’t make it ugly.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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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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jeff_headshot
Jeff
Finley

Don’t copy/paste your email or cover letter to several different companies. You are just asking for an embarrassing accident where you leave in another company’s info.

Jeff Finley @jeff_finley
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn
Smith

Overly corporate emails are boring and weird.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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cartogram-matt
Matthew
Seccafien
In a professional atmosphere, it’s best to keep it professional and treat the “Rockstars” like any other regular person.

 

 

Matthew Seccafien @studiocartogram
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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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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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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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Petter Ringbom
Petter
Ringbom

Don’t include work just because it’s real. The fact that something was actually printed and used doesn’t make it more valuable.

Petter Ringbom @PetterRingbomFlaunt
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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Have a personality and a perspective.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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cartogram-fiona
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan
Sagmeister

1. To include a letter starting with “Dear Madam/Sir.” In my studio, those go right into the trash can. If somebody does not take the time to find out my name, I don’t feel obliged to read the letter.

2. To only include posters and book covers. Most design studios make a living organizing large amounts of information. Posters and book covers are not strong enough mediums to demonstrate that ability.

3. To include pieces in which a found piece of art with itsy-bitsy type on it is prominent. It is easy to make a magazine spread look good when it features a bleeding Richard Avedon photograph, and it says absolutely nothing about the talent of the designer.

Stefan Sagmeister @sagmeisterwalshFlaunt
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jessica_walsh
Jessica
Walsh

Seek out studios or creatives you’ve always admired, and figure out a way to work or learn from them.

Jessica Walsh @jessicawalshSagmeister & Walsh
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Patric King
Patric
King

I feel like I have about an hour of attention to give. Anything more than that brings us into the long-meeting zone, and I start to wonder if my clients are calling.

Patric King @patrickingFlaunt
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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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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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