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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.

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_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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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Kill it. No mediocre bullshit. Ever.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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Steve Liska
Steve
Liska

We look for thoughtful ideas and problem-solving abilities. Then we look for breadth of visual styles, project types, mediums, and good typography.

Steve Liska @LiskaDesignFlaunt
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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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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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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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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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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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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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bburwell_Tsh
Brett
Burwell

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

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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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

While your job at an electronics store is just fine, it doesn’t need to be on your resume.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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Armin Vit
Armin
Vit

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

Armin Vit @arminvit
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Petrula Vrontikis
Petrula
Vrontikis

Not doing enough research about your reviewers. Knowing more about the person looking at your work will help stimulate and guide the conversation. And when you haven’t asked enough questions after the person has looked at the work—this is a missed opportunity to gain valuable insights.

Petrula Vrontikis Flaunt
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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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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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cartogram-matt
Matthew
Seccafien
Passion for what you do and eagerness to be involved in the community are important, but so is self-awareness.
Matthew Seccafien @studiocartogram
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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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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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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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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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Gail Anderson
Gail
Anderson

Don’t overwhelm the interviewer with too much work. If you’re good, it’ll be evident in ten to fifteen pieces.

Gail Anderson @GailAndersonNYFlaunt
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Josh-Berta
Josh
Berta

Write a cover letter that actually describes how your experience is relevant to the place you’re applying. Be concise but specific. When it comes to setting up an interview, make yourself available, but not too available. It doesn’t hurt to schedule multiple interviews on one day, and to let your interviewers know that (in the most unassuming way). Look like you’re in demand, even if it’s more illusion than reality. During an interview, follow their lead. Don’t launch into a diatribe if they just want to scan your book quietly and then talk about it afterward. This is partly intuited, but you can also just ask what they prefer to do if it’s not apparent. Lastly, post-interview, send an email thanking them for their time and consideration.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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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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bburwell_Tsh
Brett
Burwell

Don’t forget that the interview process goes both ways. Finding a work environment that suits your skill set and personality will be critical to your professional development and overall happiness as a human being.

Brett Burwell @ThisIsStatic
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shelby_white
Shelby
White

What connects with people, is you connecting with yourself.

Shelby White @ShelbyWhiteDesignspiration
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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria
Pater

As much as your résumé is a summary of your experience, it can also act as a summary of your personality. Write the way you would talk about those experiences.

Include things that make you unique, or be witty — if that’s your thing.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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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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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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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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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Apply intelligently. There are no sure-things when it comes to getting a job, but everything you do RIGHT, puts you ahead of someone who did something WRONG.

You have 10 seconds to make a killer impression. Apply intelligently and don’t get weeded out for the wrong reasons.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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ryan-essmaker
Ryan
Essmaker

Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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Josh-Berta
Josh
Berta

Don’t lie. I’m not even a fan of exaggerating or glossing over potential shortcomings. It’s ok to talk about challenging circumstances you’ve had with clients, bosses, or teachers, as long as you’re fair and truthful. Present them as learning experiences, and explain how that knowledge now informs your choices as a designer, an employee and what you believe will be a good fit with an employer.

Josh Berta @prttyshtty
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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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Adrian Shaughnessy
Adrian
Shaughnessy

I don’t mind seeing one or two examples of personal work; though I’d much rather see how a young designer tackles an identity for a local dentist, or something equally mundane.

How designers design the everyday is a good measure of their ability. Anyone can makea gig poster look good .

Adrian Shaughnessy @AJWShaughnessyFlaunt
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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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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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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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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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