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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.

daxjustin_2
Dax
Justin
Be unexpected.
Lead with confidence, care and passion.
Dax Justin @daxjustin
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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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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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tsh_shaz
Shaz
Sedigh
-
zadeh

Proudly display your personal projects and experiments that aren’t tied to “9-5  paycheck” work.  It tells the reader a lot about your real passions.  If you don’t have any to display yet, start now.

Shaz Sedigh - zadeh @shaz
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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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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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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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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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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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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria
Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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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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Jeremy Wisecup
Jeremy
Wisecup

Create something for yourself, by yourself. It shows craftsmanship—an ability to create something from a blueprint. If well-executed, it will land you a job. After all, it worked for me.

Jeremy Wisecup
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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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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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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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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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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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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

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

 

 

Dax Justin @daxjustin
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Sam Becker
Sam
Becker

The best portfolios can be consumed quickly; they allow the work to speak for itself. In my opinion, it is the best way to gauge a designer’s type and layout skills, because, presumably, they created their portfolio without the benefit of a design director.

Sam Becker @sambeckerdesignFlaunt
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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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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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Stephanie
Landes
Burris

Treat your resume as if it were the first piece of work in your portfolio. It should reflect your style and showcase your ability to generate great ideas.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Shawn Smith – "Shawnimals"
Shawn
Smith

Be succinct, use proper grammar, and triple check your spelling.

Shawn Smith @shawnsmith
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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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Armin Vit
Armin
Vit

Don’t lie.

Don’t make it ugly.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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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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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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Patric King
Patric
King

I hate “create an identity for a fake company” projects. I also don’t want to see exploratory pages, wherein you examine how you put a single page of type together in black and white.

I want to see projects that tell me who you are as a designer, and I want you to reinforce it again and again.

Patric King @patricking
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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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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria
Pater

Only show work you like, or you’ll end up being hired to do things you don’t like.

 

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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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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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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