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Viewing: Resume Application Process Portfolio
03/26:  Student Spotlight – Michael Spizziri

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.

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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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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victoriapater_Tsh
Victoria
Pater

Never exceed 1 page.

Victoria Pater @typeis4lovers
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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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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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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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Armin Vit
Armin
Vit

Don’t lie.

Don’t make it ugly.

Armin Vit @arminvit
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Jason Schwartz
Jason
Schwartz

Have a personality and a perspective.

Jason Schwartz @jaycrimesBright Bright Great
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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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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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Adrian Shaughnessy
Adrian
Shaughnessy

Neatness. Attention to detail. Lack of waffling. Good ideas. Good execution. Personality. Really, when I think about it, I’m often more interested in the designer sitting in front of me than their work.

Adrian Shaughnessy @AJWShaughnessyFlaunt
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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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Lotta Niemenen_900
Lotta
Nieminen

Don’t overlook the power of well executed presentation. Put time and effort into figuring out the best way to document your projects.

Lotta Nieminen @lottanieminen
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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

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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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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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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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_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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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 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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Bud
Rodecker

Don’t let your résumé run past a single page. No typos. Don’t listen to what they may have told you in your ‘Resume’s for Business Class.’

Bud Rodecker @budrodecker
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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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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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Michael Johnson
Michael
Johnson

Ideas, followed by great ideas, and yet more great ideas hot on their heels. We can teach people how to use design software—it seems much harder to teach people how to have ideas.

Michael Johnson 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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Lotta Niemenen_900
Lotta
Nieminen

Self-belief is key.

Be proud of your own work and be prepared to tell others why. I think confidence and interest in your own field are crucial – you need to love your work for others to love it too.

Learning how to argument your ideas is absolutely crucial with client work too: if you want to get your visions through with a client, you need to be able to tell them why.

Lotta Nieminen @lottanieminen
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Stefan Sagmeister
Stefan
Sagmeister

Your portfolio should be as varied as possible. We are a small company, so we all have a great amount of differing tasks to attend to. I am looking for the same varied qualities in the people I hire.

Stefan Sagmeister @sagmeisterwalshFlaunt
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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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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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ryan-essmaker
Ryan
Essmaker

Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Ryan Essmaker @ryanessmaker
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daxjustin_2
Dax
Justin
Be unexpected.
Lead with confidence, care and passion.
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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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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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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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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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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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

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

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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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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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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