We all think we have the perfect portfolio. It is because we’re designers, we can do no wrong (sarcasm). But yet, we keep getting over looked for jobs and perhaps falling at the last crucial interview stage - this is a handy little list of ways to make your portfolio suck, if you can tick any of these then perhaps it is time to revisit your dreaded portfolio!
Only having an online portfolio:
In this day and age, everyone has access to the internet (well my nana doesn’t but I don’t think she’s hiring any designers soon…) so we all put a beautifully crafted online portfolio up there for the world to see. Excellent. However, this is the only way a hiring manager/director can see your work. This becomes a problem when they ask to see some of the printed work you have done….you can prod and poke at a screen all you want, but having the tactile nature of something you have had printed can tell a hiring firm more about you. Such as; can you set work for print? Can you spot any little errors? Most design companies want to see a physical example of your portfolio in addition to an online presence, with most liking a bound style book.
Work from 1999….
Try not to include items that are dated within your portfolio - yes your lecturer did like that logo you did for Cardiff Airport in a project 10 years ago but does it really reflect the type of designer you are now? Only include older examples of work if they are from a high profile client or campaign you worked on. Usually it is better to keep your portfolio fresh, only including examples from the last two - three years.
You’re here for the editorial job?
If you are going to be showing your portfolio to a company that does require specific skills, then it is more than wise to show them your proficiency in that specific skill by having examples in your portfolio. If you interviewing for a job with a specific type of work in mind, it is best to put those examples nearer the front of your portfolio, if it is for a more general position, then make sure you have a diverse range of examples.
You didn’t even say goodbye……
Don’t just up and leave from an interview and remove all trace of yourself from the room. Leave them a little something behind! Whether it be a postcard with your work and details on, a concise portfolio, or a teddy bear clutching a ‘hire me’ sign on - designers usually have a good sense of humour, but more importantly we’re like magpies - we want to collect as much cool looking stuff as possible! Remember this and chances are they will remember you!
Here are the nine volumes on my creative life….
We can all be guilty of loving all our work too much - and sometimes we do need to be reminded ‘do you really need to put that in?’
Be selective with your portfolio and don’t just put every bit of work in there, usually a dozen good quality pieces will say much more about your personality and design style than 300 pieces of everything! Less in this case is usually much much more!
My dog ate my portfolio…
Turning up with a dog eared and un-cared for portfolio is something no prospective designer should do. You want to show your work off in the best way imaginable. Don’t cram thick pieces in, keep them separate and ask yourself - do you really need to take it along? Make sure your portfolio is neat, tidy and in order.
I put the logo on that book……no sir, I did not design the logo…..
In your book or portfolio case or whatever, clearly distinguish what input you have had on each project you’re showcasing. If you were given the task of putting someone elses logo onto someone elses layout, for you to send to print, it would be hard to carry that off as ‘your work’. However if you were simply using it as an example of how you have collated ideas together and then liased with a printer to get it printed, and clearly stated that, then it is of relevance.
No sir, you cannot find me on the internet…..
Look, lets be honest here, it is 2012, you are a designer wanting to work in an industry that moves at the speed of light, people need access to information yesterday, it is your responsibility to have an online portfolio. Of course when you turn up for an interview the guys want to see a physical portfolio, but being able to just check out a concise range of work online is really convenient to flick through and get a feel for who is turning up. Make sure it looks good though, if you’ve used comic sans as your header, chances are you wont get a call…..(unless its from the asylum….)
10% of 489mb - 3 hours remaining…..
Finally, if your online portfolio is huge, because you’ve neglected to utilise sufficient image optimisation etc, it is going to take people a while to download. I have been asked in the past to check portfolios and they literally have been almost 1gb downloads. With Adobe creative suite at your fingertips it is really time you took the time to do things properly.
We are all impatient devils, and i’ve been known to throw things when that little rainbow wheel appears for more than 5 seconds - take this into consideration when emailing your portfolio, if you have to use a dropbox, then it is too big!
Just remember, your portfolio isn’t a static document, it should be constantly being updated and revised to reflect how you are growing as a designer. Spending to accumulate is also something to think about here, you are investing in your future to have a well printed, well presented portfolio - you never know, your life may just depend on it!