The portfolio of the creative professional is the most important tool for getting you an interview. Sure, there are other factors, but your folio's ‘wow factor’ has never been more important than now in today's highly competitive job market. Designers, whether print or web-based, get rejected for interviews more often than not because their portfolio of work simply doesn’t nail the role the hiring manager is trying to fill.
For example, I had a seriously talented designer knocked back this week purely based on the fact that his website, where he chose to present his work, wasn’t making use of current trends, had a whole bunch of work which was irrelevant to the hiring manager, and didn’t have any content explaining which elements he had designed. Fair enough I said. Time poor he said. I get it, I said, but now you’re out of work. Silence.
Here are my top 10 tips for nailing your portfolio to increase your chance of getting an interview:
1. Identify the type of work you might be asked to produce when you get the job and highlight it in your folio.
Show the hiring manager what they want to see by picking your best, and most relevant work, and display this in the first couple of pages. For example, if the role is to produce annual reports, tenders and other corporate marketing material, then present the collateral you’ve produced in these areas.
2. Split your folio into industries and genres.
If you’re a Designer who has worked across multiple industries, it can be a good idea to split your folio into sections such as advertising, corporate & government, design studio, digital studio. If your experience is in both print and digital, consider having a separate page for each. By categorising your work, you are giving the hiring manager the ability to focus on what’s relevant to them.
3. Use current technology to present your folio.
The availability of folio templates has made it easier than ever to present your folio in a professional manner. Do your research and find the folio template that you feel is, not only the easiest to navigate, it gives your folio the 'wow factor'. It might take you a week of evenings to get it right, but those who do, rarely miss out on being considered for jobs.
4. Only use a link to your website if it nails the skill set the hiring manager is looking for.
Many designers have a link to a website, or a third party folio site, to showcase their work. As mentioned above though, if you’re presenting your skills in a generalist fashion, the hiring manager may not see what they’re looking for and move on to the next person.
5. Within each page, be sure to write a short PAR.
If you know what the hiring manager is most likely looking for, new ideas or a certain result perhaps, then highlight this on your folio. You do this by including a box of text on each page describing the Project brief, the Actions/elements you produced, and the end Result.
For more information on PAR’s, click here.
6. Ensure that the latest in digital trends is applied to your online folio.
This is, of course, a critical element if you’re a designer in the digital/web space. There is no excuse, not one, which justifies an online folio that isn’t making use of current industry trends. The user experience, the user interface, the quality of pixels, the pages displayed – every area will be judged.
7. Ask someone you trust to read any written content to make sure there are no spelling errors.
Attention to detail is important to every hiring manager because mistakes cost money. I’ve seen way too many people be rejected for an interview because of a spelling or grammar mistake in their resume or folio. Check it, check it again and then have someone you trust check it one more time!
8. Take a moment to update your LinkedIn photo with a professional image.
You will be judged by your LinkedIn profile picture! So, make sure you’re looking and smiling into the camera and dressed appropriately for the job you want.
For more tips on this subject click here.
9. Broken URL links.
Broken links are guaranteed to keep you unemployed. If you’re on the market, check your links daily to make sure they’re working. A hiring manager will most likely not have the time to tell you so, they’ll just move on to the next person. Checking your links and making sure your folio is always up to date is an important part of your job hunting process.
10. Show some self-initiated work.
Personal work can represent the side of your skill set that you’re yet to use on a professional level. Not every hiring manager is looking for the same style of design as they themselves have. Sometimes they’re looking for a designer to put a new twist in the mix for their clients so, include your best personal work towards the end of your folio or on a separate page in an online folio.
If you’re a recent graduate Designer there are more tips for you here.
For print designers, a well put together and thought out PDF is still acceptable, however categorising your work in an easy to navigate website is a definite trend and well worth exploring.
Yes, it can be time-consuming but if it nails you an interview, isn’t it worth it?
Have a great day!
Director – Creative Recruiters
m: +61 413 453 563
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