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As A Designer You’re A Master Of The Shopfront – But What About Your Own?

23 May 11:00 By Lee Renfree

Creative industry

You work in the commercial side of the creative industry. Your job is to use your talents to make your clients’ products or services appear as brilliant as they are. Unmissably brilliant.


One day, you see a job ad. You make a call. 

“Oh, hi. I’d like to apply for the role you have advertised…”

“Great!” says the person offering the job, someone you’ve never met before. “Send me your resume and folio.”

You do that. 

You hear nothing. 

Sad face, then angry face.

“What happened?” you ask yourself. “Don't they know how good I am?” 

The answer:  probably not. 



Well, you know that old saying about dentists having unusually bad teeth? In my experience, we creative and marketing people are possibly the worst at blowing our own professional trumpet.

We get hired to promote and showcase others’ work – to create a beautiful ‘shopfront’ – and yet so often when it comes time to create a shopfront of our own – even on a much smaller scale – we’re found wanting.

Is it because we pour all our creative energies into our work and have little left when the moment arrives to ‘sell ourselves’? Is it because we lack that crucial distance from ourselves that we have with clients? Is it an inability to put ourselves in the shoes of the person doing the hiring? 

Let’s look at this scenario from the other side of the phone call. 

You pick up the phone and an applicant – someone you’ve never heard of – tells you they’d like to apply for your role. 

“Great!” you say, trying to sound as enthused as the first time. “Send me your resume and folio.”

That’ll be another email in a folder brimming with applications. You need to hire someone pronto. There's a new business pitch due Friday. Oh, and it's Annabelle's ballet concert on Wednesday and you have to leave early that afternoon. Your creative brief is due to be presented to the client this afternoon and the quarterly forecast is due on Thursday. 

Yes, hiring is always done by very busy people. 

So, back to you, the applicant. Your job application needs to stand out. You need to make it easy to hire you. 

If you are a writer, put your skills on display and tell a story about yourself that the reader will remember. No fluff, no templates, no clichés and definitely no spelling or grammatical errors. That may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many competent writers leave simple mistakes in their cover letters and CVs. 

If you are a new business developer, then puff out your chest and crow about you successes. We are not talking essays here.


Be quick. Be factual. Be punchy.


If you are a designer, show only relevant work in the most attractive way possible. If you’re going for a job where you’ll be designing for children’s toy packaging, probably best not to demonstrate the work you’ve done for staid accountancy firm annual reports.  

And no matter what creative field you belong to, use the latest technology available to you to present your folio crisply and beautifully.

The aids you have to make an impact are the tools of your trade; if you can use them, then for heaven’s sake show someone who cares and needs to know. And treat yourself as if you’re your own client. 

Remember too that your shopfront is not just your CV and your folio. It is your Linked in profile, your business card, your micro site and how you present yourself. When you get that long-awaited interview, think of it as speed dating. Dress for the occasion, prepare your story of who you are and why you should be the one. Give them reasons to take you on. 

But above all, make sure your shopfront is remembered.

Contact Lee Renfree on 0421 660 395 or