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Ask Lawrence: Top 5 Folio Mistakes That Are Costing You The Job

02 Nov 10:00 By Lawrence Akers

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When it comes to the creative industry, there is no greater and more powerful tool than the folio.

The whole purpose of the folio is to not only showcase the kind of work that you do but also the style of your design.

It’s meant to give the viewer a flavour of the graphic designer in question and, as you can imagine, the power that this holds mean that almost no application for a graphic design position should ever be sent without a folio accompanying it.

A lot has changed in the time that I’ve been a creative recruiter. Back when I first started, it wasn’t as easy to email through PDF’s of work and building your own website had it’s own limitations. People would rock up to their interviews with hefty giant black folders full of work and talk us through each piece and what they did to help this creation come into being.

Now, if you don’t have a PDF or online folio, you’re pretty much like that business that isn’t on page 1 of a Google search.

It is, after all, a visual industry - so why are you trying to explain what you do with just words?

Include a folio

The first rule, if you’re applying for a graphic design position, then include a folio. It’s a simple as that. If you don’t have a folio and you want to be a graphic designer, then you’re going to need to put one together ASAP.

You would be surprised by just how many applicants I have each and every day who do not include a folio of work. I kid you not, seriously, EVERY DAY there are at least a handful of applications for creative positions that have NO folio or examples of work for me to see. In some cases, their CV isn't even creatively designed - just some cut and paste job and often with incorrect soft returns and spelling mistakes. PASS!

Make sure your URL works

The other issue is when people send you a URL for an online folio and you click on it only to discover that it no longer exists or is incorrect. If you’re sending out something that has a URL on it, then make absolutely sure that it is working.

Clients are looking for people that have an attention to detail. What kind of impression do you think you’re going to make if they click to view your folio and it goes to a ‘Page Not Found’ error?

Coming Soon is too late

Carrying on from the previous point (thus not an additional point), people will also seemingly think a 'coming soon' landing page is acceptable as well.

This just says that you're not prepared to put in the time to do your folio and hope that your application is going to pass based on 'experience' alone.

If you were told all about this great company and you went to their website and saw a page that said 'Opps... Coming Soon! Sorry!', what would you think?

If people are looking for someone to fill a job NOW and you can't get your own timeframes right for your own marketing material, you're not doing yourself any favours.

Make it look good

I have to be honest, there are certain ‘free website’ services that I think just look tacky. They’re not likely to be putting your folio forward in the best light. Given how much other free website services have progressed in recent times, really consider the overall finished look and feel for your online folio.

Don’t make it password protected

I mean, seriously, why are you making it password protected? It’s not your bank account details. Are you afraid that people are going to steal something from you? Why are you making it harder for people to find you and potentially offer you work? I have to be honest, when I’m considering several applications at once and I’m suddenly faced with a password locked folio and no indication as to what the password is, I’ve closed them down because they’ve just made it too hard.

Instagram is not a folio

Lately I’ve seen a lot of people think that Instagram is ok as a folio. 

Let me assure you, it’s not. 

It comes across as being fairly lazy and just not taking it seriously.

If you’re not going to take your folio seriously, why the hell would anyone else?

PDF vs Website

I’m often asked if people need to do a PDF version if there is an online version, which I think is a valid question. I’d say that the PDF is going to be better at guiding the end-viewer to what you want them to see over a website however both of them are going to serve the purpose nicely as long as you’ve taken the time to consider what it is that they’re going to want to see to show them that you’re the right person for the job.

The simple fact is this; you need to take your folio seriously with how it can help you to gain work. If you’re viewing it as an after thought and hoping ’10 years of industry experience’ or some other lame excuse is going to land you a job, I can assure you that the clients I’ve worked with over the years won’t buy it. They want to SEE what you’ve done and only your folio can do that for them.