How to make your portfolio pack a punch
19 FEB 2017

Published by Fiona Watson


How to make your portfolio pack a punch

Everyone knows sorting your portfolio out is a chore, but if you are thinking of looking for a new job, it's best to get this nailed first and foremost! It will save you a whole lot of time later down the line, trust us! So, to get you started, here are some important points for branding/graphic designers when putting a folio together:

  • Don't show work you're not proud of – if you don’t rate it, why would an interviewer?
  • Think about your format. Laptop is fine (though a clean Mac is preferable to a sticky PC). Print is also good – just make sure the quality is flawless and the edges are crumple free.
  • For permanent roles, aim to show around 6-8 projects max – for freelance, a few more. 
  • Tell the story of your projects visually – don't just show one image of the end-product.  Show your starting point, your rough concept work (some of it), how you developed that into the core design, and then how that design actually comes to life.
  • Always explain the brief to the interviewer -  explain your thought process.  For example, what kind of client is it for, what was the reason for a design/redesign, what was your rationale behind your design work, who is the target market, etc.
  • If you did a redesign of something that existed before, why not start with an image of the “before” at the start of the project – if the 'before' isn't great, it will only make your 'after' look even better!
  • It's a good idea to include one or two of the concepts for a project that the client didn’t choose, it gives perspective and will show your range.
  • Show the two projects that you feel are your very strongest first and last at interview – it is those that the interviewer is likely to remember best. Don't start with a bang and end with a damp squib.
  • Make your design work the hero. The less images on one page the better! No tiny images please, these don't pop visually.
  • For freelance designers – as freelancers are often chosen purely from the work on a pdf or website, without ever meeting the agency you’re going to work for until you start the freelance booking – show stories but show more of them.  So much freelance now is briefed as “we are rebranding a client in the financial sector – do you have a designer with branding in that sector also?” – so a good selection of work is important to show the variety of clients you’ve worked on.
  • For permanent roles, you might want to consider one short section of the folio which is about you having fun creatively – show some personal projects that you loved doing, or if you can illustrate show a couple of your illustrations, or photographs etc – something that shows who YOU are.  
  • Don’t put wedding invitations in as being one of your key work projects, unless they are the outstandingly good  – too many designers bulk up their content by putting in 2 or 3 sets of wedding invites they’ve done for their friends, creative directors won't buy it.
  • And finally, rehearse presenting your folio before you go to any interviews – if you do this all the way through a couple of times, you’ll find the reality of your first interview a bit less scary.

Keep your eyes peeled for more portfolio surgeries - sign up for our newsletter and follow us on social. If you are thinking about making a move and would like to talk to a consultant - give us a call, 020 3770 7711, we would love to hear from you!

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