Ask a Recruiter...
Here at Gabriele we get hundreds of portfolios per week ranging from the jaw dropping (in a good way) to the jaw dropping (in the not so good way); so it's fair to say we’ve become quite the portfolio pros. Not least Petra our Creative Consultant who helps freelancers hone their books before matching them with their perfect role.
Whilst there’s no one way to put together a portfolio, there are a few golden rules and theories you can follow to ensure you excite, impress and demonstrate how you and your work will be an invaluable asset to the viewer, whether that be as a full time member of staff or on a freelance basis.
We’ve picked Petra’s brain to bring you 5 tips on getting your CV and folio to the top of the pile.
1. It's all in the detail
Let's be honest, most who get their hands on your portfolio will be quickly skimming through it. You want them to stop and take a genuine interest, and the best way to do that is to spend time refining its design; making sure it's distinctive, memorable and reflective of who you are personally.
Try to make the design of your portfolio strong without it overpowering the work you’re showcasing.
Aim to showcase precision both in your work and in the presentation of it. Pay attention to small details such as spelling and grammar, composition, typset and colour, as attention to detail is a key skill for a designer to have.
2. Be yourself
Showcase that you’re enterprising by adding some self-initiated work to the mix; work you’ve done for friends or just for fun that shows your proficiencies. Employers like designers who are versatile, so this is an especially good idea if you’re a graduate with very few projects under your belt as it’ll help prove you’re familiar with an array of design fundamentals.
Self -initiated work can say way more about your personality and interests than a conventional commercial project ever could
Cherry pick the work that shows off just how multi-faceted and amazing you are, even work that didn’t run can be included if you feel they are the projects that best describe you.
3. Become a story teller
You won’t be around to provide audio description whilst your portfolio is first flicked through, therefore the key question to ask yourself when compiling it is: “How well is my thought process being translated?”.
Even Creative Directors can get complacent and fall into the trap of displaying their work without explanation, believing the viewer will just “get” their thought process. But this can easily lead to your potential new employer quickly disengaging.
You don’t have to write full paragraphs about each project (keep the copy for your CV); but to make your portfolio as easy to understand as possible its best to put it into chronological order. Show the reader your work process: how you took the brief and made it your own.
Its also a great idea to use photography that shows how the final product lives in real life – if it is a psychical product of course.. This is a great way to end it each section.
4. Size doesn’t matter
In the age of WeTransfer there’s no need to cram all your work onto as few pages as possible to minimize on file size.
Spread your work out if that’s what it takes to showcase it to the best of its ability.
Its unlikely that it two different projects will look good presented on the same page so avoid doing that, instead focus on what looks best visually and let page numbers be an afterthought.
Ideal folio size is 6 or 7 campaigns, enough to truly get a sense of your diverse abilities.
If size is still an issue there’s no harm in leaving a few aspects of each project out of your PDF portfolio but including it in the hard copy that you take along to interviews. This’ll give you more to talk about and a chance to further explain your thought process.
5. Stay specific
If you do want to keep things short and sweet but have a few different disciplines up your sleeve it’s probably best to create a couple different folio’s that will allow you to showcase the strengths that are specific to the role you’re applying for.
A packaging design agency won’t be interested in viewing property design work no matter how stunning; and if they’re made to flick through work that’s irrelevant to them, chances are your portfolio will be put down before they even reach the relevant pages.