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The Do’s and Don’ts of a Successful Portfolio - Part I

portfolio-halfThe Basics
At long last you’ve landed a job interview at a design firm. You’re excited, nervous, and worried all at the same time. You realize that part of the interview process hinges on presenting a strong portfolio. But where do you begin?

You’ve got lots of examples from projects while going to your graphic design college and some other pieces of work from paid assignments. Which examples are appropriate and which ones are not?

In this article we’ll present some “do’s and don’ts” advice on how to assemble a portfolio that will catch the attention of prospective employers.

kitchen-sinkDon’t Throw In the Kitchen Sink
One of the most common mistakes in assembling a portfolio is trying to include too many examples — or in other words, throwing in the kitchen sink.

Your job interviewer wants to see a professional and concise portfolio that will highlight your talent, skills, and abilities and show what you are capable of. The interviewer doesn’t want to sift through tons of your work to get to the relevant examples.
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man-and-magnifying-glassDo Gear Your Portfolio to the Design Firm’s Area of Expertise
Don’t think of your portfolio as being static. Of course it’s easier to put together a generic one that can be presented to any employer, but you’ll be losing a valuable edge by not gearing your portfolio specifically to the needs of your possible employer.

If the hiring design firm is heavily focused on corporate design, your portfolio should try to represent more of this type of design work. If the company you are applying for is involved in packaging design, your work should emphasize this aspect of your work.

If you can’t get a bead on what the company’s main emphasis is, do your best to put together a well-balanced portfolio that displays your creativity and flexibility. Don’t forget about your completed assignments from graphic design school; they should provide many examples for your portfolio.

abc-blocks-with-borderDon’t Show Mediocre Work
There is a tendency by some job seekers to stuff their portfolios with work that is obviously not up-to-par. Why is this? They may have a lack of material to show so they reason that including anything is better than having a small representation of what they are capable of.

This could not be farther from the truth.

By including mediocre examples of your work you are advertising your lack of skills. You may not have a lot of examples to show, but displaying any work that is less than excellent isn’t the way to win the job interviewer over.

blue-ribbon-awardDo Display Your Best Work
This is where you have to be brutally honest about your work. There will be projects that have great sentimental value to you. Perhaps it was the challenge that made a particular project a favorite of yours or maybe there is a great story in how you came up with the design idea. This all may be true, but if the design or artwork isn’t topnotch, it doesn’t’ belong in your portfolio.

Next Time…
We’ll continue with more hints, tips, and advice on assembling a successful portfolio. Until then, keep on designing!

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2 Comments

  1. Posted July 16, 2010 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Bravo, very good idea

  2. Posted October 20, 2010 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Great blog! I genuinely love how it is easy on my eyes as well as the details are well written. I am wondering how I can be notified whenever a new post has been made. I have subscribed to your rss feed which need to do the trick! Have a nice day!

One Trackback

  1. By Tips for Presenting Your Portfolio on February 11, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    [...] still designing your portfolio, check out “The Dos and Don’ts of a Successful Portfolio,” Part I and Part II.) Once you have your portfolio prepared, let these tips help you feel confident in the [...]

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