Hopefully from reading this blog you’ve already learned How to Boost Your Portfolio (from London’s hottest creatives) and How to Make Your Digital Portfolio Great (by BBDO’s Creative Director Tim Brunelle).
Now it’s time to nail that portfolio review!
Luckily for you, author Nick Rojas just tackled this issue in his post over at Vandelay Design.
We’ll summarize the article’s stand out points—throwing in our own two cents, of course. After years of reviewing portfolios, we just couldn’t help ourselves.
Get Hyper Organized
This is your time to sell yourself, don’t under think how you lay out your portfolio. Keep your best pieces at the front and at the end, the weakest in the middle. Of course by “weak” we really mean, “not as strong”. If your portfolio contains any truly weak pieces, get rid of them. The risk of ruining your interview is too great. When putting together your portfolio you should always be thinking quality over quantity.
Get a Second (Third, Fourth, and Fifth) Opinion
Just as with your resume, you need to bring in a fresh set of eyes. When your friend/peer/roommate comments on your layout, don’t defend your decisions, just hear them out. They’re not being rude, they’re telling you what they see—and what they don’t. Plus, you asked for their opinion!
Demonstrate Your Process
Show how you conquered creative obstacles. Illustrate how your designs are based on function and fact-based choices, rather than personal preference. Back that all up with anything that illustrates how you made decisions along the way: sketches, moodboards, UX wireframes, etc.
Include a Case Study
Show the reviewer how you helped reach a client’s marketing goals by bringing in a case study or two. If you’re struggling with incorporating those into your design story, take a look at this Crayola case study by Dan Mall. He frames it as, “one of the most ambitious and rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on at Big Spaceship—or anywhere else for that matter.”
Make sure to include all your types of work: digital, print, logos, brochures, branding, plus any projects you think demonstrate your ability to stretch your design muscles to varied styles and deliverables. Feel free to include pro bono work or personal work, if you feel they show your range and stand on their own. There’s a rule of thumb that says to only include designs done within the last three or four years. If you have pieces from outside that timeframe, consider whether or not it will leave a bad impression on your reviewer.
We always advise that you customize your resume when you apply for a position, the same goes for your portfolio. If you have an in person interview with a toy company and also with a pharmaceutical company, you’ll want to consider what work each audience will want to see and how they’d like to see it presented.
Expect WiFi Drought
You should never count on an Internet or mobile connection when you go into an interview. There’s nothing worse than counting on that connection and having it fail when you’re in the middle of an important interview, so plan on being without it. Create PDFs and bring a presentation laid out on a tablet.