Spring clean your portfolio – Top tips from the industry experts.

Interviewing creative candidates means that we generally get the opportunity to see lots of fabulous work and have a good old nosey through portfolios. As you can imagine we see plenty of them but one of the main questions we’re asked is is there anything I can do to improve it?”  So we’ve had a big think about the things we like/don’t like and also compiled feedback from our clients to share with you.

So, with that said – here are our top 10 tips to help enhance your work and give your portfolio that bit of extra sparkle should you feel you need it.

  1. Create a good first impression

One thing to remember is that first impressions DO count so walking in to your interview with a tatty old folio case that’s bursting at the seams and work spilling everywhere – might not be the slickest entrance you’ve made.

We’re not big fans of the standard, black zip-up cases either. You know the ones –horrible, smelly plastic sleeves that crinkle up and never stay put? And – they’re just not very original!

One may argue that the work inside is more important than what’s on the outside. Agreed. However, by making an extra effort to think about the way you put your work together and present it, can only help demonstrate your great attention to detail and pride in your work.

  1. Be unique

If you’re sticking to a printed option, designing and making your own book means you’ll have something totally unique. It also gives you the opportunity to show off your design skills on the outside of your portfolio as well as the inside. Just make sure the finish is spot on and the design doesn’t dominate your work inside.

  1. Sell yourself

You don’t have to launch straight in to your design work. If you include an intro page, this will give you the opportunity to tell the interviewer a little more about you – the things you love, what inspires you and what makes you tick.

Some people feel a little shy about being openly passionate about their work, but if you’ve got it flaunt it – this is the perfect opportunity for you to shine.

  1. Tell us a story

Make sure your work has a good flow and tells a story of your creative journey.

Using annotations throughout your portfolio are a great way to help if you suddenly have a memory block or run out of things to say. You can use them as a prompt.

You don’t need loads of information – but you could include design objectives, challenges, outcomes and also your involvement if you worked on a team project.

  1. Get branded

Creating your own unique brand identity is a great way to get you noticed.

Use your brand on your CV and on the cover page or interior pages of your portfolio but don’t over do it! You don’t want it to overshadow your work so keep it subtle and stylish.

  1. Keep it fresh

It’s essential to update your portfolio on a regular basis. Don’t just keep adding to older work.  Anything more than 3-years old can start to look dated so shouldn’t really be included.

  1. Size matters

It’s that six million dollar question: “How many pieces of work should I include in my portfolio?” There’s no hard and fast rule here but around 15-20 pieces should be sufficient. Much less and you might not be able to show the breadth of your work. Many more and you won’t have enough time to tell your interviewer why you’re the perfect person for the position.

  1. Be selective

Your portfolio should be carefully put together for each specific interview. One size doesn’t fit all!

The interviewer will want to see the breadth of your skills however your chosen pieces should to be relevant to the specific role you’ve applied for. Don’t fall in to the trap of including everything only to be told your skills aren’t specific enough!

  1. Work in progress

Scamps  and working drawings – we love ‘em – and more importantly so do our clients. Even if you’re no Leonardo, working drawings are a great way to demonstrate the creative thought process and your approach to design.

  1. Love it Share it!

If you don’t love it – don’t include it. There’s nothing worse than trying to present a piece of work that doesn’t float your boat. It’ll stick out like a sore thumb! We call it the ‘this is just’ syndrome. “This is just a logo I designed…” Sounds a bit like an apology.

There’s nothing better than listening to a passionate and energised presentation. It’ll be evident how much you enjoyed and loved working on a project, and are proud of it too. Last but not least – if you love it then make sure you share it on your social channels.

Author Director "Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will get you anywhere."