Everyone knows it’s a pretty tough job market right now. There is more competition for fewer positions and many new grads are even opting to work for free to get some experience. We get alot of resumes and portfolios and I am shocked to see that so many young designers are making simple mistakes when it comes to portfolio submission. Below is an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to a very persistent candidate on how they could improve their submission:
The key to a good portfolio is editing. It is far better to show a total of ten slides that are great than 60 slides that are of varying quality. In one folder there is a finish board that consists of a really poor photograph. Given your skill set, a finish board really needs to be mounted properly and photographed well. This can also be done in the computer by scanning textiles and carpets and assembling everything digitally.
You also want to arrange a portfolio in an order like a slideshow. PDF is the best way to do this. Send one PDF with your best images in the order you want them seen. You can have them chronologically if you think it shows a progression of skill, but I would recommend showing your latest and best work only. Most employers are not going to care that you did well in a fundamentals class or a first year assignment.
Finally, your portfolio has to have a definitive style to it. You are going after a design position after all. Generate some sort of background sheet or title block that represents you as a designer. Then you can take all of your older images and put them on a new fresh title block that shows a cohesive look from the first sheet to the last. When we do presentations for clients, we design each sheet from beginning to end. You will need to do this as well to demonstrate that you can think at a professional level and not just at an academic level. As you know, the job market is very competitive and employers are looking for the candidates who can demonstrate that they will be able to ‘hit the ground running’. A good portfolio will give an employer immediate confidence in one’s ability and lead to more application responses.