This advice is mainly helpful if you’re a graphic designer or a visualiser.
1. PDF files should be your best friends
For a start both your CV and portfolio should be PDF’s, I know this seems like a no brainer for most people, but we still see the odd Word document slip through every now and then.
2. Typos are a no-no
I know a lot of creatives are dyslexic. (I’m dyslexic myself.) But you really need to double check, triple check, then check again for any typos or grammatical mistakes. Clients see this as a lack of attention to detail and some of them can be quite unforgiving.
3. Demo your design skills and brand yourself
You are the boss of branding, right? Well then pay attention to how you brand yourself. Don’t walk around like a cobbler with bad shoes. Practice what you preach. Don’t throw loads of random patterns all around the boarder of your CV or portfolio, unless it’s for a genuine reason. Less is more. Always.
4. And make sure that brand is consistent
Consistency is key, use the same typefaces and colour scheme you’ve used for your CV when designing your portfolio. Package yourself up. Make it exquisite or bold or colourful or monochrome. Whatever you decide, just make it reflect you.
5. Prioritise the info your employer wants to see
Information on your CV employers care about the most.
- A) Which agencies or brands you’ve worked for.
- B) Which University you’ve studied at and if you have a degree in Graphic Design (more important for some employers than others.)
- C) Software skills, AdobeCS is a given but what about After Effects, Premier Pro, WordPress, Java Script, HTML etc
- D) Your Bio. Try not to be generic with the whole “I knew I loved design because when I was 5.. I liked to draw/shove Lego up my nose” line, because everyone writes things like that. Be original.
6. Tell a story with your creative work
A strong portfolio has a good narrative. Don’t squash your imagery in one page, let it breathe. Have it pixel perfect. Photograph your work beautifully, show the details. You’re presenting to creatives who love design as much as you do.
Agencies like Design Bridge pour a labour of love, sweat and tears into the book they produce every year and they expect that level of care, pride and attention to detail from the creatives portfolios and CV’s that they receive too.
7. Be prepared to be judged portfolio-first
Remember, you are only as good as your portfolio. 99% of employers take a look at portfolios before they even check out CV’s. The beauty of being a designer is you can unlock doors of any agency you’d like to work for, if your portfolio is on point.
Think of it like a sort of industry key, diversify it, craft it, make it like a skeleton key if you like, open every agency door you dream of. Go for it!
8. Make your creative contributions clear (and concise)
Be specific about what you worked on with each project. Some creatives portfolios can seem misleading about what their involvement was on big branding projects.
The CD that worked on it with you at the time might be reviewing your application at your next company thinking.. “Hang on a minute, they didn’t create that whole concept like their portfolio is implying, they retouched the logo at the end.”
Be clear in minimal text about your involvement. Future potential employers will appreciate and respect your honesty.
9. Get outside opinions
Once you’re happy with it, ask your friends or people like me to take a look at it for you. We can give you advice with a fresh set of eyes. But most importantly, you’re a visual communicator, so communicate. Be really fussy about what you let out the door that has your name attached to it. Make sure you’re proud of it. Attention to detail is what will always set you apart.
10. Back that PDF with a portfolio website
PDF’s are good for a taster of your work, they can be useful for the “best bits” to show to an agency you want to impress, websites are great places to host all of your work. With a PDF you can create order and narrative, with a website you never know which project hiring managers will click on, it might be your strongest work or it might not. Having both is the ideal situation, especially if you’re a freelancer. But you can have one or the other.
Want to know more? We currently have 20% off all of our CV, Portfolio, Cover Letter and Freelance Guides on our website! https://www.graphicdesignjobs.co.uk/guides