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Resume & Portfolio 101

I’ve had the… I wouldn’t say pleasure, but opportunity to search out a great deal of web artists for positions in the past year and I have to say that the number of poor resumes and portfolios was astounding. I am very surprised that this is the case – even from people who have quite a bit of experience at Fortune 500 companies. With this in mind, I’m going to give a few pointers on what to do and what not to do in your resume and portfolio, if you are a designer.

DO:

  1. Have a portfolio web site, or a list of sites that you have worked on. If you don’t have one, build one – it isn’t hard or cost much. You can get hosting for $5/month, and at some places, domains as little as $10/year.
  2. Include a link to your portfolio on your cover letter, initial submission and resume. Hiring managers do not have the time to try and search you out using a search engine or to contact you to only find out you don’t even have a web site/portfolio. This is my biggest complaint. I’ve had resumes with only the person’s email address giving me a hint of a portfolio, such as “john@johndoedesigns.com“, so I type “johndoedesigns.com” and discover a portfolio that was never listed.
  3. Show lots of examples of your work. If you have years of experience, show years of work. Don’t show 3 designs, when you say you’ve been working in the industry for 7 years. That tells the hiring manager you don’t really work or that you’re slow.
  4. Fax or Fedex a hard copy of your resume and portfolio to the company/HR, or talk with someone in the company that you know or someone knows. Credibility helps.
  5. Learn a bit about the job before you apply as well as the company you are applying for. All too many times I’ve had people have no idea what division or position they were applying for and were confusing our products/services with another division’s.
  6. Describe your education, your skills (with level or years), your work experience.
  7. Use a standard template/layout for resumes – hiring managers are familiar with them, and even if they are ugly, they are straight to the point. Definitely pretty it up, but don’t get too fancy.
  8. Be proactive and show some sample designs of artwork for the company you are applying for, to show your interest.

DO NOT:

  1. Say “Portfolio available upon request”. If you are submitting your resume, it’s a given that the hiring manager wants to see your portfolio. Don’t waste their time with bait.
  2. Apply for a position if you know you aren’t qualified. It’s a waste of everyone’s time.
  3. Get too creative with link names on your site by calling “Portfolio” or “My work” something completely different, such as “Visions” or “Explore”.
  4. Apply for too many different types of positions at the same company. This flags you as being desperate and many systems can track what you’ve applied for. If you’ve applied for Director, QA, CS, Programmer, Marketing, Admin Assistant, you can tell this person has no idea what they want to do.
  5. Get too fancy with your resume. A difficult to read resume means it’s going to take longer to try to read for initial review. When hiring managers are looking through resumes, they only look for a few things at first: portfolio and skills, then experience. After that, they read it in full if they are interested. Don’t waste their time or get yourself eliminated in the review process.
  6. Use PDFs. Some people like PDFs, I do not – they are too slow and there are too many compatibility issues. Use a word document.
  7. Apply for a position without a portfolio or example work. If you don’t have anything to show – experiment by creating examples for them.

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This list will continue to grow. Stay tuned for a “Good interview 101″ ;). Best, Jacob.

// Jacob