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Communications Design Industry Discussion, Inspiration, & Tutorials

Dec 10, 2012

The Portfolio: Not Just for Creatives Anymore

My buddy, Barbara*, works in marketing and does a lot of media writing. This year she gave a riveting AIGA talk about interviewing with a portfolio when not in the creative arts field. Today, a great article on Idealist.org loudly seconded her sentiment. It's good enough to share.

According to Barb and Idealist every professional should arrive at an interview with a portfolio in-hand; "we do more than just our job description" and a portfolio book is an excellent way to show it. A professional portfolio--or leave behind--gives the potential employer a great idea of our skills, abilities and range. It's also pretty impressive!

How Does it Look? This simplest presentation of your leave-behind is a spiral-bound book separated by tabs. These can be printed and bound, in quantity, at retail copy shops or by yourself if you have a spiral binder at hand). Be sure to select  a heavy weight paper and substantial cover stock. Spiral-bound books are not the only option. This publication can also be a highly polished design piece that profiles your creative skill as well. If you choose to go in this direction consider hiring a graphic design student, freelancer, or recent grad to help layout / design a polished look.

Here are a few examples of print portfolio books:

What Does it Contain? Your portfolio is a great supplement to the interview conversation. As you speak about your projects, accomplishments, or accolades, refer to the samples that you have in-hand. Here are Barbara's suggestions for basic content for this book:
  • Your resume or Curriculum Vitae
  • Listed technical skills, software, and hardware
  • Printed samples of your work or projects on which you've worked--with descriptions of the project, your role on the project, and other pertinent information
  • Writing Samples - if you have relevant, well-written pieces; include 2-3 samples of technical writing, public relations, media or editorial writing
  • Kudos and accolades on your work or performance from colleagues or employers

Why Not Go Digital? If making a print portfolio is outside of your means and expertise, create an online portfolio. There are several free sites that offer open formats for you to showcase a variety of projects. An online portfolio gives potential employers a look at your scope of skill, and also makes you look very web-savvy; this is more important across all industries. In addition to portfolio sites like: Behance, CarbonMade, Jobrary.com there are several blog format sites that allow for maximum flexibility; like Blogger, Wordpress, or Tumblr.

*her name isn't really Barbara.

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