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By: Faye George and Bronwen Davison

[2 min read] As a creative the quality of your portfolio plays an essential role in determining the future of your career. It is a hiring manager’s first port of call (together with the CV) and is considered a direct reflection of the breadth of your experience, your output and your skills.

While a pdf is a convenient and effective format for your portfolio, many creatives choose to go the Behance route (or similar), or to create their own website, either using Wix or (if they want to showcase their fabulous digital skills) perhaps even building a site from scratch.

Either way, you should not just send a prospective employer a zipped file or a Dropbox link filled with random jpegs and pdfs of your work. That is not a portfolio. You need to reflect that you have given your portfolio proper thought and have taken the time to curate it accordingly. It’s about showing that you care about and take pride in your work.

  1. Think of your portfolio as an art gallery – Clutter-free and clean. Avoid busy backgrounds and themes that interfere with your work.
  2. Avoid over-the-top fonts – Keep it clean and simple.
  3. Create hyperlinks for email and web addresses where necessary. The hiring manager should not have to type these out because you didn’t think to make them hyperlinks
  4. Use PSD templates to mock up your designs. Brochure/magazine:  Corporate identities:
  5. Use professional-looking photos – It mustn’t look like you have used your cell phone or a cheap camera.
  6. Don’t put too many artworks on one page – Each piece needs breathing room.
  7. Consider the merits of each format – online versus PDF. What kind of job are you applying for?
  8. Facebook is not an appropriate (or professional) platform for your portfolio. Ever!
  9. Consider tailoring your portfolio, if need be, to the nature of the position you are applying for.e. If it’s a digital role, you will probably want an online portfolio. If it’s a packaging design role, you would want to highlight your packaging work.
  10. Consider creating separate sections in your portfolio to create a sense of order. i.e. Print, BTL, ATL, TVCs, Digital, UX/UI, Retail, Branding etc.
  11. Personal creative pieces (like photography or painting/illustration) which are not directly relevant to the job you are applying for should be kept in a separate section at the end of your portfolio.
  12. If online, make sure your website is simple, clean and easy to navigate. Make sure all the links are working and that there are no spelling/grammar or technical errors.
  13. If PDF, include hyperlinks to video/online pieces. (if applicable).
  14. Consider including a caption for each piece or campaign, covering the nature of the brief, how it was fulfilled and very importantly, what role you played in the project.
  15. Never ever claim someone else’s work as your own. This is a small industry and people talk. You could easily ruin your career if/when the truth comes out. We’ve seen it happen many a time.
  16. Ensure all your artwork is facing the right way (not sideways). (Duh!) They should also be the same size. Consistency is important.
  17. Include only your best work. Be selective and keep it ideally between 10 (no less) and 30 pieces.
  18. Keep your PDF portfolio under 10 megs. If it has to be over that size, load it on to Dropbox. Behance is also a very easy and workable solution to this problem.
  19. Ensure your artwork is as crisp and clear as possible. You don’t want to look like a rookie by submitting pixelated work in your portfolio.
  20. Avoid drop-shadows and other special effects that might date your portfolio, making it look old-fashioned – keep it clean and simple.
  21. REGULARLY BACK-UP YOUR PORTFOLIO WORK – And then, back-up your back-up (and keep it in a separate location). If you lose your work, it will be devastating for your career and you will struggle to find another job.

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