stationery for design portfolio

In this guest post, Hannah from Doxzoo tells us all about compiling an awesome portfolio to help you showcase your creative skills in job interviews. Over to Hannah…

The design industry is fierce, which is why it is vital to have a kick ass portfolio up your sleeve to help you to get noticed, secure interviews and win job offers. Read on to find out how to do just that…

Quality Not Quantity

A standard portfolio should include 10 to 20 examples of your work. For less experienced designers, this may be ambitious. However, you can include appropriate personal projects. The logo and branding work you did for your fictional business last summer could come in handy!

Know Your Audience & Be Relevant

When it comes to compiling your design portfolio, you should always be selective with your work. Put yourself in the shoes of the employer or recruiter – what are they definition of portfolio for interviewlooking for? What type of brief will you be working on if you are a successful candidate?

If you are applying to be an in-house designer for a large corporate finance company, they probably don’t need to see your cutesy illustration work. Likewise, if you are interviewing at a laid-back design agency that likes to push the boundaries, they may appreciate bold colours and non-traditional pieces.

Know your audience and tailor your portfolio. If you are applying to a broad range of companies, it will mean refining your portfolio for each audience. This means more work for you, but a tailored approach will always help improve your job seeking success.

Variety Is The Spice Of Life

Most employers are not looking for a one trick pony, so it is important to represent the breadth of your skill set by showcasing a variety of work. That said, all the portfolio pieces should complement each other.

Do they look consistent? Are they clearly by one designer? Consider how the pieces work together. It should flow smoothly from one design to the next.

Contextualise All Projects

Take the time to contextualise each item in your portfolio. Provide a heading, date and brief description of each piece. A picture is worth a 1,000 words, but a descriptive few will help.

Mention who or what the project was for, as well as the skills used. If possible, you should also include testimonials and results to prove your success.

Format Like You Mean It

Formatting should be consistent from page to page. The layout of your portfolio will be reflective of your skills as a designer, so consider the overall look you are going for. Pay attention to numbering, titles, typefaces, headers and footers as well as all other visual aspects.

Above all, your portfolio should be easy to read and reference. Don’t forget to include your contact details.

Keep It Fresh

Update your portfolio regularly to keep it fresh. Lead with your latest work and follow on chronologically from there. It is important to stay current.

Choose The Perfect Imagery

Images will be the focal point of your portfolio, so invest time in choosing the right ones. Hi-res will always come out on top, so maximise the impact by using high quality images. Small and grainy is a big no-no.

It’s also wise to include photographs of your visuals in situ. For example, if you’ve designed a poster, you should take a photo of the poster on display. For web design, showcase the piece within a computer monitor, tablet or mobile phone. Don’t just drop a flat image straight in.

This technique will allow you to easily add context and enhance the credibility of your work.

Represent Your Design Process

Take your imagery further by showcasing your design process. Achieve this by including a series of images that take the viewer from your initial sketches to your finished piece. This will convey your methodology and serve as a great talking point for interviews.

Opt For Professional Print

Don’t cut corners when it comes to printing. Do your portfolio justice with a quality print job that includes a nice finish, reasonable paper thickness and quality bind. It’s unlikely that you will have the facility to do this at home, so consider using an online document printing service or heading to your local print shop instead.

Go Online

Whilst printed portfolios are a must when attending interviews, an online portfolio can be a brilliant and easily accessible showcase of your work. Checkout ‘40 brilliant design portfolios to inspire you’ for a flavour of what is possible.

Be mindful of the website design style, as it should be reflective of your expertise. For example, if you are an illustrator, incorporate illustration into the website design. Take care with your personal branding and include a blog to demonstrate your knowledge and passion for the industry.

If you take this route, consider usability and make it easy to navigate. You should also be sure to offer a downloadable portfolio PDF version, alongside clear contact details.

Thanks For Reading!

This article has been written by Hannah from Doxzoo.com – an online printing service ideal for jobseekers and designers of all kinds. What is your top tip for getting your design portfolio noticed? Let us know with a comment below or tweet us at @doxzoo.

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