Portfolio Advice

Hello all, I’m on my last assignment for my graphic design course. I have been looking around for advice on what to put, but I also wanted to hear from experienced professionals and possibly some recruiters. What do you guys look for? How many seconds do I have before I lose your attention? What are some styles you find boring? What would surprise you in a portfolio?

I also had a couple of ideas I wanted to draft into my portfolio. If you guys think they’re not realistic or bland, please do not hesitate to give me alternatives so I can understand what people look for.

  1. With the hardcopy portfolio, I want to dedicate a few spaces on the page with a QR code. With the code, I can link my digital portfolio as well as PDF versions of the designs I am presenting.
  2. For the digital portfolio, I had the idea of including interactives to allow browsers to physically go ahead and play around instead of just scanning and reading.

You might have your reasons, but unless you have something best seen on a smart phone, I’d tend to avoid the QR codes. Most portfolios are best viewed on a larger display. Linking from a QR code will lead people to view your work from their phones.

As for the physical (or hardcopy) portfolio, are you planning to have multiple or leave-behind versions or are you just planning to show your work during an interview. In decades past, it was common to leave a physical portfolio when applying for a job. This was before the internet, however.

Today, most places expect an online portfolio to look through before deciding whether or not to call someone in for an interview to look at that person’s work in person. That being the case, I’m hard pressed to think of someone in an interview pulling out their smartphone to scan the QR codes in your physical portfolio.

@Just-B I see, one more question I have is how I should end a portfolio. Is it appropriate to finish it on your last work? Or should you prepare a blurb to end it on a soft note?

That likely depends on the kind of portfolio you’re referring to. If it’s a leave-behind with explanatory text throughout, a statement at the end wrapping things up might be a good idea.

If it’s a portfolio meant only to be shown during an interview, nobody’s will want to read what you have to say when you’re there to speak your mind in person.

Keep in mind that a designer’s portfolio is about showing work. Some notes about challenges and why solutions were chosen are good to provide context to the design and give clues to your thinking process, but your portfolio shouldn’t be a work of literature unless you’re a writer.

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Quality over quantity! A fatal mistake new designers have made when presenting their portfolios to me for hire is they would show me a 15 projects that were honestly not that great… If you’re a student, you may not have a lot of real world experience under your belt to pull from. I would take 5 to 7 of your best projects and fine tune your presentation. I as a design firm owner, want to know that the person I’m hiring can do one thing - solve creative problems and make it look good while do it. That’s it, it’s that simple.

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