Knock knock. It’s a lovely Saturday afternoon and you wonder – who could possibly be interrupting your bliss (including a large turkey sandwich and reruns of your favorite 80’s sitcom – insert for me – Perfect Strangers). You open the door with your speech prepared for the following:
• Candy/Girl Scout cookie sales – you may budge if they have Carmel deLites.
• Religious group passing out literature – always a fun bunch.
• Pesky siding salesman – even though your house is made of bricks
• WAIT – it could be your Mary Kay order. That would be awesome.
• Free pizza – you wouldn’t be terribly upset if a free pizza showed up.

As you open the door, you find two gentleman representing ABC Landscaping and they have in tow – hedge clippers, a lawnmower, and a bag of mulch. They look legit. And then you ask – “I do need some help with my landscaping – might you have some photographs of past work with you so I can gauge your design style and past successes?” They blink, look at you dumbfounded, point to the hedge clippers and say “We are very good.” The door closes and your lawn continues to be plagued by dandelions.

Why? PROOF. We all need proof. We need to believe you are a champion landscaper by showing us the amazing lawn work you did for Johnny Depp – yes I know Johnny Depp doesn’t live in my neighborhood but I can dream.

The point you ask? Time and time again I have this conversation with talent and the importance of proof. Being in the business of Interactive Design and Development – the proof is in the portfolio.

Here are my 8 tips to help your job search simply by maintaining a stellar portfolio:

• Spy. You heard me. Check out your competition. In this world of Internet accessibility, check out who you are going up against in this marketplace. Look at their portfolios… Do you walk away feeling wowed/jealous? What can you incorporate in yours? Creative Hotlist, Krop, Behance, Coroflot, etc. Great places to start.

• I know you’ve been working and your portfolio is three years old because you haven’t had time to update it – but let’s be honest…you need to find time to update it. Your portfolio is one of the few things in life that SHOULD be kept up to date. (Apart from your Netflix subscription and dentist appointments).

• BYOBM – Be your own best marketer. Does your portfolio accurately display the type of work you can do and have done? As much as hiring managers love hearing “I know it’s not in my portfolio but I did some really cool work for XYZ….” Put in those pieces that you are excited about. Your excitement will come through.

• Stay away from portfolio styles that can exhaust a hiring manager. Case in point, I often have to spend several minutes trying to figure out how to navigate a portfolio before realizing that … OH! I have to click on those TINY little thumbnails at the bottom to view each piece. If a hiring manager is going to become fatigued or feel stressed by your portfolio, it’s truly not helping you.

o Simplicity is key
o Large graphics grab attention
o Easy navigation – are the arrows easy to find?
o Basic descriptions of your contribution

• So you designed an AMAZING web 2.0 site and you’re applying to a web 2.0 role that is PERFECT considering that most recent job you completed? If that’s the case, the manager should be able to find said work in 2 seconds. If they have to hunt for it, they won’t. I repeat – make it easy for them.

• I realize that it’s much easier to use your portfolio for multiple purposes including advertising your best friend’s photography business, your interests in hiking including vacation photos, your amazing progress in brewing your own beer, dating info, etc. But for the sake of argument – just go with me on this one. Less is more in terms of personal information. And please please please – no pictures of you sunning yourself on vacation. You laugh but it happens.

• Keep in mind your web portfolio is still a website – it must function as such. Think of what frustrates you about certain sites and evaluate whether or not the usability/functionality of your portfolio is up to snuff.

• And finally……the links should work. That’s it. They should work. Sound like a no-brainer? Seriously – check it. In multiple browsers. You’d be surprised.

To wrap up, please keep in mind that your portfolio is a reflection of you, your skill level, and your overall work (aka – what YOU offer) so whatever you create and send should truly be stellar, impressive, updated, comprehensive, and COMPLETE.

Remember, you only get one chance to make a first impression………. Unless, the hiring manager has short term amnesia and let’s face it – this isn’t Falcon Crest (80’s prime time soap featuring Lorenzo Lamas – Google it – it was INCREDIBLE).

Views: 11

Tags: Aquent, Design, Interactive, Portfolio, Webby's, advice, hunting, interview, job, tips

Comment by Jodi on April 27, 2010 at 4:46pm
Absolutely LOVED your post. Seems like it should be obvious but I went and checked out a couple things on my own site to make sure I wasn't guilty of the offences you mention. Have a great day!
Comment by Julie Robinson on April 28, 2010 at 9:12am
Loved this blog by Kelly - I find her blog witty, and a pleasure to read. Thanks for the insight, content and humour Kelly

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