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Creating the perfect design portfolio

Getting Started: Creating the Perfect Design Portfolio

Photo of designer's desk from above

By emc design

Recruiting is one of emc design's biggest challenges and finding the right person can be hard, as is finding the right job if you’re a designer. So one of the best ways you can stand out at the early recruitment stage is to have a stellar design portfolio. It’s not always just about what content you put in your portfolio though! So emc design gathered together a couple of our top tips for making sure your portfolio is in top shape for 2016!

Introduction
This can be something simple; a page at the beginning of your portfolio to introduce yourself and the work you’re presenting.

Quality not quantity
Limit the number of projects you choose to put in your portfolio. Selecting the right ones can be hard, so make sure to choose the ones that best highlight your skills and the area of design you are interested in, as well as the ones you enjoyed the most. This will give you the advantage of showing off your best skills and will show confidence in your work as you’ll be able to talk in depth (and enthusiastically) about each one at interview stage.

Layout is key
Try not to cram as much as possible onto one page. It’s hard to focus on a single piece of work when there are lots of other things around it. You want to highlight your work and show a clear thought process by laying it out in a clear and concise order. Consider how to structure your work, do you want page numbers, headers, a contents page? As well as thinking about the navigational features. Use the design of your portfolio as another way to show off your skills.

Brand your work
If you show that you have taken the time and have the ability to brand yourself consistently on each page you will definitely stand out as one of the better designers. It also makes it easier to see which work belongs to you when laid out next to other portfolios at the selection stage of recruitment.

Make sure it’s your own work
Make sure the work you’re presenting is your own work and ideas. Although it’s good to see you can work within a team try to avoid using projects that you have worked on in a group. Unless it is obvious what work was solely your own, it can sometimes be hard to distinguish who did what and whether ideas were yours or others in the group. If you are going to include group work perhaps consider showing a page of your thought processes and ideas too, which will help demonstrate the contribution you have made.

Print & digital
Most designers have an online/digital portfolio, which is fantastic, especially as it shows recruiters you have technical skills in digital software. However, if you’re going to use a tablet or laptop to present your work, don’t forget the printed version. This is important as it physically demonstrates your ability to select work and present it in an orderly and beautifully designed way. As well as helping recruiters, at selection stages, to have something of yours to hand.

It’s all in the detail
It goes without saying really, but make sure you have thoroughly spell checked your portfolio. Grammatical errors and typos are real bugbears of ours. As are sloppy things like pixelated images, fonts that aren’t embedded and pages that you have to rotate the right way up!

Keep it up-to-date
Try not to build and bulk out your portfolio with old and irrelevant examples of your work. Refresh it and have a clear out a couple of times a year to make sure it’s at its best. Remember your portfolio is a work in progress and is never truly finished.

Tailor your portfolio
You may end up having 3 or 4 different versions of the same kind of work but tailored slightly differently. For example, if you are applying to emc design put your best and most relevant editorial samples at the front of your portfolio. If you’re applying to a marketing agency put your logo and branding work at the front.

 

This post originally appeared on emc design's blog in January 2016.