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Perfecting your portfolio

Your interview performance may secure you the job, but it’s your portfolio that initially gets you noticed. Read our top tips to make sure it commands the right attention.
As a marketing designer, your career history and technical skills are essential for any potential new employer to be aware of. But the crux of your role is creative output and it’s on that evidence that hiring decisions are based. Even the most impressive designers don’t make it to the interview stage if recruiters and hiring managers can’t quickly access relevant examples of their past work.

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The portfolio you use to apply for a role should be short, sharp and to the point. It should present the skills relevant to the job in question in a snapshot, so tailor it accordingly:
  • Keep it relevant – if you’re applying for a Flash design role, show evidence only of your Flash work.
  • Present the examples separately to your CV – build a bespoke page online, or pull together a file to email across, taking care to compress the size without compromising on quality.
  • Show no more than 10 examples, and provide brief context for each.
  • Provide a link to your full portfolio online so that those interested can view your whole body of work.

Interview time

If the creativity displayed on application portfolio results in an interview, it’s time to assemble a more comprehensive portfolio to showcase the full range of your skills. Traditionally, the portfolio has appeared in hardcopy format. While this is acceptable and often useful at interview, the opportunity for the hiring manager to access an electronic version of your full portfolio will add value to your candidacy.
As with your application portfolio, the same basic guidelines about relevancy and presentation apply, but take care to show off all your capabilities:
  • Ensure your portfolio is up-to-date and contains relevant examples from all of your recent roles.
  • Include the full range of your work, for online roles for example, a good mix of pages, emails and banners will showcase your full skill set.
  • Present your newest work at the beginning of the portfolio.
  • Pay attention to the design and layout of the overall portfolio as it gives a good indication of your creative abilities and organisational skills.
  • Evidence of contribution to well-known campaigns, established brands and competitor organisations will hold more weight than work completed for an unknown entity.
  • Put your work into context – describe what the viewer is looking at, the artwork and image selection, final printing quantities etc.
As impressive as your designs may be, don’t leave them to speak for themselves in an interview situation. Be sure to talk through in detail the process for each design, including the brief, process, internal interactions and the ultimate creative and commercial outcomes, with the intention of demonstrating the value your track record can add to the role you’re being considered for.

Show off, online

If you’re lacking an electronic portfolio, it could make all the difference to your job search. Check out our suggestions for online marketing portfolio builders below.
  • Behance ProSite
  • Carbonmade
  • Portfoliobox
If web design is your strong suit, you could also consider building your own site too. If your preferred method of highlighting your work online is to email examples, make sure that the file sizes are reduced as far as possible to avoid bounce backs and other issues with recipients being able to access information.
For more information on your design job search or graphic design/marketing portfolio, please get in touch with your local office.