Advice from a Creative Director on your CV and Portfolio

Anecdotal evidence is nothing without perspective, so first a little background on why I feel qualified to speak on this matter. I am a graphic designer with some 15 years of experience, in this time my work has been recognised both through accolade as well as publication and I would like to believe I have a fair amount of talent not only in my own work but also in recognising talent in others. I currently work as a Creative Director and from time to time we go through the hiring process, a process which I handle on my own, in advertising the position, receiving C.V’s/Portfolios and interviewing.

I can tell you that I have seen hundreds of Portfolios during this time and sadly very few have ever had any effect on me.

Personally I don't really care where you have studied or even whether you have studied. In design a strong portfolio is far more powerful than a piece of paper showing you sat somewhere for a few years. If this time spent in College could be good for anything it would be in helping you prepare for the job market, sadly this seems to seldom be the case.

Below a few common problems I see in submitted portfolios:

  1. Compressed Images: You spent time on your work, why are you now destroying it with terrible compression?
  2. Too much: I don't need to see 40 examples of ad layouts to gauge your skill level. Pick your best pieces, the rest becomes clutter and distracts from your quality work.
  3. Painting and Illustration: You enjoy painting as a hobby, that's great, but unless you are the next Dali your amateur brush strokes don't apply to a design job.
  4. Keep it Professional: Your buddy had a party and you made the flier. The badly deep-etched half naked woman are not endearing.
  5. Grunge: You want the over-all look of your portfolio to compliment your work not subtract from it. Avoid black backgrounds and grunge was over in 2005.

You are meant to be a creative and your portfolio is meant to be a representation of who you are and what you can bring to my studio. Spend some time on it, look online at what others are doing and even if you set out to create some “fake” work to hit certain categories at least it shows your technical ability.

Which brings me to your C.V. You are a designer, an artist, a creative innovator. So why is your C.V a Word document packed packed with walls of text?

Your C.V should be no different to your Portfolio. It should be a designed document that speaks to your creative identity. A document which shows your proficiency for layout and clean design which makes me want to see your portfolio.

Oh and for the record, apply to one of my positions without attaching your portfolio and I wont even bother looking at your C.V. I do however recognise our digital world and will gladly click through to your online website or behance etc. Just make sure that if you are going the digital route that you at least have a hold on the medium and again are able to curate it as mentioned.

My sites: @givencollective