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Sunday, September 25, 2005

How to assemble your portfolio content

I recently redid my portfolio (I'll post a link to it next week) so I thought I would take the time to discuss the strategy I used to create the portfolio:

The purpose of the portfolio is to communicate to a potential employer that you have the skills necessary to meet their needs. In other words, you are COMMUNICATING your skills VISUALLY.

So, in deciding what content you want in there, you should first decide what you want to communicate. Are you good with computers, a good sketcher, a good design strategist, a good model maker or what?

For my portfolio, I wanted to show that I had both experience and versatility. I chose only the projects that had the best sketches, model photography, and computer renders. To show diversity, I also included some of my concept art, graphic designs, web designs, and fine art pieces. The overall effect I wanted to generate was something along the lines of "wow, this guy is really good at a whole bunch of stuff, what isn't he good at?!"

Every Single page should reinforce the main message you want to communicate. Unfortunately, it will be hit and miss finding a company that will buy into your statement, but when one does, you can rest assured that your interests and talents will closely coincide with your employers.

As far as formatting goes, When I did my resume and portfolio, I wanted to maximize the publish-ability of my work. I have printed copies, digital copies with small file-sizes, digital copies with very large file-sizes, online information, PDFs, INDs, PSDs, Text files, Word Documents, Gifs, Jpegs, and a sample packet that I could email or print and mail at a moment's notice. This is why:

Sometimes companies will request that you do not mail anything to them in the post and that you submit your work online or in an email. Others request that you do not email them, but mail it to their HR department. Still others want you to copy and paste your information into a web form that goes into their database. Others just want links to online versions of your portfolio (or even just you're Core-folio)

Also, when you are looking for work, you want to get them to want to see more and more of your work (the wow-factor that I tried to go for in my portfolio). So a good strategy is to create a "sample packet" that contains a cover letter, your resume (one page only!), and a page or two of your work (I would include only the best of the best). This way, when they open your packet, they can give the resume to HR, and then look right at your best stuff. Most likely they will want to learn more about why you chose certain designs and what kind of sketching skills you might have. It is kind of like bait fishing.

I try to avoid showing my work online unless it is requested because it destroys the "lure" effect that abridged portfolio samples can generate. But again, I want it all online, just in case someone wants to see it.

By the way, if you doubt my qualifications or prerequisites for making these suggestions, I can happily reply that the above mentioned strategies resulted in two full-time job offers this last Friday. Booyah.