Mark just asked me to take ten minutes and jot down my opinions about what a student (or anyone I guess) should do/include/avoid when putting together and presenting a portfolio. A couple years ago I actually did a post on the topic on this blog.
Since then I have been on the receiving end of hundreds (if not more) emails, cover letters, resumes, portfolios, unannounced drop-ins and all manner of people, talented and otherwise, looking to work here. Having been on the other side, let’s call it the Dark Side, before, I can empathize. Most often I try to respond personally with some kind of feedback. Here’s a peek into what I’m really thinking. Oh and by the way, this isn’t just what I’m thinking, it’s the general sentiment here at Industrial Brand and I’m sure many other places too.
Don’t waste my time.
Tailor your book to me – or at least what it is you think will get my attention based on the work WE do. Prove you’ve done a little research about us. Want to get my attention? Show me I’m not your latest form-letter victim.
I don’t have time to meet with every person who contacts me, especially when I’m not hiring. I have unsolicited portfolios and resumes sitting on my desk, or worse, that take the lowest priority. These days I want to see a PDF, or even better, a website with good samples of your work that are representative of the skills you hope to bring to the company.
The notion of a super busy creative director actually having the time to sift through a bunch of junk to find a jewel in the rough is a romantic one that probably last happened in the ’70s. Seriously, the competition is so tight that portfolios that are not polished and professional are usually completely overlooked.
Touch me while touching base
In your email to me:
So, the portfolio itself:
Finally, you’ll hear lots of rhetoric from busy people. Sometimes they take an extra moment to give more honest, personal feedback. Cherish this. Don’t expect a job from people, be happy to simply get advice, and take it (sometimes with a grain of salt). Ask if you can be back in touch sometime. From the answer you can intuit whether there might be something in the future. Then actually do it. Be good if you had something new to offer when you do.
That’s all I have NO TIME FOR.