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Portfolios can be expected for some roles and industries. This is particularly common in the creative and computing industries.

If a portfolio is requested for interview it should demonstrate your experience and skills. Your folder of work needs to communicate – clearly and quickly – how what you have to offer will be of interest and benefit to the company or organisation in question. Here are some top tips to consider when you’re getting your portfolio ready:

  1. Decide what to leave out as well as what to include. Take a selection of work that demonstrates the breadth of your ability but don’t be tempted to take too much. Aim to take 5 or 6 of your best projects and show them in reasonable detail. You might sometimes edit the work in your portfolio depending on the type of position that you are going for.
  2. Make things accessible. Don’t assume that people are willing or have time to open lots of packets or sort through folders – they won’t. And you’re likely to get flustered in interviews if you have to do this too! You may choose a traditional folder of around A3 size, or perhaps a box with loose archival sleeves that can be spread out on a table. Alternatively you may decide to use an online portfolio. For this you will need to ensure that you can access the work quickly and it follows a logical format.
  3. Insist on quality. Attention to detail will be picked up on straight away – poor quality prints, dog eared corners, bad photography, typo errors and such can kill even the best work – and are easily avoidable. If using a digital portfolio you will also need to consider the formatting and if this can be accessed on different technologies e.g. tablet, phone, computer.
  4. Explain with clarity. Never assume that the person looking at your work knows what it is about. Adopt a simple and clear labelling system that shows the title of the work, concisely explains the brief/project that the work is responding to. 100 words or less is suggested.
  5. Get the balance of projects right. Whilst for example it might make sense to go along with a folder full only of editorial design work if you are going for a position with a magazine – often employers are looking for what else you can do and this is your chance to show some versatility. Consider showing a spread of projects that are both client and self-initiated, as well as projects showing an application of work to various media.
  6. Ask for feedback on your portfolio. Remember that an interview should be a two way thing so in addition to asking questions about the company, try where possible to invite comments on the work that you are showing. Whether you are praised or receive suggestions for improvement, this will be valuable for you and it shows that you are conscientious about your work.

Making a Job Application | Applications (Video) | Applying to Further Study | Personal Statements | Portfolios | Showreels

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