First blog post of the new year and it’s almost April so my bad. Today I am writing about portfolios and CVs as I have spent the last few months going over so many as we look to expand our design team at the agency.
Whilst going through them all, you start to see similar patterns and red flags that force you to think maybe this isn’t the right person and sometimes these red flags might be a red herring and the person is a great candidate but you have already started to form an opinion.
So I guess I am writing this on behalf of people applying and it’s not rocket science stuff but it might just help you get that dream role or at least stop me rejecting you too early.
We all like to share our work but you would be surprised by how many people never share links of work they have done. Or when they do, the site is broken, no longer live or was redesigned by someone else. Stay on top of the work you have done. Always check any links before you send on. I do try and use the Wayback machine where possible to check for broken sites but make it easier for person looking at the portfolio. Another good tip is to screengrab all your work so should the site go offline or drastically change, you have proof.
No links at all
This is something I always ask the recruiter for if I am the one speaking to them but if you are applying, have something to show. Saying you are a design ninja means nothing if I can’t see the evidence. I’ll start to think design bullshitter. A linkedin profile is not enough to get hired in this industry.
Not enough detail
Often, I see a portfolio with some screens but no context. You work for an agency who employs 4 to 5 designers or devs so which bit of the work did you work on. This is advice I plan to take myself as I don’t talk about the work I actually do that well on my site so I’m no angel. It’s important we find out what you actually did on a site as you might only have done a banner but here you are telling us you did the whole site.
First thing I do is look you up on social media, mainly the creative ones like Dribbble and Behance but obviously I will look at Twitter and anything else a search brings up. When it comes to Dribbble and Behance, I see a lot of candidates put these as places where you can see work but most of the time, there will be one or two items (usually apps) but more activity around other people’s accounts. If you have work to share, get it on there. I love seeing people use these types of mediums to get their work out there. With regards others, yes we’re hiring people who are the right fit but unless you stand out like a massive wanker, we prefer to meet you and get to know on that score.
Rating yourself 5 stars out of 5 or 95% out of 100 for CSS or another skill generally seen as a no no on CVs / portfolios. How can you really quantify it. If you mark yourself high, I will test you on that, trust me. It’s important to know where your skills are at but don’t set yourself up for a fall.
Did you really do the work?
Nothing excites me more when a designer or dev has a website of their own. This is a massive plus and really helps form an opinion early on. As a designer with years of Frontend experience, I sometimes get carried away with looking at CSS or HTML. One thing I look out for though is are you using a theme, did you really design this and so on. The amount of times I have found a theme used that when you look at the base, nothing much has changed yet on the interview, when asked, they designed the whole thing. Be honest. Most themes leave a trail so don’t try and pass off others as your own.
Not CV / Portfolio based but important to add. Obviously the world is more remote these days (thanks Covid) so we do a lot of calls on Zoom or Hangouts and a big issue for me is someone not having their camera on in an interview. Even if just to say hello and turn it off after, I wouldn’t mind that.
There are probably more things that I could mention but we’ll leave it there. Attention to detail can really matter when it comes to selling yourself and your skills. It’s a hard enough task these days with the amount of people out there doing what we do so refine how you go about it and hopefully it might help. If you are looking for a design role, we are hiring so please do get in touch. And make sure if you do, you followed the advice above 🙂