Job-Hunting Must-Have: A Portfolio Website

As the summer quickly approaches and you start looking for internships and/or jobs, you'll need to make sure you have all your stuff together to make an effective hunt. Of course there's your resume and cover letter, and having all your info ready to copy-and-paste into those HR application sites online. 

But perhaps the most important of all is your portfolio website. This could be the thing that gets you the interview, cause without it, your application is just a piece of paper. By showing some of your work online, those doing the hiring can quickly see that you're worth talking to, even if your resume isn't all that impressive (and let's face it, for most students, how CAN your resume be impressive when you haven't yet had a chance to really work?). Follow us after the jump for some tips on putting this important piece of the the job-hunting puzzle together...

- Make your name and contact info easy to find. This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how many portfolio sites bury their name only in the title of the webpage, so it's on the browser window but nowhere else. You also don't want to be knocked out of the running simply because someone couldn't find your email address. Be careful of including your Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr or other social media or blog links unless they are largely design-oriented. If they're super-personal, best to leave them off your portfolio site.

- Label things clearly. Each piece on your site should be clearly identified with the project name, whether it's a publication or company or a student piece you did in class. The labels don't need to be long, just a short phrase to explain what the piece is and who it was for. 

- Make sure your images look good. The images should be large enough for us to see the details. Obviously you don't want high-res images on your site because it'll make your page load slower, but be sure the resolution is good enough for web viewing ... pixellation is a major detractor from your work. 

- Edit your writing. Sure, we're art people, but that doesn't mean we don't have to communicate well. Part of that is spelling things correctly, using the right punctuation and grammar, and just making sure your words make sense. Get a non-designer friend to help you proofread, and if you're trying to get a job in another country, find someone who speaks that language to help, because awkward sentences, misspellings and bad punctuation makes us wonder about your attention to detail. This goes for the actual words on your website as well as the words in your design pieces.

- Choose your work carefully. Remember, what people see on your portfolio is what will hopefully make them call you in for an interview. So make sure the work you show represents you well. And try not to show too much, because if they DO call you in for an interview, you don't want your in-person portfolio to be totally repetitive of what they've already seen online.

- Keep it simple. When art directors and designers are looking to hire, they're doing so on top of their regular job, so they don't want to have to dig to find your work and they certainly don't want to wait around for your site to load. So stay away from Flash and super-complicated effects and formats. Choose a layout that's clean and simple and easy to navigate. 
      Behance, Carbonmade and other similar portfolio sites are good options, but consider building your own site to make a more personable impact. Cargo Collective is a great option geared towards designers, but if you want to add a little more personalization, makes it super-easy for non-web-savvy designers to design their own sites. Of course there's lot of other options out there as well ... look at what other designers are using to get other ideas. Just remember to keep it simple and easy to navigate.

Want more help with your portfolio, online or physical? Then join us for Portfolio Reviews on April 9th where our magazine pros will look at everything you've got and help you edit your work to get hired! Sign up here!

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