Thursday, November 19, 2009

Show, Don't Tell

I review a lot of student portfolios. Right up front, I ask students what they want to do for a living.

"I want to be in advertising."

And then I don't see a single ad.

"I want to be a magazine designer."

And I see nothing but logos and posters.

If you want to be in advertising, your portfolio better be full of concepts. If you want to be a magazine designer, you need to show editorial work. Etc., etc., etc.

I'm not going to take your word for it that you can create ads, write taglines, design logos, animate videos or anything else. You have to show me.

Don't have the kind of work in your portfolio you would like to do? Simple. Create it.

Your portfolio doesn't have to be full of graded student projects. It doesn't matter if it was for class or not. I just want proof you can do the work. And do it well.

Show me that, and you might get the job.


One Womans Thoughts said...

Great commentary on the obvious!

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scotty said...

This is an issue that comes up all the time. I, personally have been searching for a job in web/graphic design for some time (long story), and I know several others who are as well. I've often been asked if having spec work, student projects, pro-bono work, etc in your portfolio has as much weight as paid-for professional work. Unfortunately, it often seems that those hiring for jobs don't look at non-professional work the same way.

I used to tell people that the quality of their work was what would get them hired, regardless of the type of work it was. With recent experience, though, I'm no longer convinced that's the case.

It may have a lot to do with the economic climate and the fact that every position has become much more competitive with so many more people in the job-search market, but it seems like it's more than that.

I welcome any thoughts or ideas.

kevin fullerton said...

Unfortunately the current market has made it more difficult to be able to show non-professional work and have it looked at the same way. With so many people out of jobs, the people hiring can be much pickier than in the past. And as someone who may be hiring again in the near future, I feel that I have to be absolutely assured that the person can do the job. I don't have the luxury to take risks like I might have in the past.

However, great work is great work. If they are not convinced, volunteer to do a real-world project for them. Let them see what you can do within the constraints of a real project and a real deadline. The key is, do not let them have the work. They don't get it for free. You can show it to them so they can judge your abilities, but don't leave it with them. Most wouldn't use it anyway -- but it's best to play it safe.