How do you define a GOOD PORTOLIO in order to get a job...

Okay so I’m annoyed and confused.

I think I have a good portfolio, right down the cleanliness, fluidity and good range of style, I even splurged on a high end porftolio case that’s very stylish, one of those personalized ones… you get the picture. I had four professionals review my portfolio and have done all their revisions… so now it’s beautiful and it makes sense, right?

Then I meet a person who has my dream job and shows me their portfolio. I was stunned at the mediocre quality of it, the portfolio case is one of those $19.99 ones. The portfolio pieces were uneventful, they were sloppy, everything was mixed up and randomly placed, even inserted stuff they did as a student all over the place. The worst part, this person tells me, they were hired on the spot, just like that.

But hey, they’re livin’ it up at this posh boutique design firm, so who am I to point out criticisms.

And now my question is, would I have been better off with a mediocre porftolio right down with a $19.99 porftfolio case AND STILL get a posh job?

Their ad-lib presentation skills are probably on the the killer side of excellent. Fact is, you don’t know that they didn’t have a great portfolio at the time, nor that a particular project they worked on wasn’t already a perfect fit for the employer. Everything counts, not just the envelope.



What does make a good portfolio? I have been asking that myself a lot too.

There are lots of advise out there and when you think you got it to the point, it still doesn’t seem to get you a job. Some employers want a lot of different types of of work and for others it might be too versatile.

Could be that the person was there at the right place/right time, a lot of the times design firms just need someone right away who knows the software to get things done. Also like what “purplepeopledesign” pointed out, maybe they interviewed very well and presented their designs beautifully convincing the firm otherwise. Maybe they got the job through a connection. The other explaination could be that they sucked c*ck or slept with them.

Other than that, you shouldn’t feel bad that you worked hard and spent a fortune on a personalized portfolio. It’s all about timing and persistence.

You’ll get that “posh” job soon enough and meanwhile, keep your chin up and take pride on your beautiful portfolio.

OK, first, reaction by other students has to be taken with a grain of salt. Yes, comments and critique from your peers is great. Just Keep in mind that they are not the target audience for your portfolio.

Things to have-

1- Sketchbook
Full scale, not reduced hand done sketches. Various levels of finish. As visual people, it shows your thoughts on paper. This is key for me to hire someone. You will not get hired without one!

2- Process Book
Detailed book showing the full developement of a project. Show your process, from start to finish. Show different tools and skill along the way. This book should also show your organization and graphic skills.

3- General overview
Show some other examples of your work and projects

These can be assembled to your style. All must be part of the portfolio. You may need to be able to customize your portfolio on the fly. Set it up for that.


Maybe his ideas and his drawing skills were better than yours?

Ain’t that the truth!

There will always be someone better than you and you will always be better than someone else. It’s a fair trade and that’s life.

I think it’s okay to spend a lot of money on a personalized portfolio case especially when you have to send it out. I get a bunch portoflios every day and a lot of them do look alike, right down to the same brand. It’s like when you pick up your luggage after a flight, you know it’s black but so is everybody else’s.

I suggest, stick with what you have right now since you worked so hard on it. If you believe you’re good then you’re good! There will always be another job offer.

Good luck.

Mine costed like $17.90 and my boss loves it. It’s just a 3 ring folder with fake fabric texture, no graphics. I just put my pages in plastic sleeves, letter size, nothing fancy.

I don’t think it’s all that money that makes the difference. It’s what’s inside and how you present yourself. As long as it has the same representation as your work, it should be fine. If the folder looks better then what’s inside, you will be in trouble.

We must give the benefit of the doubt that what’s inside your portfolio is up to par as you pointed out that four “professionals” reviewed it… fine.

But maybe you aren’t selling yourself properly right down to what’s inside your portfolio. You might want to try working on your sales pitch and the marketing strategies about yourself instead on relying just on a well crafter portfolio.

Because your portfolio can just do so much. It doesn’t matter if you bought your portfolio at the .99 cents store or spent 3 digits on it, it’s all about selling yourself and your skills at point blank.

The content of your portfolio is one of the major keys to getting a design job. Its nice to hav a cool case but:

Great Case-lousy work… you won’t get the job
Great work-inexpensive case… Great work always get the job.

Personality fit is just as important. You may be the best designer in the world but if you don’t get along with me and the rest of my department I’m not going to hire you.

My point being is there are many factors to be considered when bringing on a new employee… not just the work.

I agree on some of the comments. I see a lot of good looking portfolios out there, but during the interviews, some had a bland personality, others were too nervous that they talked incessively, the one who appear cocky made me feel like they’re too expensive and the rest just rubbed me the wrong way.

I can’t really judge the CONTENT of your portfolio because we haven’t seen it. But if you had professional people help you with them, maybe they should help you with your marketing techniques as well. Set up a mock interview with them.

It’s worth a try.

overdone portfolio’s are the worst

have a few basic 11x17 binders and a stack of loose sketches…NOTHING fancy…but the content is layed out in an order that makes sense…

it makes for a much more interesting interview…and rather than me presenting my portfolio to one person, we are able to discuss the work together which is much better. often there are 2 or 3 people in the room as well so locking all your work into one “binder” isn’t always the best…

if you have good work, let that do the talking…

and i do think dropping a stack of crazy sketches on a desk is much more effective than turning the pages on a $150 portfolio case…but don’t tell anyone that :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m on the same boat actually. I’ve just finished my portfolio review, did everything I was told to do by our instructors and graduated with a few student awards under my belt. I did buy a suede covered portfolio that was on sale but still pricey, but as I read on with the comments on here, I’m beginning to think I’m better off with a binder from office depot.

I have to ask first- did you say that this designer “had your dream job”, or that he had “beaten you out for your dream job in the same round of interviews”?..
To me those two situations are very different,
Unfortunately, I think that being hired is sometimes relevant to no more than “being in the right place at the right time”.
It sucks to imagine that sometimes it doesn’t matter how talented you are, or how perfect your portfolio is, or how smooth your interviewing skills are.
But I think that it is occasionally true.

I have watched the interview process for two different product design positions where I work now.
The number of resumes and portfolios submitted for any given design opening can reach easily into the thousands. Often the department is already understaffed (hence the job opening), and the person “stuck” with interviewing responsibilties is already busy. Performing interviews is often not a person’s set of preferred tasks- it can be stressful and require alot of energy. Interviewing even five or so applicants can sap your productivity for an entire workweek, between phone calls and emails for scheduling around meetings, etc, stopping to perform the actual interviews, and then discussions afterwards with the other designers. Just the interview scenario is stressful- both sides are likely anxious or uneasy.
It easily becomes another set of tasks on a someone’s list- and something that they want to get resolved with minimal effort and minmal demand upon their schedule.

The situation remains the same even in larger corporations where HR can’t be of much use in

Nah, I didn’t get beaten for the job, but that person is working at one of elite firms I’ve been admiring and the projects they work on is terribly cool…

It just crosses me that while my peers and I, have taken the great lengths on investing/promoting our portfolio, skills, personality… Someone just get’s in with a mediocre portfolio then get’s to brag about it like “hey it’s no big deal”. (I really wish I could send over this person’s link, but that wouldn’t be nice-- also they didn’t inlcude any sketches anywhere).

However, it does make sense though, because this person told me later on that the manager they report to now used to have their position.

So I think a lot of you guys were right. Sometimes, it’s just being there at the right place at the right time. A colleague also suggested that perhaps they mentioned the right salary that the company was offering during the interview.

I would like to thank all those with thoughtful and insightful comments. I’m currently content with the work I have (I should only be so greatful, I know others who can’t get jobs especially at the right salary). But sometimes, it’s nice to believe you can do better.

It is rather difficult to say during the hiring process. Do you hire someone because of their impecable work but can’t afford them when salary is discussed?

I think in the end it’s how much you’re worth. That person probably did mention a lower salary point they’re willing to accept.