Recent graduate? Industrial design portfolio tips

Many experienced designers and design managers seem to agree that there appears to be a gap between what Universities are telling students, and what employers are looking for with regard to design portfolios. I’ve had some great feedback and advice on my own portfolio and in an effort to close this gap I gave a talk at this years New Designers Exhibition in London.

If any experienced design professionals have anything more to add on the topic, it would be great to hear as I’ll be giving a similar talk again at the V&A Museum for London Design Festival - and would include any suggestions. See link for the talk at ND16 - and if any recent grads are seeing this hopefully you get something out of it.

Great talk Nick, thanks for posting. Wish I had seen this when I was a senior.

Nice one Nick, this is great, what a brilliant resource for new designers, and a great reminder for experienced designers too!

I recently re-did my portfolio and website, showing it to colleagues, ex-colleagues, connections and even old bosses. The best bit of feedback I got was with an old boss, he completely tore it down, asked me all the questions that made me realise I was never really happy with it in the first place. It was brilliant. “What makes you stand out? Why are you different from anybody that shows the research, sketch, ideation, prototype, CAD, testing, final product scenario? Why will I remember you? What one thing will I take away from meeting you? Why on earth is it printed and in a portfolio binder?!!” So I now have a totally different portfolio that concentrates on how I work rather than what I’ve worked on, which is tricky to get across, but I’m much happier presenting it!

So I guess if there were any things I’d add to your list of topics that I recently learned:

What makes you stand out and why will I remember you?
What makes you, well, you? How will I refer to you when looking back through the list of candidates? Why will I remember you? Will I remember you?

Tailor your portfolio
Don’t just roll out the same portfolio for everybody you speak to, make it relevant, you do it with your CV and cover letter, so why not do it with your portfolio? What makes you relevant for the role you’re going for or person you’re talking to?

I also really agree with your comment about ‘yeah, that was first year’ you definitely have to be able to show some enthusiasm about the work you’re showing! I’ve often found when interviewing students (usually for internships rather than graduate roles), that you see the same project over and over again, and the people that stand out have either approached it differently, presented it differently or also shown self-initiated projects (knowing that the interviewer will see the same thing over and over!).