Updating my portfolio 3 years out of school

The other day, out of the blue, I got an email about a ID job opening at a company that is my absolute dream, and that I’m somewhat uniquely qualified for. I’ve known several higher level employees at this company for several years, including the director of product, who emailed me. I haven’t even been considering changing jobs, but If I got this job I’d take it in a heartbeat. However, since I haven’t been looking for a job, my portfolio, resume, etc hasn’t been updated since I graduated college 3 years ago. Unfortunately, all though I have worked on quite a few products in the last few years, only a few have made it out to the market at this point. My best, most impressive projects are all still on their way to being out on the market.

I currently work as a industrial designer at a small design firm, the job I’d be applying to is a corporate job at a medium sized company (20-100 employees).

So a few questions: Can I include projects in my portfolio that haven’t been publicly released yet? What about projects that were finished, but the client ultimately decided to not comercialize (so they will perhaps never see the light of day)? Also, what about including images/sketches/drawings etc from the process for various projects. I assume all that is covered under my NDA. If that’s the case, and I can’t include any of that, I don’t have a whole lot to update my portfolio with. I’m considering including several school and internship projects in my portfolio, as well as glamour shots of several of the products that are out on the market. At this point (3 years out of school), would that be a major disadvantage?

I know I could answer a few of these questions by asking my boss, however I don’t want to tell him I’m looking for other jobs, at least not until I’m a little further along in the interview process.

Could you ask as just a general inquire? Say you’re trying to update your portfolio and website so you can continue to gain visibility and credibility, not because you’re looking for a job but because you want to be known for your great work, which benefits your company who employs you.

It is a tricky line to follow on this. I was in this same position when I was applying for new jobs while still employed. If I remember, I included the few projects that were on the market as well as products that were not completed or did not make it to market. In my portfolio I mentioned in the description if it was on the market or not and what my role was. In most of my interviews they have understood that not everything can be shown and as long as you can back up your experiences and knowledge they are ok,

This is a common conundrum that relatively fresh designers find themselves in and has been discussed many times on the forums.
I suggest to do a little bit of digging in the employment forum.

As a general note, I’d say that showing work that is not in the public domain is risky.
Not just because your current employer would not like it if he/she found out and you are most likely legally prohibited to do so but also because it might make your interviewer think twice about how you handle confidential information.

As with most things in life, it’s all about the right balance. If you feel comfortable with showing the concept work because it is already a few years old or it’s not a direct competitor, go for it but be prepared that you might get questions if this has been cleared with your current employer.

I’d say that if you have a couple projects that are fleshed out and show your approach to design and skill set, it’s ok to just talk about other things you worked on without showing any protected images.
Design is about more than just hot sketches, modelmaking and hero shots. You can talk about your approach and strategy on how you tackle a brief and move throw the different stages without having to specifically point to a process board.

When interviewing designers, I always find talking about design philosophy and approach just as valuable as seeing hot skills, as long as there are a few examples that show that those are there too.

Best of luck!