Posted 31 January 2019

Easy rules to keep in mind when building and sending your portfolio

Portfolio tips – we can’t get enough of them... And who better to advise on the topic than someone who has seen countless examples, and paired a huge number of creatives with both full-time jobs and freelance projects. As a design consultant at recruitment agency Represent, Hannah Caughlin helps creatives develop their careers and land the right roles. Here we share her wisdom on sending and showing your work in the best possible light.

Don’t over-design your portfolio.
Make sure your work is the main event and that your presentation is clear. Remember that the work will be completely new to the person who’s looking at it, so give them as much opportunity to engage with it as possible.

Keep it curated.
Don’t worry about fitting it into a smaller number of pages by squeezing images in. Use large images and make sure there’s not too much graphic noise around the work.

Think about who you’re approaching and how.
What kind of work, language or approach would they respond to?

We recommend sending a PDF portfolio.
You can’t always tailor a website to whoever you’re sending your work to, so we recommend sending a PDF portfolio. But of course, do include your website with your application.

Approach people for advice, rather than a job.
Find people and studios you respect in the design industry, and ask if they’d be able to spare 20 minutes to look at your portfolio and offer some advice. That’s a great way to begin communication; sending an email directly asking for an internship or whether they have a junior role could shut down the conversation straight away.

Bring samples and consider presenting in person.
Then, when you’re presenting in person, bring along any neatly produced printed samples as a point of interest, and use a slightly altered PDF from the one you sent out. You won’t need as much text, for example, because you’ll be speaking. The person you’re presenting to can’t read and listen at the same time!


Mention Hannah Caughlin
Illustration by Jiro Bevis