Portfolio questions

23 Jul 2007 - 3:48am
7 years ago
8 replies
505 reads
Morten Hjerde
2007

I have a couple of questions. Say, in the hypotethical, a-hem, case that I
were to prepare a IxD portfolio that could be presented to a US employer.
There would be some cultural differences (I'm european) and I would want to
steer clear of the worst mess-ups.

1. Where I am from, its expected that you are somewhat modest and you expect
that the reader "reads between the lines". This is of course just a social
contract. Same or different in the US?

2. What about tone of voice? I'm not going to be flippant, but how dry do I
have to be?

3. How big? As I'm collecting examples and screendumps, this is growing.
"Hey, we did some nice work on this one", etc, etc, you get the picture .
Should I limit the portfolio to a handful of examples?

Any other big no-no or yes-yes?

(I have read the previous discussions about portfolios on this list and they
were great. Very helpful.)

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

Comments

23 Jul 2007 - 8:44am
jrrogan
2005

I think some answers to your questions could be "it depends"...

What does it depend on? It depends on the purpose of your portfolio:
What type of job are you trying to get.
Who are the clients your trying to attract.
What is the image you are trying to project.

In the US as in many places, arrogance is a poor image to project, if for no
other reason then it is almost always difficult to manage an arrogant
person.

Having said that, the US is quite responsive to spelling out how "great" the
"projects" you worked on were/turned out/etc. The US can be very literal,
and not respond well to nuanced queues.

Appropriate humor/tone is generally better accepted on the West Coast then
the East Coast, and should never be more then an enhancement to describe
your work. In your personal details, humor is fair game.

As far as # of screens, as long as they're organized very well, the more the
merrier. Keep in mind that minimal excellent examples are often more then
enough, (this probably shows better).

I've recently reviewed many portfolios for an opening in NYC, it would've
been great if people would "get to the point", and "keep it simple" in their
portfolios. I wanted to see examples and simple straight forward details on
related process. A Portfolio which was an email with attached images and
descriptions might have ended up being pretty much as good as any portfolio.

Of course a portfolio would've been better, as I could've shared a link
easier.

Rich

23 Jul 2007 - 11:09am
Morten Hjerde
2007

Thanks, lots of good advice!

I especially need to keep in mind your comment about arrogance. I know it is
very easy to come across as arrogant in a foregin language. One tend to use
sentences that are a bit short and terse. "yes" instead of "yes, please" :-)
In my language we don't have a general adverbial like the english "please".
We mainly do without, most of the ones we have sounds overly formal.

I'll try to be bold, polite and well organized. Back to work!

Morten

On 7/23/07, Rich Rogan <jrrogan at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I think some answers to your questions could be "it depends"...
>
> What does it depend on? It depends on the purpose of your portfolio:
> What type of job are you trying to get.
> Who are the clients your trying to attract.
> What is the image you are trying to project.
>
> In the US as in many places, arrogance is a poor image to project, if for
> no
> other reason then it is almost always difficult to manage an arrogant
> person.
>
> Having said that, the US is quite responsive to spelling out how "great"
> the
> "projects" you worked on were/turned out/etc. The US can be very literal,
> and not respond well to nuanced queues.
>
> Appropriate humor/tone is generally better accepted on the West Coast then
> the East Coast, and should never be more then an enhancement to describe
> your work. In your personal details, humor is fair game.
>
> As far as # of screens, as long as they're organized very well, the more
> the
> merrier. Keep in mind that minimal excellent examples are often more then
> enough, (this probably shows better).
>
> I've recently reviewed many portfolios for an opening in NYC, it would've
> been great if people would "get to the point", and "keep it simple" in
> their
> portfolios. I wanted to see examples and simple straight forward details
> on
> related process. A Portfolio which was an email with attached images and
> descriptions might have ended up being pretty much as good as any
> portfolio.
>
> Of course a portfolio would've been better, as I could've shared a link
> easier.
>
> Rich
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
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>

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com

23 Jul 2007 - 11:38am
Dante Murphy
2006

Morten-

As Rich mentioned, the context is very important. Here are a few
general rules that I follow, and that I apply when reviewing candidates.

1. Know what job you are applying for, and tailor your entire message to
it. This is more important for people in our field than others, since
it is more or less "what we do", but it's good advice for anyone. If
you're applying for a production-oriented position (entry level or
mid-level in a large enterprise), then your story should be about speed,
multi-tasking, and efficiency. If you're applying to be a creative
director, then demonstrate innovation and collaboration as your primary
skills.

2. If your portfolio includes work that your potential employer will
find difficult to understand, then translate for them. This applies not
only to language, but also to the nuances of a particular industry. I
often have to put in a disclaimer about the constraints of working in a
highly regulated industry when I show my work for pharmaceutical
companies.

3. Proofread. Then proofread again. Spelling errors really count with
some people, and I am one of them. It's a clear indicator of attention
to detail.

4. Hint at personality in your resume/CV/portfolio, but save your charm
and wit for the face-to-face. First of all, it will play better there,
and you can gauge your audience's reaction by their body language.
Someone who is personally engaging is someone I want to work with...in
fact, this is a factor whether I am hiring or the candidate. But for
the resume, think along SEO terms...keyword density, brevity, lack of
repetition. (I never thought of it that way, but I like it!)

5. Regarding the resume and CV, keep in mind that often a recruiter or
human resources person might be the gatekeeper, so be sure to include
everything you can do, not just the things you are an expert in. When
you are phone-screened, then you can say that you are "intermediate" or
"novice" at a skill and let the company decide if they want to proceed.

I hope that these tips help you. If you'd like me to review your
portfolio when it's ready, I'd be happy to do so. Especially if you
might consider coming to work in Philadelphia....

Best,
Dante

Dante Murphy | Director of Information Architecture | D I G I T A S H E
A L T H
229 South 18th Street, 2nd Floor | Rittenhouse Square | Philadelphia, PA
19103
Office: 215 399 3456 | Fax: 215 545 4440
Email: dmurphy at digitashealth.com
www.digitashealth.com
-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of
Morten Hjerde
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 5:48 AM
To: IXDA list
Subject: [IxDA Discuss] Portfolio questions

I have a couple of questions. Say, in the hypotethical, a-hem, case that
I
were to prepare a IxD portfolio that could be presented to a US
employer.
There would be some cultural differences (I'm european) and I would want
to
steer clear of the worst mess-ups.

1. Where I am from, its expected that you are somewhat modest and you
expect
that the reader "reads between the lines". This is of course just a
social
contract. Same or different in the US?

2. What about tone of voice? I'm not going to be flippant, but how dry
do I
have to be?

3. How big? As I'm collecting examples and screendumps, this is growing.
"Hey, we did some nice work on this one", etc, etc, you get the picture
.
Should I limit the portfolio to a handful of examples?

Any other big no-no or yes-yes?

(I have read the previous discussions about portfolios on this list and
they
were great. Very helpful.)

--
Morten Hjerde
http://sender11.typepad.com
________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
Questions .................. list at ixda.org
Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org

23 Jul 2007 - 11:53am
.pauric
2006

Dante: "3. Proofread. Then proofread again. Spelling errors really
count with some people, and I am one of them. It's a clear indicator
of attention to detail."

Yes, there is no excuse for not paying attention to detail. Speaking
as a dyslexic and someone who has researched the subject I'd say
there's argument for a correlation between weak literacy skills and
strong visual spacial skills.

To exclude designers based on a few spelling mistakes is doing
yourself a disservice in my humble opinion, said opinion based on
being pissed off when people cant see past basic stuff that isn't
necessary for doing a fantastic job.

We're not copy writers for a reason.

regards - pauric

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23 Jul 2007 - 12:02pm
SemanticWill
2007

Have a friend proof your written work. And I attach to Pauric's advice a
great big "It Depends," on the position. If it's a design position - and
the portfolio is fantastic, that should be the deciding factor. But. I once
got a resume from a person seeking a business analyst position that
highlighted their "attention to detial" That applicant didn't get an
invitation to interview.

24 Jul 2007 - 2:52am
Adrian Howard
2005

On 23 Jul 2007, at 18:38, Dante Murphy wrote:

[snip]
> 1. Know what job you are applying for, and tailor your entire
> message to
> it. This is more important for people in our field than others, since
> it is more or less "what we do", but it's good advice for anyone. If
> you're applying for a production-oriented position (entry level or
> mid-level in a large enterprise), then your story should be about
> speed,
> multi-tasking, and efficiency. If you're applying to be a creative
> director, then demonstrate innovation and collaboration as your
> primary
> skills.
[snip]

I'd disagree with that _slightly_. The primary part of your sell does
need to be targeted for your job, but I personally find some sign
that you can do more than one thing a good.

I prefer to see portfolios that have a focus on the job, with some
interesting work in other fields also mentioned - but that's just me :-)

Adrian

24 Jul 2007 - 5:49pm
Will Parker
2007

On Jul 23, 2007, at 10:38 AM, Dante Murphy wrote:

> 1. Know what job you are applying for, and tailor your entire
> message to
> it. This is more important for people in our field than others, since
> it is more or less "what we do", but it's good advice for anyone. If
> you're applying for a production-oriented position (entry level or
> mid-level in a large enterprise), then your story should be about
> speed,
> multi-tasking, and efficiency. If you're applying to be a creative
> director, then demonstrate innovation and collaboration as your
> primary
> skills.

> 5. Regarding the resume and CV, keep in mind that often a recruiter or
> human resources person might be the gatekeeper, so be sure to include
> everything you can do, not just the things you are an expert in. When
> you are phone-screened, then you can say that you are
> "intermediate" or
> "novice" at a skill and let the company decide if they want to
> proceed.

I've had reasonably good success with a resume that covers all the
skills and experience that are relevant to my current career. I use a
hybrid 2-page format with the following sections:

1. Short executive summary
2. Short skills list, including software and computer languages. (A
keyword list to get past any automated resume scanner.)
3. Experience - significant work done and positions held by company,
chronologically
4. Education - focus on career-specific coursework and projects.

You can mix and match these as you like, but I found my interview
rate went up significantly after I added #1 for HR and #2 for the
automated keyword scanners very much in vogue here in the US.

That gets me past the HR filter to the small pile of interview
candidates on the hiring manager's desk. However, the resume is
merely a reference document.

You need to grab the hiring manager's interest. You need to tell a
compelling story in your cover letter. Your story, as Dante suggests,
should focus on who you are and what you can do to MAKE THE MANAGER'S
LIFE SIMPLER.

We know you can solve problems for humans. You need to convince the
boss that you _will_ solve hers.

- Will

Will Parker
wparker at ChannelingDesign.com

“I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products.” -
Steve Jobs

26 Jul 2007 - 10:10am
Matt Theakston
2007

Morten -

As a european (englishman) who has interviewed in the U.S, i would say i had
suffered in being a little backward in coming forward. Being understated
about what you do, which is a little more common back home probably has the
possiblilty of being misread a little. At least from my experience. so yep,
be bold. The other thing is just display process (lots of people can display
slick final products). obvious but essential, at least in my opinion.

my 2 pence worth..

Matt

On 7/24/07, Will Parker <wparker at channelingdesign.com> wrote:
>
> On Jul 23, 2007, at 10:38 AM, Dante Murphy wrote:
>
> > 1. Know what job you are applying for, and tailor your entire
> > message to
> > it. This is more important for people in our field than others, since
> > it is more or less "what we do", but it's good advice for anyone. If
> > you're applying for a production-oriented position (entry level or
> > mid-level in a large enterprise), then your story should be about
> > speed,
> > multi-tasking, and efficiency. If you're applying to be a creative
> > director, then demonstrate innovation and collaboration as your
> > primary
> > skills.
>
> > 5. Regarding the resume and CV, keep in mind that often a recruiter or
> > human resources person might be the gatekeeper, so be sure to include
> > everything you can do, not just the things you are an expert in. When
> > you are phone-screened, then you can say that you are
> > "intermediate" or
> > "novice" at a skill and let the company decide if they want to
> > proceed.
>
> I've had reasonably good success with a resume that covers all the
> skills and experience that are relevant to my current career. I use a
> hybrid 2-page format with the following sections:
>
> 1. Short executive summary
> 2. Short skills list, including software and computer languages. (A
> keyword list to get past any automated resume scanner.)
> 3. Experience - significant work done and positions held by company,
> chronologically
> 4. Education - focus on career-specific coursework and projects.
>
> You can mix and match these as you like, but I found my interview
> rate went up significantly after I added #1 for HR and #2 for the
> automated keyword scanners very much in vogue here in the US.
>
> That gets me past the HR filter to the small pile of interview
> candidates on the hiring manager's desk. However, the resume is
> merely a reference document.
>
> You need to grab the hiring manager's interest. You need to tell a
> compelling story in your cover letter. Your story, as Dante suggests,
> should focus on who you are and what you can do to MAKE THE MANAGER'S
> LIFE SIMPLER.
>
> We know you can solve problems for humans. You need to convince the
> boss that you _will_ solve hers.
>
> - Will
>
> Will Parker
> wparker at ChannelingDesign.com
>
>
> "I wish developing great products was as easy as writing a check. If
> that were the case, then Microsoft would have great products." -
> Steve Jobs
>
>
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://beta.ixda.org/guidelines
> List Help .................. http://beta.ixda.org/help
> Unsubscribe ................ http://beta.ixda.org/unsubscribe
> Questions .................. list at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://beta.ixda.org
>

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