What Your Portfolio Says about you

By Neisha Tweed Posted on Apr 10, 2012

Sure, you’re talented, creative and hardworking. Sure, you’re an amazing copywriter/art director and should be hired immediately and paid a whole lot of money. Sure, you’re awesome and all that good stuff.

But what does your portfolio say?

I came out of portfolio school feeling like my book didn’t fully show just how great I was. That if only people met me, or gave me an assignment, they’d see what I could really do.

However, that’s not how it works.

The reason you create a portfolio is to show people just how talented you are. You put together this collection of fake ads to show future employers that you know how to think strategically and engage people. This is where you show that you know about crafting and putting together campaigns. This is where you show off your sense of humor, your creativity and your ability to push the boundaries of advertising.

This is where you sell yourself.

Your portfolio is the trailer and you are the full-length film. No one is going to pay money to sit through a questionable story or invest hours of their time to see what might happen.

If your portfolio needs work, work on it. Don’t send it out and try to entice people with a half-baked plot. You’re selling yourself short and wasting their time.

If you don’t have a partner, get one. Use craigslist, behance, your social networks, your school’s networks, bribery. Do whatever you it takes to make sure your book is well put together.

If you don’t have enough campaigns, do more. Give yourself assignments. Look at work you hate or products you love and create new ads for them. Check out student competitions and enter them. Use their briefs to beef up your book.

If you have anything in your book that’s kinda goodish, take it out. Only put in your best work. One weak campaign can ruin the whole batch.

If you can’t see any of the campaigns you have in your book running in real life, start over. Your book should show that you have some understanding of how things work in the real world. If you have ads that a brand would never produce, whether it’s because they don’t look good or because they’re just too ridiculous, then you’re failing.

No one is going to hire you if you look like you don’t get it. They’re not going to call you in if your book looks amateurish and incomplete. No agency is going to spend time trying to help you figure out how things work and how to make ads. They want you to come in and hit the ground running.

If your book doesn’t present you as capable and creative, then it doesn’t matter how great you think you are – you won’t get interviews. You won’t get hired.

The proof is in the portfolio.

Your first assignment is selling yourself. So make sure your portfolio is saying the right things about you.


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