Qualifications Vs Portfolio + Skills. So, how are you going to impress your future employer or client?

This is a discussion we always face at school, and yes, they are both important, but one stands out just a bit more than the other.

When I think about how many job interviews I have attended throughout my career and what was needed to get you that job, you would be surprised what was the most important to the company and individual interviewing me. Yes, the first thing they wanted to consider was my qualifications, but the focus always went further onto my experience and evidence of this experience. So what can you do to show that you have this experience, knowledge and skills they so desperately need? Your portfolio!

How? – Make it creative and unique.

But, not just any type of portfolio – they want something a lot more than that. They also want to see how you have come up with the design solutions you are presenting in your portfolio – how did you come to these solutions and how relevant are they to what was needed?

Just presenting a fancy design because you think it looks good, or it has the brandmark of a big name will not cut it, believe me. Keep all of your notes and creative processes on file so that you can include them within your portfolio examples. Take the viewer on a journey and keep them travelling through right to the end with interest.

Here is a useful checklist to help you plan and produce your creative portfolio (which applies to all designers including Graphic Designers, Textile and Fashion Designers):

Your portfolio is not about you.

It’s about what you can do for an employer. As you create your portfolio, ask yourself, “Who is my audience?” Are you applying to a corporation? A consultancy? A toy company? Your portfolio should align with your employment goals

How should you produce it? You are going to need a digital plus a printed version of your Portfolio, so it is a good idea to plan this right from the start.

The simple way is to save your Portfolio as a PDF for digital (online for download or viewing and presentation via your laptop or iPad) and another PDF in CMYK which you can get printed in as high a quality as possible. If you are producing something unique and totally different, you will need to take into account how you will be able to produce this so it can be seen digitally plus printed.

Here are just a few areas we work with our students on:

Produce a storyboard:

to help you organise your portfolio before you start bringing everything together – make a visual plan!

Focus on the features:

and benefits of your work. Select and include only the work you can explain fully, so don’t just place designs that you have done which have had no benefits plus little or no meaning

Try and bring it to life:

with some photography by taking some photographs of yourself and your studio/place of work or desk area. Try and include some photos which you can connect to the work you are showing (bring it to life)

Don’t be boring:

add your own voice and personality to your portfolio style and don’t just use visuals, use descriptive text for each of your projects

Establish Priorities:

 (Hierarchy) Visual hierarchy is the organisation and prioritisation of information in relevant meaningful ways

Typography is very important: 

for your portfolio. Find the correct typeface and layout style which compliments you and your portfolio


don’t try to be too clever with your design style and make it difficult for the viewer to read what you have included. Remember that the viewer will spend an average of 5-10 minutes looking through your portfolio, so keep it simple, informative and easy to follow

Add your Resume:

demonstrate your career, qualifications, skills and knowledge progression clearly and easy to follow. This can be added at the end or the beginning of your portfolio, plus additional copies which you can hand out at interviews or meetings.

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