The online creative portfolio: a paramount first impression, seen by agency creatives and recruiters, usually without the opportunity for you to speak to it first. When looking to show your best self online, there are a few simple things to consider before you send a url link to the masses. Some of these suggestions are painfully obvious, yet they are missteps we’ve seen in the most senior of creatives. Below are five suggestions for how to strengthen your digital portfolio:
Showcase strongest work first. Ensure your proudest moments are the most visible on your site. That campaign you created using groundbreaking technology or an unique idea should be front and center. Many choose to go the chronological route, but if an in-house recruiter or ECD has five minutes to review your work before moving onto the next candidate, your best work needs to be visible. Curate your work over the last five years and ensure it is clearly labeled, links are working and the still image best represents the project. For those first starting out in the biz, a minimum of at least six projects should be on your portfolio. Little enhancements are a plus: if a writer also includes great design or thoughtful UX, even better. It shows versatility and well-rounded creative sensibility.
Demonstrate your ability to tackle a problem. In order to show your thought process and involvement in the work, a concise introduction to a project can speak volumes. Creatives often don’t get credit deserved for working up front in the research phase, or a problem solved during an edit. Explain the insight, why your message resonated with consumers, how you optimized the work post-launch, or the strategy behind a particular color palette. Examples of collaboration and quick thinking in a summary allow you to vocalize your involvement. It’s also a way to highlight certain characteristics for future roles, i.e., you are an Art Director looking to move up, include successful leadership and client relationship examples to show you possess the qualities for a Creative Director role.
Consider your social media shenanigans. Depending on your level of self-awareness, it may be wise to consider removing links to your personal Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. accounts. Social media is a great way to get to know the true you, so either be thoughtful of your content, or lock it down to avoid derailing a possible dream job. Believe it or not, hiring decisions are affected when you post multiple pictures on Instagram of you drinking PBRs at noon and complaining that no one will hire you (true story). I know of a CCO who will first look at social media before reviewing any ad work. It’s an excellent source for genuine voice, tonality and character. It can help you if done correctly, e.g., to show range if your ad work is serious but you want to convey a sense of humor. Be thoughtful where you guide your audience—there will be plenty of time down to road to expose your faults.
Tell your story. Include a page with some semblance of a resume. Of course a LinkedIn page would suffice, but why navigate away from your site? A simple, no frills rundown of places of employment will do, but give it personality so you stand out from the masses. Relevant things to include in this section would be awards, personal interests, contact info and a short bio. If you happen to be an art director, this is a good place to show you can write. If your project work has a predominantly serious tone, here is a place where you can exemplify humor. You get the idea. Concerned you’ve jumped around too much? Then list the agencies to at least give a sense of history.
Speak to other creative outlets. Most every agency creative I know also dabbles in other creative outlets. A great mind once told me that pulling from life experience is the best way to generate ideas. You are more likely to mentally connect the dots in different ways if you are creative in other aspects of life. Great advertising agencies will find value in your awesomely weird inventions and peripheral artistic passions. An art director who also happens to be a published author, a writer who paints, poster designers, photographers, musicians, florists, etc. Having another creative outlet lends to the work you do at your day job, so don’t hesitate to showcase those interests. That jewelry design collaboration can position you in a unique way. It shows you don’t only think in :30 scripts, and the end goal is how you differentiate your work from a large pool of candidates.
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