Avoid Common Errors When Showing Your Design Portfolio

DESIGNERS. A new guide entitled “Creating and Presenting a Powerful Portfolio” can help you avoid some common mistakes when presenting your work to advertising a marketing executives. The guide was produced by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for creative professionals.

To identify the most common mistakes, The Creative Group commissioned an independent research firm to conduct a national survey of advertising and marketing executives.

The number-one complaint voiced by survey respondents was that portfolios that showed more style than substance. Thirty-two percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed said the biggest misstep creative professionals make when assembling their portfolios is including samples that don’t show value provided to the company. Lack of organization was the second most common blunder, cited by 19 percent of respondents.

The chart below shows how advertising and marketing executives responded when asked, “In your opinion, which of the following is the single most common mistake creative professionals make when assembling a portfolio that will be presented to a potential employer?”

“Creative professionals often think their work speaks for itself and, unfortunately, it doesn’t,” said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. “Compelling design has a story behind it, and it’s vital for job seekers to provide that narrative so employers can see how they think and solve business problems.”

The Creative Group offers four tips for building and presenting a portfolio that demonstrates value to potential employers:

Prepare. Before meeting with a hiring manager, research the organization to assess its particular needs and which work samples might best address them. Also, ask the prospective employer about the format of the portfolio review process. For example, find out how long you’ll have to present, how many people will be in attendance and whether they prefer to review hard-copy or online samples.

Paint a clear picture. Make it easy for reviewers to evaluate your book and recognize what you can bring to the company. Label each piece with the client’s name (assuming you have their permission), project objective, your role, and any positive outcomes.

Talk the talk. Presenting your work confidently and intelligently can make hiring managers take a second look at samples they may otherwise have missed. Develop short, engaging sound bites that tell the story of how each piece solved a business problem or filled a specific need. Don’t be afraid to show enthusiasm and passion for your work.

Take it for a test run. Before you officially present your book, turn to a trusted colleague, mentor or member of your professional network for feedback. Consider using social media sites to solicit critiques from your online contacts. This can help you fine-tune the content and delivery of your portfolio.

About the Survey
The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 500 telephone interviews — approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.

About The Creative Group
The Creative Group specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at www.creativegroup.com.

LINKS

Free Guide: Creating and Presenting a Powerful Portfolio

RELATED POSTS

The Creative Group Publishes 2011 Salary Guide

Report Describes the Creative Team of the Future

 

 

Conference Celebrates International Freelancers Day Sept. 23

International Freelancers Day is a global initiative to celebrate independent workers and the tremendous impact they have on our economic growth. The movement was founded by three long-term freelancers–Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia–who are experts in the freelance market, making the transition into self-employment, and building a profitable and enjoyable solo business.

International Freelancers Day will be celebrated on Friday, September 23 with a free, online video conference that is expected to connect tens of thousands of independent workers and other viewers from all over the globe. The conference will start at 10 am EST and run through 6:30 pm.

Gandia, Savage, Slaunwhite, and 14 other authors and thought leaders will present sessions on topics such as pricing, attracting clients, working more productively, outsourcing administrative tasks, promoting yourself, and growing your business. The goal of the conference is to offer strategies that can help take your “business of one” to the next level.

“With many economists and thought leaders heralding the arrival of the ‘freelance economy,’ there’s never been a better time to celebrate freelancers and solo professionals the world over,” says Ed Gandia, co-author of “The Wealthy Freelancer.”

A record number of professionals are currently pursuing freelance work — either by necessity or simply because they want to. According U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, one-third of the workforce is now self-employed or freelance. As a growing portion of the labor force continues to shift in this direction (a 10% year-to-date increase, according to SurePayroll’s Small Business Scorecard Review in July) many of these professionals are now seeking better ways to not just survive — but to thrive — in the new “gig economy.”

Register for the free conference at: http://www.internationalfreelancersday.com

2011 Freelance Industry Report

Earlier this month, Ed Gandia released the “2011 Freelance Industry Report: Data and Analysis of Freelancer Demographics, Earnings, Habits, and Attitudes.” The report presents data from more than 1200 freelancers who responded to a survey conducted through Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail during a nine-day period in August, 2011.

Self-employed individuals from 37 different fields responded to Gandia’s survey. The report tabulated statistics and findings from the top 10 fields represented among the respondents:

  • Writer (18% of respondents)
  • Copywriter (12%)
  • Designer (11%)
  • Translator (9%)
  • Web developer (7%)
  • Editor/copy editor (6%)
  • Marketing professional (4%)
  • Business consultant (4%)
  • Software developer (3%)
  • Virtual assistant (2%)

2011 Freelance Industry Report by Ed GandiaOther types of freelancers who responded to the survey included bloggers, illustrators, photographers, video editors, authors, SEO specialists/consultants, fashion designers, videographers, accountants, engineers, bookkeepers, and social-media consultants.

The report includes 70 charts that provide insight such as:

  • The biggest challenges freelancers face and how those challenges differ by profession, location, experience and other factors.
  • Attitudes toward freelancing, the economy’s impact on freelance work, and freelancers’ business outlook for the next 12 months.
  • Income trends, hourly rates, billable time, and how different freelancers price their services.
  • Lifestyle choices, including average hours worked, the importance of free time and flexibility, and attitudes toward re-entering the traditional workforce.
  • How freelancers attract clients today, how much time they spend promoting their services and what marketing strategies they’re planning to implement over the next year.

One major finding is that “Professionals who are freelancing as a result of a layoff or being downsized are more likely to earn less as a freelancer than peers who planned their way to self-employment. However, 80% of these ‘accidental’ freelancers are much happier now than they were as employees.”

Download the free 50-page report  from the International Freelancers Day website.

LINKS

International Freelancers Day Conference

2011 Freelance Industry Report by Ed Gandia

Book: The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle

 

The Creative Group Publishes 2011 Salary Guide

DESIGNERS. WRITERS. The Creative Group, the staffing organization that places creative, advertising, marketing, web, and public relations professionals with a variety of firms, has published its 2011 Salary Guide. Designed to guide companies that plan to hire creative professionals this year, the guide features projected starting salaries for the more than 100 creative, interactive, marketing, and PR positions that The Creative Group recruits.

The Creative Group 2011 Salary GuideSome of the titles for which high and low projected starting salaries are listed include: creative director, interactive creative director, senior graphic designer, mobile apps designer, illustrator, technical illustrator, video producer, blogger, podcaster, online editor, web content writer, copywriter, proofreader, social media designer, SEO/SEM specialist, event/trade-show manager, marketing director, and PR agency account executive.

The content of the 2011 Salary Guide is based on thousands of freelance and full-time placements that The Creative Group makes each year. It includes local-market insights from staffing and recruiting teams in different cities, data from surveys of advertising and marketing executives, and an analysis of the 2011 hiring environment and trends.

For example, the report observes that “Although companies are gradually getting the green light to hire, they are still looking to maximize their budget dollars.” So, when hiring for full-time positions, they tend to seek candidates who have a range of skills and experience and can offer expertise outside their specialties.

The guide lists the nine most in-demand positions, average starting salaries nationwide, and methods for calculating and adjusting local salary ranges.

Not surprisingly, salaries have to be adjusted upward in cities such as San Francisco, Boston, San Jose, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York. Salaries tend to be lower than the national averages in cities such as: El Paso, Texas; Sioux City, Iowa; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Youngstown, Ohio. Cities with salaries right around the national average include: Salt Lake City, Utah; Milwaukee, WI; Cincinnati, OH; and St. Louis, MO.

The 2011 Salary Guide also explains “how to turn freelancers into rock stars.” The report notes that “Firms are finding that augmenting full-time staff with freelancers provides protection from staffing mistakes, whether the economy is contracting or expanding.”

The Creative Group is a division of Robert Half International, Inc., the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm.

The Creative Group’s 2011 Salary Guide is just one of several resources available through the Salary Center on The Creative Group’s website. A salary calculator and list of job descriptions are also available.

The resource center of the Robert Half International is another good source of career-development, staffing, and job-search advices. White papers include “Conducting an Online Job Search” and “The 30 Most Common Mistakes Managers Make in an Uncertain Economy.”

 

 

Author Presents Writing Tips for Visual Thinkers

DESIGNERS. In a free, hour-long AIGA DesignCast on June 2, Andrea Marks presented “Writing Tips for Visual Thinkers.” The tips were culled from her book entitled “Writing for Visual Thinkers,” which was based on a course she developed at Oregon State University to help designers feel more comfortable writing. Entitled “Contemporary Issues in Design,” the university course was based on the premise that students would write more if they were encouraged to write about a topic they are all already passionate about.

Although visual thinkers tend to be more comfortable processing information visually, no one is solely a visual thinker or verbal thinker, Marks emphasized in the DesignCast. When you incorporate verbal thinking into your approach to a task, you’re likely to strengthen both your verbal and visual skills. She pointed out the both Thomas Edison and Leonardo DaVinci both kept notebooks filled with both sketches and written notes.

Marks observed that while designers work with text and type all the time, many lack confidence when it comes to expressing their thoughts in writing. To help students get over this fear, Marks found ways designers could use writing not only to present their work, but also to generate ideas at the beginning of a project. She mentioned four of these during the DesignCast.

Mind Maps and Concept Maps are visual diagrams of words that relate to a central concept.

Freewriting is a technique that can help bring hidden ideas into the visible world. After the focus of the “freewrite” has been defined, you give yourself a time limit (from 3 to 5 minutes), then start writing whatever pops into your mind. The key is to relax, keep your pen on the paper, and not worry about grammar, punctuation, or spelling. If an intriguing idea results from your first round of freewriting, circle it and make that the focus of your next freewrite period. After 30 or 40 minutes, this process can result in a wealth of ideas.

Brainwriting is like a written form of brainstorming, and can attract ideas from people who feel may not feel comfortable expressing themselves orally. It starts with a structured form, on which each member of the group is given five minutes to jot down three ideas related to a certain question. When the form is passed to the next person in the group, he or she can either add three more ideas or elaborate on some of the ideas already written down.

Here are a few of the other tips Andrea Marks presented:

Carry sketchbook with you at all times. Jot down images and ideas wherever you go. Enjoy the tactile, physical nature of writing in a sketchbook. It can be inspiring, and a pleasant diversion from daily digital life.

Read well-crafted writing and ask yourself why it’s good. Branch out and read writing in a variety of forms, such as short stories, poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. The best writers are prodigious readers,

Strive to find the essence of what you want to say, just as you work to distill a variety of ideas into a company logo. Be prepared to write several drafts, just as you create several iterations of a design. Have a skilled writer proofread or edit your work. Or ask someone to read your writing aloud.

Use sticky notes to write an outline. It’s more fun, and you can move your thoughts and ideas around to find the best flow.

Marks points out that there are many ways you must present yourself through words, including resumes, cover letters, blog entries, grant proposals and design briefs. If you spend some time each day honing your writing skills, you’ll gain the confidence and ability to handle all of these requirements and add your voice to shaping the future of design.

In the introduction to the book “Writing for Visual Thinkers,” Ellen Lupton writes: “I can’t think of a single, well-known designer who doesn’t write well…They have all published books or essays about their own work, as well about bigger issues in the world of design.”

“Writing for Visual Thinkers, 2nd Edition” is published by Peachpit. The 144-page book includes a companion CD with an e-book containing hundreds of links to articles, books, websites, blogs, wikis, video, and audio podcasts by writers and designers. It also includes exercises that that push you to explore writing strategies that can enrich your design work. You can preview pages and a sample chapter of the book on the Peachpit website.

LINKS

Writing for Visual Thinkers: A Guide for Artists and Designers (2nd Edition) (Voices That Matter)