What's the best look for a Communication Portfolio?

In my current job, I’m in a Communication position. (That’s not my background, but I’m pretty good at it.) In the past nearly three years, I’ve created all sorts of stuff, about half of it has been released to the public, the other half used in trainings and as other professional supports. That’s not including the web pages I’ve designed for our company’s website.

So, I have a job interview next week for a Communication job (a different one than I have now) and they want to see some of my work. No biggie, since I’m planning on taking all the public documents I’ve created as examples of my work. (These are items which could easily be requested from the company, or accessed via the company’s website or through our representatives.)

I’m wondering if I should include any of the professional support stuff I’ve done. Technically, if a similiar entity requested samples of how we do this type of training, we’d gladly supply this information (and some of it was created with that type of sharing in mind for future use), and some of it may even be available via the internet on our representative’s websites. So, do I include any of this material that I’ve created? If so, how many samples of my work is enough and how much is too much?

Also, I’ve been thinking of the best way to present this. What exactly does a Communication focused portfolio look like? I’ve seen portfolios that are art based, but what’s the best way to present brochures, calendars, booklets, etc.? I’d rather not drop hundreds of dollars on something (like a leather binder), but I do want to look professional with this.

Any suggestions?

I hope you will excuse me if I use ISO paper sizes here, as I’m not sure what the US equivalent would be.

Common practice amongst design professionals is to use An A3 sized portfolio containing clear plastic sleeves, like those shown here. Into these clear sleeves you will insert A3 sheets which display your work. Approach this as you would any other design project – set up a file at the correct paper size and lay out your projects as flat spread/visuals in an attractive manner. Don’t show every page of everything you’ve done, pick the best representative bits to get your point across, and try to keep one project to one double page spread, so that when you go through your portfolio, you can show a whole project at a glance on two pages.

By creating your portfolio this way, it also means you can save your whole portfolio as a pdf, which many prospective clients/employers like to be sent digitally.

Some designers show their portfolio as a pdf of a laptop at interview – I find this a bit annoying and technology for technology’s sake. I can view the work better if it’s printed out on A3 sheets. Only show stuff on a laptop if it’s a digital/interactive piece of work. Take along live samples of anything professionally printed if it helps support what you’re showing in your portfolio.

How much you show depends on what you’re showing but somewhere about 10-15 projects is enough to get the breadth of your work across without boring the interviewer. Bear in mind that the interviewer likely has seen loads of portfolios, so don’t over do it as they WILL switch off. Don’t include any project you aren’t that happy with just to make up the numbers, as it will stand out as weak and will be the project they remember. The interviewer will be looking for consistency of quality/creativity, so one flashy project in amongst a few poor ones will not help you.

As to what you can show – anything you’ve done. Even though your employer retains the intellectual copyright on your work, there’s an industry gentleman’s agreement that a designer can use any work they’ve done in their portfolio to sell themselves. Only exclude a piece if it’s of a sensitive nature or subject to a confidentiality agreement.

Good luck!

SanVito, Creative Director and interviewer of multitudes down the years.

I’ll agree with SanVito but add a little more.

Segment your presentation into different sections (marketing, training, whatever). Take your brochures, calendars other collateral materials, put each of them into 8 1/2 x 11 plastic sleeves and put them in a binder.

Also, burn everything onto a disc or a thumb drive and use that for a leave behind.

That way the creative types will have an idea of the actual size and physical characteristics of your work. By giving them the entire portfolio as a disk, you only need to hit the high spots in your presentation, and they can go back later and examine them in detail.