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Has the portfolio become obsolete?

1 June 2011 One Comment

Is a collection of pictures and videos really the best way to sell yourself?

Some people are quite good at putting together a killer portfolio. They spend hours upon hours perfecting it until it tells a seemingly perfect story about themselves.

But is it perfect, really?

I don’t think so. Because so many of these perfect portfolio creators turn out to be not so perfect employees.

How can that be?

Simple, really. The job we are asked to do each day does not even remotely resemble the act of putting together a portfolio. Perhaps there was a time when it did, but that time has been gone for quite a while.

In our jobs, we don’t have the luxury of endless tweaking and perfecting. We get a brief. We get a very limited timeline and we go to work. And the process is messy, imperfect and rarely results in the kind of work you see in anyone’s book. But it solves client’s problems. And that’s what we get paid to do.

I’m sure a few creatives occasionally get the ‘dream’ project that contains 3 TV spots, 3 print ads, a website, a guerilla tactic and some killer social work. Oh, and a client that’s game for everything you throw at ‘em.

Typically? You get a one-off. Or a ‘campaign’ that consists of a print ad and a banner. Perhaps some search copy thrown in for good measure.

Important work? Yes. Book worthy? Almost never. At least not in the way we’ve been taught.

But maybe it’s time to rethink the portfolio. Instead of simply seeing perfectly crafted ads, I want to know the real you. How do you work? What problems have you solved? How quickly can you get through an assignment? Tell me a story, paint a picture. Do whatever you need to do to give me a more comprehensive look at who you will be when become a member of my team.

What will the finished product look like? I haven’t got a clue. But the one thing I do know is each person’s ‘story’ should read like no other. It might be one part photo gallery, one part blog and one part video journal. It could be a comic strip. It doesn’t really matter. It just matters that it lets people know what to expect when they hire you.

So where’s my fancy multi-media blog-video journal-photo collage-comic strip thingy, you might ask?

I don’t have one. But I’m working on it. And I can promise you it’s gonna be messy and imperfect. Just like me.

- TJ Bennett

One Comment »

  • And Shakers » Blog Archive » Rebrand yourself said:

    [...] changed (become more digital, for instance)? Make sure your site reflects this. Right or wrong (it’s wrong, by the way) many people still view the portfolio as the sole representation of who you are. Make sure [...]

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