A recruiter's 4-step guide to standing out from the crowd

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There is no doubt that it is tough out there at the minute. With limited jobs and thousands of designers looking for work, it has never been more important to make sure your portfolio stands out from the crowd. But where do you start? Here are a few tips… 


1. Make it relevant

It is fantastic as a recruiter to see a designer’s diversity in a portfolio. Whether that be your weekend hobby of photography or your newly acquired skills in animation, picked up over lockdown. As an agency, we pride ourselves on getting to know our candidates and their capabilities through in-depth initial interviews and reference checking, but our clients are not privy to that call. As much as we can do my best to sell your work, your work must be extraordinary to back us up!

For instance, if an agency is looking for a freelance FMCG packaging designer, to have any chance of securing that booking - you MUST provide a PDF brimming with premium packaging design examples. Save that photography and animation work for that creative ‘all-rounder’ role.

2. Keep it simple & accessible

Going off the example above, within your portfolio there should be a few fantastic projects that display your concepts through to delivery stage. It should be easy to navigate through, giving you the best chance to show off your working style and efficiency of delivering a brief. Work that you are proud of and could talk a client through with confidence. 

It is also important to mention your portfolio needs to be accessible! If you send a huge file that a client has trouble opening, or your best work is hidden in the depths of a poorly named zip file, it simply will not be seen. Make your life easier and have one simple document (ideally under 5MB!) that you can send across. Failing that, WeTransfer is a great option for those bigger files. 

3. Spelling & Grammar

My biggest bugbear (praying I have no spelling mistakes in this blog!).

You have wowed an agency with your impressive work and industry experience, they are about to pick up the phone to invite you to interview but they then see spelling mistakes all over your CV

Attention to detail and the ability to work under pressure are prerequisites to most, if not all jobs in the creative sector. A few simple errors and lack of spell check can really tarnish your chances of securing a role. Get someone to look over your CV before you send it out to potential employers. 

4. Get out from behind the job boards

Easier said than done with the current climate, but just applying via a job board or recruiter website may not cut it. Give that agency a ring or find the hiring manager on LinkedIn and contact them directly. If you are applying via a recruiter, give us a ring! You are not pestering, and you’ll be at the forefront of our minds when that elusive job comes In. If the role you have applied for is no longer available, a member of the team will always be more than happy to chat about other roles that may be suitable.

Hannah Lawry is senior recruitment consultant at mustard MD. Header image: Taylor James.


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