Portfolio, Resume & Interview Do’s & Dont’s!

Guest Blogger, Amberlee Isabella

First off, find out where you want to work. What’s your passion? Commercial or residential? Small firm or big firm?  Are you willing to relocate? Do you want to obtain your NCIDQ? There is no right or wrong answers to any of these but we could all use some tips on shaping our  job search strategies, right?


This is typically a very daunting task for anyone to wrap their mind around. Half the battle is just getting started. My recommendation is once you come with up a concept stick with it and finish it. My first portfolio was a train wreck, no lie, but I learned a lot in the process.
There are 3 major things you need to think about when putting together your portfolio.
  1. EDITING! No one has the time to see everything you’ve done all 4 or 5 years of college, put in only your best projects. Don’t convince yourself your “showing progression & evolution”. In my opinion, it’s just an excuse to include crappy work.
  2. Put your good stuff up front. Again, this comes back to time. Your potential employer will have just a few minutes to look through your work to and decided whether or no they want to schedule an interview. Don’t get hung up on chronological order.
  3. The simpler the better. Remember, unless you want to make 3 different portfolios, you need something that can be emailed, uploaded, printed and mailed.
For tips and tricks for layout check out the links that I referenced under the First Impressions: Your Brand. They’re what I use daily.


We had a lot of salary questions at NeoCon. While a few design magazines offer salary information, the best resource I’m familiar with is the salary survey provided by the AIGA. While it is primarily a tool for those in the communication arts, after speaking with many industry professionals we believe that the information is very applicable to those in the A+D community.
The survey examines professional level, geographic location in addition to offering insightful advice to young professionals. There is also an interactive salary calculator which is very insightful!


DO include unrelated work experience if it is all you have. BUT make sure you describe a useful skill set that is applicable to your potential future employer.
DO research on the company you’re applying for AND use the information to create an insightful cover letter.
DO have someone proof read your cover letter, resume and portfolio. DON’T rely on spell check.
DO mention that you are willing to relocate in either your cover letter or objective statement of your resume. Employers want to know you’re serious and not just sending your resume to every position you see available.
DO seek out leadership positions within your college, department and community.
DO seek out timeless typeface options for your resume. Whether you choose a serf or sans serif typefaces is not a huge issue, but rather that it fits with your personal brand. Limit the use of a decorative typeface.
DON’T make your resume over 1 page
DON’T overload your resume with graphics. Typically the simpler the better.
DON’T utilize every type weight option. i.e. THIS WOULD BE A BAD EXAMPLE Instead, choose 1 or two typefaces and simply change the size of the headers by 4-6 point sizes.
DON’T include a photo of yourself.
DON’T just spit back company statistics in a cover letter. IE all the Interior Design Magazine Giants are well aware of their ranking.
DON’T leave your objective blank on your resume.
DON’T lie about your software experience; or anything for that matter…
DON’T take advice blindly.


DO have a positive attitude. Don’t be “Debby Downer” and discuss your terribly difficult job search process. It’s uncomfortable for everyone.
DO dress professionally. But make sure you do some research at the firm your applying for. Every design firm has a different culture but it’s always better to be more dressed up than not enough.
DO know about the place you are interviewing at. Many interviewers will ask you what you know about the firm.
DO ask questions! At the end of the interview when they ask if you have any questions ask one! Or even better two! It’s a test to make sure that you are engaged and interested.
DO find out if you know anyone who works where you are interviewing. LinkedIn is a great resource for this.
DON’T be thrown off by crazy questions like, “Tell me how you would design a spice rack for a blind person?” or “If you were a tree what type of tree would you be?” The interviewer(s) are just trying to get to know you more. Just answer honest and thoughtfully.
DON’T be afraid to ask someone to repeat the question if you don’t think you heard it correctly.
DON’T talk in circles about your design project. Be clear, descriptive and concise.
DON’T be late! Try to arrive 10-15 minutes early.  If the directions are complicated, do a test run the day before just so your comfortable.
DON’T accept an offer on the spot. Make sure you take the time read though all of the paperwork so you can make an informed decision.
To view the full post on Career Tips & Tricks, click here!

7 responses to “Portfolio, Resume & Interview Do’s & Dont’s!

  1. Incredible! This blog looks exactly like my old
    one! It’s on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Wonderful choice of colors!

  2. Article writing is also a excitement, if you know then you
    can write or else it is complex to write.

  3. You are my inspiration , I own few blogs and very sporadically run out from to post .

  4. DO proof read your Do and Don’t page… “DON’T be late! Try to arrive 10-15 minutes early. If the directions are complicated, do a test run the day before just so your comfortable.” *You’re..not your.

  5. Where did you post the link for portfolio layout? Searched everywhere and couldn’t find it.

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