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4. Research the best way to present yourself.
Defining your audience and determining their basic category information
should always take place before you begin your portfolio. They may be all you need.
But in some situations, you want to impress an audience of few—or one. If you're
well-organized (see Chapter 5, “Organizing Your Work”), you may be able to quickly
compile a version of your portfolio for one special company.
Search questions to answer about a specific firm:
• Are they busy? Are they hiring?
• hat is their aesthetic? Do I like it? ould I be proud to work with the ?
• hat's their philosophy or way of working with clients? Could I work within
• Does their website or other official address tell you how they like to be
approached? Email? Letter? Phone?
• ho are their decision akers? hat does their personal work look like?
• hat are they like to work for?
You may wonder why you need to ask these questions. You're applying for a
job, not marrying the company! Yes and no. If you're hired, you'll probably spend
more time at the office than you do with your signifi-
cant other. You need to know that those hours will be
well-spent and that the projects you take on will
enhance your portfolio. Also, you should consider the
other side. If you are hired, but it's not a good fit, you
might not stay hired for long. You could have used that
time to find a more compatible situation.
For a full-throttle search on one company,
word-of-mouth information from personal and local
contacts is the most precious and useful source, partic-
ularly to find out if the company offers a solid work
Designers or potential designers
should know why they're pre-
senting their work to that partic-
ular design firm, what it is that
interested them, and what they're
looking to do. I hired a guy, many
years ago, who worked at a great
design agency in Minneapolis.
His was, quite frankly, the best
portfolio I think I'd ever seen in
my life. We hired him and in get-
ting to know him and understand
his philosophy, we started to
realize that we weren't in sync.
We were more about strategy and
solving business problems. He
was more about formal design
aesthetics. It didn't work at all.
—Bill Cahan
Search tools
No matter the scope of your search, you'll be
using tools that you probably take for granted: personal
networks, periodicals, and the Internet, particularly
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