Ask DN: How do you become hire-able?

7 years ago from , Frontend Software Engineer

Hey DN,

I've been looking to transition over from freelancing (mainly for small businesses) to a full-time position at a product team or agency.

I've been able to get a couple of interviews by showing them the few projects I've done for agencies here and there, but the feedback I receive after they inevitably go to someone else is that I should improve my portfolio.

So, hiring managers, and designers that work in product teams, what do you look for in a portfolio piece or case study from someone you're interviewing?


  • Sam Pierce LollaSam Pierce Lolla, 7 years ago

    Ira Glass's suggestion for creative people: do a large volume of work.


    Btw, ignore the rude comment in this thread. Every designer has a learning period. In my experience, comments like that are usually from people too insecure in their own work to see things from beginners' perspective.

    Good luck!

    2 points
  • Kristjan Gomboc, 7 years ago

    Hi there!

    Maybe you can share your CV / Portfolio and then we can give some tips on how to improve it?

    As for what I'm looking at in a candidate (and his portfolio)

    1. Fit. Does the candidate/portfolio show the skills that our company needs? If not - why do you want to suddenly go into a different direction?

    2. Learnings. For me it's a lot about how the candidate can present his work and what he has learn out of it. Maybe on paper/screen is not the killer portfolio but if I see it improving over time and the candidate can explain by each work the good, the bad and what he has learn from it I'm happy. It shows me that the candidate can improve over time.

    3. Process. Normally not on any CV or Portfolio but I'm generally interested in how the candidate approaches a problem. It also shows me if he would be fit for our company.

    just a few basic points... but this is really subjective. At the end what probably most maters for me at least if I see a cultural fit. There could be a killer portfolio on the table but if I see it would not fit in the team then it's a no go.

    And another no-go is if there is no portfolio at all :) which I also encountered already. you would not believe how many juniors just try to apply.

    Hope that helps.

    Cheers, K

    2 points
  • Mitch Malone, 7 years ago (edited 7 years ago )

    Product guy here. Things I look for:

    • Case studies that explain the problem, approach, solution, and any knowledge you picked up along the way (including stuff you would have done differently is good too!) Every design problem is complex. Every piece of work requires a lot of context. You need to be able to communicate this clearly. Many portfolios simply have images of finished products; that's not enough to understand you or the problem you were trying to solve. I want to learn more about you and what you were trying to accomplish.

    • Interaction design skills. Probably the most important skill you can have if you want to make products. You have to be able to think through how humans will connect to your product and arrive at a successful outcome. It's tedious and boring work usually but it's vital in being successful.

    • Visual design skills. You need to command the elements of visual design (form, line, color, rhythm, composition, typesetting, etc) in your work. This is a basic requirement in digital designers.

    0 points