Top 10 Recruiter Tips for a Creative Portfolio

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Pictured above: Michele Daly, Chief Creative Talent Officer at Saatchi, Deb Botkin, Director of Creative Operations at Saatchi and Kimberly Easley, Director of Talent Acquisition at VML

The Creative Recruiters from Saatchi and VML have been big supporters of Miami Ad School for many years. They always attend our New York Portfolio Reviews to meet with our recent graduates. A couple of weeks ago we invited them to the school to give the students advice how to build a better school portfolio. Below find their top 10 portfolio tips.

1. Lead with your best work.

A recruiter looks at thousands of portfolios a month so you have to find a way to stand out fast. They only have about four minutes to decide if they like you. Make sure your work is clean, smart and thought out. Put your best work first and pack a punch. And remember you’re only as good as your weakest piece. Only include your best work.

2. Articulate your ideas.

“The thing we really look for at Saatchi NY is the ability to talk about the work and to articulate an idea. Everyone is able to smash an execution, being able to smash an execution is a huge deal, and craft is big, but actually being able to state what the idea and insight is, is huge for us.” -Deb Botkin, Saatchi & Saatchi

3. Have a great About Me section.

“The first thing I always go to in an online portfolio is the About Me section. I want to know what you’re into, what you like. I want to know what you’re passionate about beyond advertising. It’s a great place to give someone a sense of who you are. It always bothers me when someone only has a link to their LinkedIn profile, because they’re missing a big opportunity to let me get to know them better as a creative person.” -Michele Daly, Saatchi & Saatchi

“One time we hired someone just on their bio.” -Kimberly Easley, VML

When recruiters are curious about you and your story, they’ll give your portfolio more attention.

4. Fully develop your ideas.

“We’re looking for creative people who can take ideas to the next level. Sometimes I ask a student about their work and they say, ‘Well I had this idea and this idea and this idea.’ Don’t just talk it. Show the entire blown-out campaign. Don’t just stop at the one piece but go a little bit further and push it as far as you can.” -Kimberly Easley, VML

5. Show a well rounded campaign.

“Students are so focused on digital and social. We see portfolios full of apps and social content but sometimes the work is missing the big idea. All agencies are looking for creatives that come up with big ideas, not just the execution and the tactic. I’m also looking for the print, script and radio execution. We’re more likely to hire someone that can solve a problem on a large scale. If it’s relevant to the client, include it. Don’t be afraid to show something technical.” -Michele Daly, Saatchi & Saatchi

6. Case-study videos should be two minutes or less.

“I love case study videos, I’m not going to lie.” -Deb Botkin, Saatchi & Saatchi

“Two minutes or less nobody has time.” -Deb Botkin, Saatchi & Saatchi

“I have about four minutes to look at your entire portfolio, and decide in that four minutes. And that’s if I like what I see when I first click on it. Think about what kind of impression you want to make. The first image must be phenomenal, if you’re not proud of it, take it out.” -Kimberly Easley, VML

7. Paper books are a bonus.

“I miss being able to touch paper. Think of a tangible book as an added bonus.” -Michele Daly, Saatchi & Saatchi

8. Show your artistry.

“Look at every detail of your portfolio. Create beautiful thumbnails. Tie it together every detail for each story.” -Kimberly Easley, VML

9. Explanations of your work should be very short.

“I read the insights when they’re short and sweet. It’s important for the writer to articulate the insight and show the eloquence behind it. ONE LINE on what the assignment was, so we can follow the idea, but you don’t need an explanation for everything.” -Deb Botkin, Saatchi & Saatchi

10. Make it easy for recruiters to contact you.

“You won’t believe how many people don’t put their name and contact information on their homepage. It’s an obvious oversight” -Michele Daly, Saatchi & Saatchi

“Add a hyperlink to your email. It’s really simple stuff that makes it easier for us to reach you.” -Kimberly Easley, VML

Miami Ad School’s placement program is there for our graduates entire career, providing them with job leads for life. In addition to quarterly interview sessions, the school sends out weekly graduate newsletters with thousands of job leads every year. 

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