“PORTFOLIO’S: ARE THEY FOR REAL?” How to stay clear of the big portfolio rip-off

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So you like their portfolio? 
Here are some questions you should ask when interviewing a design firm or freelancer to avoid contracting a skillset that isn’t exactly what it appears to be.

  1. What part of the work did you do?
    2. How many people worked on it and what were their roles?
    3. Do you still work with them?
    4. Tell me something about this portfolio piece that you are especially proud of.
    5. When and where did you do this work? (i.e., at school, at a company, or in your home office?)

That’s about all the questioning it should take to rule out portfolio forgers.

Here are some fun portfolio interpretations based on TRUE STORIES.
These “comments” and/or “actions” come from people we’ve known or have interviewed in the past.

  • “I fixed one typo in this 50 page website, but now I’m putting it into my portfolio as “my work” since I really did work on it, just not the concept, design, or development…”
  • “I interned for a design firm 8 years ago, and still feature their self-promotion material as my work even though none of it was my work. Hey, I live two states away now!”
  • “I like to feature my award in my online portfolio. Of course, I’m not going to mention that it was a shared award with 10 other talented people who worked on the same award-winning project, in varying roles at an ad agency.”
  • “I did the whole thing. Yes, I created it, but I have no details about the concept, the strategy, the target audience or the branding to back it up.”
  • “I quoted 14 hours to get the finishing flash work done, but only made it halfway through. That’s OK, while the client didn’t get what was promised, I sure got a cool (unfinished) piece for my online portfolio.”

If you happen across any similar comments like this, step away and run as fast as you can!

Next: Positives to look for when interviewing a graphic design / web development firm.

Karen Skeens

Karen Skeens

Karen is a creative director / writer / designer / strategist with 20 years of passionate dedication in digital agency and broadcast media work helping companies of all sizes grow.

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