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I am a college student and aspiring graphic designer. Currently I'm trying to apply for some simple low-level graphic design positions at my college and local businesses. Of course, along with a resumé, I need to provide a portfolio of my graphic design work.

My question is how do I format this? I'm not talking about how the portfolio looks aesthetically, but how I am supposed to provide it? Do I literally just include a large image file containing an organized mass of what I've created? A pdf file of the same? Perhaps a link to a website showcasing my work? I suppose this varies from company to company, but is there a standardized (or at least most common) way that portfolios are shared? Perhaps this is a silly question to ask but I don't feel like I understand enough to ask a better worded question.

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    A single PDF or Web link... PDF is often preferred. Most position announcements tell you what to submit.
    – Scott
    May 16 '20 at 23:56
  • @Scott Thank you for the quick response. None of the position announcements I have looked at so far have had any specifics.
    – Sam Sabin
    May 17 '20 at 0:13
  • You should be good with a PDF file.
    – Lucian
    May 17 '20 at 7:30
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The short answer is:

Provide a web link or a PDF file.


The long one is a question... What do you do?

A very important topic as a graphic designer is to provide the right solution for the right project, and this includes the delivery.

If you are a web designer, prepare a personalized web page. Prepare a well-structured website, with clear sections, and relevant information. "I do not have a credit card" is not a reason for not having it, you can have a free hosted webpage.

But perhaps you are more like an illustrator. Do you have any social media for this? Behance, Instagram, DeviantArt?

If you like editorial design, the PDF itself will be part of the portfolio. Do you know how to make a decent-sized PDF with good quality and small file size? I once received a 200Mb PDF... I do not even remember the design... the delivery was nonsense. One thing is the CV, another is the portfolio.

You can even send a nice formatted email, in a newsletter form.

Are you a motion graphics designer? Do I really need to say that a youtube channel or Vimeo is the best option?


Part of what a designer has to do is making decisions... Make some of your own. What an employer wants is to be impressed.

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Definetaly not jpeg's. When I'm applying, I'm attaching my CV and Portfolio seperately in PDF format.

I used to include my CV at the end of my portfolio PDF but that also meant for people to download my whole portfolio and then extract the last page if they wanted to have it printed it out. So it's good for everyone to have your cv separate.

I know it's annoying but it's always a good practice to keep a .doc copy of your cv just in case HR's can't launch pdf's for some reason (it happens, a lot). If you have a website, definitely include a link within both cv pdf and your mail body.

Pls, never ever send a huge mass lol. It's pretty easy for designers to zoom but it's the exact opposite for non designers. You can create a multi paged PDF. Try to place one work at a one page. Double pages are fine too if you feel like to show a zoomed in detail or something. Also a few words to describe the work won't hurt.

But the most important is, Size of your PDF. Try to keep it under 9-12 megs.

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Just submit your website link. Make sure you have a linkedin account too with that web link. Never send PDFs. Make sure your web link is on your resume at the top. Good luck!

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I wouldn't send a PDF unless that's what's been requested and the user knows that it'll likely be a large file. And even if email attachments are asked for, I always send one simple text email to let them know that the big file will be coming as a separate email shortly and to please let me know if they don't receive it within a few minutes. THEN I'll send the email with the attachment.

Some folks may vastly prefer a PDF because they can pass it around internally, feed it into their HR process, etc. But it seems that an HTML portfolio would be equally/more useful, as it'd always be up to date. Whoever they pass the link along to would get the benefit of your most recent work/updates.

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