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The Creative Group Survey Reveals Most Common Portfolio Mistakes Among Interactive, Design and Marketing Professionals

MENLO PARK, Calif., Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- All style and no substance is the number-one critique voiced by executives about creative portfolios, according to a new survey by The Creative Group. Thirty-two percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed said the biggest misstep creative professionals make when assembling their portfolios is including samples that don't show value provided to the company. Lack of organization was the second most common blunder, cited by 19 percent of respondents.

The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service providing interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals on a project and full-time basis, and conducted by an independent research firm.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "In your opinion, which of the following is the single most common mistake creative professionals make when assembling a portfolio that will be presented to a potential employer?" Their responses:

Samples that don't show value provided to the company 32%
Lack of organization 19%
Dated materials 9%
Too many samples 9%
Inappropriate materials 7%
Too few samples 7%
Samples that aren't clearly labeled 5%

Other/don't know/no answer

*Responses do not total 100 percent due to rounding.  

These and other findings are featured in a new guide, Creating and Presenting a Powerful Portfolio, available for free download at The information is based on The Creative Group's experience placing thousands of interactive, design and marketing professionals with companies throughout North America; exclusive surveys of advertising and marketing executives; and interviews with leading creative thinkers.

"Creative professionals often think their work speaks for itself and, unfortunately, it doesn't," said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group. "Compelling design has a story behind it, and it's vital for job seekers to provide that narrative so employers can see how they think and solve business problems."

The Creative Group offers four tips for building and presenting a portfolio that demonstrates value to potential employers:

  1. Prepare. Before meeting with a hiring manager, research the organization to assess its particular needs and which work samples might best address them. Also, ask the prospective employer about the format of the portfolio review process (how long you'll have to present, how many people will be in attendance and whether they prefer to review hard-copy or online samples) so you can maximize the time.
  2. Paint a clear picture. Make it easy for reviewers to evaluate your book and recognize what you can bring to the company by labeling each piece with the client's name (assuming you have their permission), project objective, your role and any positive outcomes.
  3. Talk the talk. Presenting your work confidently and intelligently can make hiring managers take a second look at samples they may otherwise have missed. Develop short, engaging sound bites that tell the story of how each piece solved a business problem or filled a specific need -- and don't be afraid to show enthusiasm and passion for your work.
  4. Take it for a test run. Before you officially present your book, turn to a trusted colleague, mentor or member of your professional network for feedback. Consider using social media sites to solicit critiques from your online contacts. This can help you fine-tune the content and delivery of your portfolio.

About the Survey
The national study was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It is based on more than 500 telephone interviews -- approximately 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100 or more employees and 125 with advertising executives randomly selected from agencies with 20 or more employees.

About The Creative Group
The Creative Group specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group's award-winning career magazine, can be found at