CVs and portfolios: How to market yourself as a freelance designer

CVs are a much written about subject, but what if you’re a freelancer working in the design industry? Greg Coley is the Creative Director of the VGroup agency and is perfectly placed to provide an insight into just what freelance designers need to do to get themselves noticed. The following are his views on creating the ideal CV…

Marketing yourself as a freelance designer

So you’re a budding young designer straight out of university, a middleweight, an established creative or a freelancer looking for work in an agency… what’s the first thing you need to do? Your CV, right?

These technologically advanced times are having an impact on the humble CV and not necessarily a good one. Being a well established agency we receive many CV’s and I’ve noticed that the general quality of them has got worse over the last couple of years. If you’re applying for a design position with a CV thrown together in Microsoft Word with Times New Roman, you’re wasting your time.

When the old ways are the best

CVs and work samples are such a massive opportunity to impress potential employers, as the saying goes ‘you only get one opportunity to make a first impression’ and this is even more critical in the design industry. It’s a potential foot in the door, a step up the creative ladder, your CV is an extension of you and your portfolio, a way of showing your typographic and layout skills before a work sample has even been glanced at.

The ease at which people can create and send CVs may play a part in the lowering of CV standards – sometimes more consideration is required before clicking ‘send.’

I have nothing against digital CVs at all. As we all know time is precious. But when our inboxes are inundated with hundreds of emails this method of delivery can sometimes go unnoticed or not attract the attention it deserves. These days if I receive an envelope or package it’s a given that I open it and it’s refreshing to receive something tactile and well thought through that creates an impact.

Six simple tips for your CV and portfolio:

1. Keep your introductory letter short and to the point.

2. Your CV should ideally be 1-2 pages and clearly laid out, keep the experimental fonts for the right projects.

3. Work samples in print format should be an extension of your portfolio, create an impact, show us what you’re made of.

4. Digital work samples ideally in PDF format, clearly laid out with brief descriptions of each project i.e.: who it was for and what the brief entailed.

5. Also it sounds simple but label your PDF with your name so it’s easy to find, ‘work_samples08? or ‘D:/documents/portfolio.pdf’ aren’t going to stand out when potential employers are sifting through their folders.

6. Online portfolios work well and are easily accessible, but again keep it simple and focus on your work.

At the end of the day if you are a good designer your skills will show through, but regardless of your experience, or lack of, it’s advisable to take the time to ensure that your CV reflects the level of work you can produce; treat it like you would any other project and make it communicate on the right level, as you never know where it will take you.

By Greg Coley

Kelly Jane
Kelly Jane
Kelly is PeoplePerHour marketing expert. She has a wealth of experience in digital and social media marketing. As a freelancer, she has been committed in helping small businesses grow by offering them agile and result-driven marketing services.
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well written blog. Im glad that I could find more info on this. thanks

Karen Cayamanda
Karen Cayamanda

I agree. CVs must be kept simple. Include only what is important.


Indeed! Some CV are just so complicated and not really convincing. Keep it simple and professional.

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