Creatives have portfolios, but what about “Suits”?

Creatives have portfolios, but what about "suits"?

We’ve all seen those portfolios being carted around to job interviews, full of the blood, sweat and tears of joy that are the realm of the ‘Creative’. It certainly makes the interview more interesting, and you can learn so much as you talk through the thinking behind each concept, the research, the incomplete client brief and the final outcome. That portfolio holds their personality, skills and dreams within its grasp. So much more than what you can extract from even the best résumé.

But surely account management and marketing talent also have personality, skills and dreams? They certainly have work that has had to be researched, brain stormed and strategised. And creative outcomes that have been hard fought for, not just from the agency side, but motivating the sales team and trade to ensure a successful outcome.

Not meaning to age myself, but in the 80’s when I was a busy junior filling in award applications, there was never room to put the account management team or the names of the client team. Yes they wanted to know the film company, the photographer, even the retoucher! But didn’t they realise that those suppliers never would have been given the job if the groundwork hadn’t been done before it got to the creative department? And there wouldn’t be a job next time if the marketing and sales team didn’t get it right at the purchasing end.

Yes things have moved on and effectiveness awards are now as prestigious as the creative awards – and the clients and account management have centre stage. So why are we not reading about it in résumés?

The reality is, we need to do whatever we can to stand out from others in the market place. LinkedIn profiles are becoming mainstream, but they don’t offer the opportunity to really showcase individual achievements.

Case Study Portfolios

Case study portfolios offer potential employers the chance to see the creative outcome, but more importantly the ability to highlight the issues or opportunities, the thinking behind the brief, market place and competitor challenges, the mediums used to communicate the key messages, the sales strategy and most importantly, the outcome.

Reporting outcomes is tricky. You can put detailed information in an ad effectiveness entry because you’re guaranteed confidentiality. However you’ll need to consider your case study portfolio as open to all. Check with clients as to whether you can report the response rate on that great DM piece, or with managers regarding sales increases. For sensitive data, illustrate the increase graphically without using reference figures. The more visual and easy to pick up at a glance, the better.

Like the creative portfolio, the visual is paramount, but there needs to be substance in the detail. Viewers need to get the ‘problem to solution’ story all in one uncluttered page per case study. Choose only the best and change the studies you use based on what role you’re going for. That way it remains appropriate. Keep the copy to a minimum, just like a PowerPoint presentation, where you can fill in the gaps when you’re in the interview, but ensure a successful outcome is the key take-out for each case study.

These days there are a number of ways to present your case studies online. Many have been set up for creative portfolios, but still suit as they allow for copy with each image.

Check out Portfoliopen, which offers a free online portfolio with up to 3.5GB of data and the chance to pay for an upgrade for advanced features such as custom domain mapping and extra storage. There are small ads on your portfolio site that are non-intrusive and the navigation is logical. You can load a number of case studies, with each featuring a few images and opportunities for comments.

Another popular site is, originally set up for designers but appropriate for case studies. There is also the opportunity to upload your résumé, which will be presented as a downloadable pdf. All these sites are very user-friendly with no need for html knowledge and the result is a simple url you can send prospective employers or recruiters.

Create more than one portfolio if you want to present yourself in a different light, depending on the scenario and remember to keep it up-to-date and accurate.

There are also document sharing sites such as SlideShare which enables you to download, embed and share your résumé and go in and change and update the information without changing the url, however these really are more text than visually-driven.

If a lot of the work you’ve been doing has been above-the-line, you may want to consider creating a video portfolio using YouTube Annotations. This is only relevant if you can fully utilise the video format rather than a moving slide show. Check out Amy-Mae Elliott’s post on Top 5 Tips for Creating Impressive Video Resumes.

Let’s face it, the last two years have been tough everywhere. Employers are looking for accountability from their marketing budgets and certainly from prospective new employees. With a well-constructed case study portfolio full of substance and great outcomes, you will now have the tool to prove you’re the one to pick.


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