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A couple of (web design related) resume/portfolio/interview questions

wasted pixelswasted pixels Registered User regular
edited September 2007 in Help / Advice Forum
I'm not sure how much/little background information I need to give on this, so bear with me, please.

I currently win my bread as a freelance web designer. I'm wanting to take a job with an actual brick and mortal web design firm, though, for several reasons (like having a salary, being able to apply for a credit card without explaining that self-employed != unemployed, and being able to actually make websites instead of doing accounting and chasing leads all day).

I should note that I'm primarily looking at Designer I positions, which are basically entry-level. So please keep in mind that one of my concerns is not seeming overqualified (or worse, seeming like I'm over-selling myself).


Questions about writing a resume:

1) My college history is kind of a mess. I've attended two schools (about a year apart), but I didn't finish a degree at either. I was already making decent money as a freelance designer when I started college, and neither school offered advanced technical classes or ANY meaningful design theory, so I made a "hasty" decision in 2001, and again in 2003. Should I even list a school on my resume? If so, both? If just one, the more prestigious, or the more recently attended of the two?

2) Do I want to include non-design jobs I've held? For the sake of having verified income (helpful for getting apartments, etc), I worked as a night manager at a pizza place for a while, and later worked as a weekend manager at a video store. I've always been told that I should include as much of my work history as possible on a resume, but I've always disagreed with that idea -- the fact that I worked at a video store seems irrelevant to my ability to make websites, and I don't want it to seem like web design is something I just do "on the side". Still, I thought I would ask.

3) Is there a universally accepted/preferred way of listing your software/technical skills and proficiency? Also, how "complete" should that list be? I haven't even *touched* Dreamweaver since 2004, for instance, and I haven't done any Perl scripting since 1999. Should I leave out skills that are going to be too rusty to really demonstrate during the interview?


Questions about making a portfolio:

A lot of the job listings I've been looking at say that they want to see live URLs, but I'm really uncomfortable with that idea. Looking at my last five projects:
#1 was paid for, but never put online.
#2 is run by a lady who is bordering on illiterate.
#3 and #4 were both heavily modified by the clients (for the worse) after delivery
#5 is largely unmoderated, and filled with coarse language now.
Now obviously they want to see how my code looks, and whether or not my sites render properly across different browsers. That's fine, I write good code. I just don't want to be judged by work that has been out of my hands for months (or years).

I see two solutions to that problem, and would kind of like some input (especially from any resident web developers here).

First, I could upload "local copies" of the index and content pages for sites I've done. The problem I see with that is that a local copy isn't as impressive as a living, breathing, functioning site with a working CMS, integrated message board, etc.

Second, I could develop three or four sites specifically to serve as portfolio pieces. That would give me control over the content and presentation, and would open up the possibility of letting them try out the back-end tools I've written, too. The downside to that is, well, it's a lot of work.

What does H/A recommend?


Questions about nailing the interview

1) How does one dress to interview as a web designer? I've read conflicting things from different sources: either "Anyone who doesn't dress up for an interview obviously doesn't take the business side of the job seriously", or "I'd never hire a web designer who wears a tie". D:

2) I have roughly chin-length hair. I keep it clean, and it's parted down the middle (so not some funky emo cut), but I've been raised to believe that nobody will hire a guy with long hair. Do I need to cut it?

3) This may sound like the dumbest question ever, but should I bring a conventional (ink and paper) portfolio with printouts of my work?


I know that's a lot to digest, but any advice in any area would be much appreciated. This is a really major, life-altering move, and I'm really nervous about it. :/

wasted pixels on

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    zilozilo Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    Second, I could develop three or four sites specifically to serve as portfolio pieces. That would give me control over the content and presentation, and would open up the possibility of letting them try out the back-end tools I've written, too. The downside to that is, well, it's a lot of work.

    This right here. Of course it's going to be a lot of work. If it were easy it wouldn't be any fun!

    Basically, you want control of your portfolio. Giving links to live sites is a bad idea because someone else becomes indirectly responsible for representing you to potential employers.

    1) How does one dress to interview as a web designer? I've read conflicting things from different sources: either "Anyone who doesn't dress up for an interview obviously doesn't take the business side of the job seriously", or "I'd never hire a web designer who wears a tie". D:

    2) I have roughly chin-length hair. I keep it clean, and it's parted down the middle (so not some funky emo cut), but I've been raised to believe that nobody will hire a guy with long hair. Do I need to cut it?

    3) This may sound like the dumbest question ever, but should I bring a conventional (ink and paper) portfolio with printouts of my work?

    1) Nice slacks, collared button-up, matching belt and shoes, tie optional. I know that's not a ton of help but wearing a tie really depends on the company. You can always ask the HR people when you schedule the interview, but bear in mind that nobody's going to look down on you for dressing well.

    2) Maybe. Probably not, unless you wear it in a ponytail in which case definately yes.

    3) Nah, just bring a copy of your portfolio on a CD.

    Good luck!

    zilo on
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    flatlinegraphicsflatlinegraphics Registered User regular
    edited September 2007
    ok, i have a ponytail, and it certainly hasn't hurt me getting my last two design jobs. and its better to over dress than under dress. not saying you should rent a tux or anything, but a nice interviews/weddings/funeral suit is always handy.

    and i'd say, have your portfolio printed, plus on cd. the purpose of a printed portfolio is that it can;t crash, it won;t look funny on the conference room pc running netscape 3.0, and it always works. having a second, live copy on cd means that if you have released it a client and they've screwed with it, you still have a good version. and you don;t have to figure out why their finicky net connection won;t connect to your server.

    and test it, and make sure it works everywhere, under all circumstances.

    as for the degree, never claim to have something you don't. there is a lot of background checking going on these days.

    flatlinegraphics on
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    JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited September 2007
    You just need to make some demo sites that look like real web sites and demonstrate your technical ability.

    I would list other jobs you've had, especially if they are in management. I listed two unrelated jobs on mine because it was all I had at the time. They want to know that people can depend on you, etc. Listed prior jobs instead of none is better.

    I would not show them any of your "real" sites if they are crap or the clients killed them. It would be better to just make dummy sites. At entry level they probably shouldn't expect client work, or at least require it.
    Questions about nailing the interview

    1) How does one dress to interview as a web designer? I've read conflicting things from different sources: either "Anyone who doesn't dress up for an interview obviously doesn't take the business side of the job seriously", or "I'd never hire a web designer who wears a tie". D:

    2) I have roughly chin-length hair. I keep it clean, and it's parted down the middle (so not some funky emo cut), but I've been raised to believe that nobody will hire a guy with long hair. Do I need to cut it?

    3) This may sound like the dumbest question ever, but should I bring a conventional (ink and paper) portfolio with printouts of my work?


    I know that's a lot to digest, but any advice in any area would be much appreciated. This is a really major, life-altering move, and I'm really nervous about it. :/

    1) At least their dress code, or higher. You can't overdress for a professional interview, as far as I know. I would say at least go in with dress slacks, dress shirt, and tie, jacket is optional.

    2) Do not look like a mountain man. I don't see why your hair can't be long but you cannot look like you just left your cave this morning. Brush it?

    3) Not necessarily. Depends on what they asked, if they wanted you to they would have specified. I brought a leatherbound bad of paper and pen to write down questions/answers on, just to show I gave a damn about what they were saying to me, pretended to write it down, etc.



    Here are some questions you should ask, because even "brick and mortar" web shops can be cloak and dagger.

    1) Make sure that you are an employee of their company and that you get a W-2, and that you are not just a freelance agent that they contract out to. Even if you go to the office to work they could still employ you in that fashion, and you WANT to be their employee, because it makes taxes way easier.

    2) Make sure they supply you with all the software, and you don't have to buy it. If they expect you to work from home, make sure they can furnish you with stuff for your home PC.

    Jasconius on
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