Cut through the noise and get the attention of hiring managers and others in the creative fields you want.
Learn how to create a job-winning mini-portfolio that cuts through the noise and gets the attention of hiring managers and others in the creative fields you want.
A mini-portfolio is like a teaser-trailer for your resume and/or portfolio. It's purpose is to be quick, effective, and inexpensive to produce and send out. A mini-portfolio isn't meant to show every project or skill you have; just one or two that spark the interest of the person reading it. It then helps to move the reader down the "funnel" to hopefully get you and interview and the job of your dreams.
Chances are you saw the trailer for this movie months before you ever set foot in the theater to watch the real thing. Maybe you even watched more than one trailer and re-watched it again and again to catch any clues of the plot.
If a portfolio is a trailer for the incredible work you do, then the mini-portfolio is a 15-second teaser trailer. It's almost a trailer for the trailer. It's action packed and its only purpose is to be a quick and engaging hook for you to watch the full trailer and the movie itself.
It cuts through the noise and stirs curiosity in the reader to encourage them to reach out to you for more information.
The goal of a mini-portfolio is to whet the appetite of a future employer and encourage them to reach out to you for your resume/portfolio or setup an interview. A mini-portfolio is not a replacement for your actual portfolio, it is simply a focused, perhaps clever, and less expensive version that you can send to important people.
Show only the best of the best, if you're trying to attract attention,
This should be obvious. The mini-portfolio should include your name and email at a minimum. You may include other contact points if appropriate: website, phone number, and social media. Don't overwhelm the reader by giving them too many options, make it clear which path you want them to follow by limiting the information.
Are you an award winning artist? Do you have a special license? Put this information beneath your name and contact information. Make sure to keep it minimal and realistic.
Yup... Remember, this is about target outreach. You do not need to put your full resume. If you print on two sides, you can put another piece of work or your contact information in larger font.
A funnel is a marketing term that summarizes the journey from the first interaction to the final goal. In most cases this deals with how to get sales but for our purpose, it describes the steps behind getting an interview. Starting at the top, each person that looks at your mini-portfolio enters the funnel.
The goal is to get that person to the next stage and down to setting up an interview with you. Obviously, people will drop off at each stage but this shouldn't discourage you, it's simply part of the game. As you can see from the graphic below, you may have different steps in your funnel, there is no rule that says you have to do the same thing every time.
You may have 3-4 different mini-portfolios geared towards different firms, industries, or even individual people. When you are analyzing the best assets you have, tag which are better for different scenarios.
If your goal is to have the reader see your mini-portfolio and visit your website, make sure it has the information they need to do that! Celebrate the work but make sure they know who made it.
This is the time to get someone's attention. One way you can do this is by throwing in some personality! Play around with different fonts, colors, perhaps even sizes.
Your mini-portfolio should be just that, mini. Don't have it compete with your actual portfolio or your resume. It should spark interest. Michael William Lester took this to the extreme with his "smallest portfolio in the world". While this approach will not work for every creative profession, it does succeed in making you curious about what's inside.
Keep in mind you may have to send out a dozen or more mini-portfolios to get some responses. Creating a complex, multi-fold design with fancy German paper may sound cool but after you've made 20 of them, you'll most likely find it wasn't worth the cost. Remember the funnel. The mini-portfolio is just designed to spark interest. You can show off your mad crazy craft skills with the real portfolio.
Individual cards highlight a specific skill and related work by this designer. This cards can be sent as a package or given individually depending on the circumstance. This approach is minimal and straightforward; it may not grab the attention enough but it really depends on the aesthetic of the person/firm you are sending it too.
An accordion mini-portfolio highlights 4 of her best pieces of work. The design is clever and may catch the attention of the reader. It does seem a little hard to construct and possible expensive to print. However, it may be worth the effort to have a unique design.
This unfolding design reveals more of the designer's work slowly and in small doses. Use caution when designing something like this. The format is borderline annoying as the reader may not be sure how to unfold it or refold it again. Also, the small images don't necessarily tell the story behind the work.
Now that you know what a mini-portfolio is, let's talk about how you will get this into the hands of potential employers. The internet is the best way to reach out future employers quickly and effectively, however, don't underestimate the power of one-on-one connections. Yes, you read that right. The physical work of reaching out to individuals will almost always outperform unsolicited emails or messages to generic job boards.
In the Covid-era, going in person to an office may not be possible. However, the principle of "showing up" still stands. Instead of just sending your resume and website to a job positing, find a specific person in the firm and pursue them. This person should be a decision maker who could be your direct manager in the future. The goal is to have this person become your advocate to the hiring managers, partners, or other decisions makers. Move beyond the email to the firm's general email and go the personal route.
This strategy is especially effective in creative fields because of the importance of good collaboration and synergy between a team. If you can present yourself as an essential and dynamic addition to that person's team, you're ahead of the game.
Prior to the Covid-era, one way to truly set yourself apart was to physically visit the office of the firm in person and hand deliver your mini-portfolio and resume. It took boldness but was one of the fastest ways to be considered for a position. This may still be a good tactic in the near future but for now you can use a blended approach.
In theory, it is possible to send the perfect message in an email. It can be well-written, dynamic, and influential. We also know that sometimes this makes no difference. It can be difficult to signal seriousness via email because the cost of delivery is so negligible. This gets even worse when the message is perceived as generic.
However, by putting yourself through the stomach-wrenching ordeal of walking into an office, or calling someone on the phone, or sending them a personalized video, and daring to being seen as a real person, you can signal that you really care. The person on the other side can make a safe bet that you'll put the same effort into the work they give you.
"The meaning and significance we attach to something is felt in direct proportion to the expense with which it is communicated"
- Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman, Ogilvy Group
We all need a little help from time-to-time about how to reach out in the proper way. If you do decide to visit offices in person or make direct phone calls, it's best to go in with a plan. This will help you be less nervous and not take rejection personally because you'll be ready for it.
Now we are going to use the principles outlined in this article to create our first mini-portfolios. Remember to keep it simple and only show 1-2 examples of your best work. Keep the goal in mind, to get the reader excited and have them move down the funnel. Most important, remember the person looking at your mini-portfolio may only do so for 15-30 seconds before making a decision. Be clear about who you are and what you do.
Want some quick feedback on your mini-portfolio design? Share it with us on Instagram.