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Job-Hunting Artists: Your Portfolio Could Use More Bon Jovi

I won’t pretend to have this job-hunting thing figured out, but if the online application process pisses you off too, then give some thought to mailing potential employers a hardcopy of your portfolio. Recently, I did a little reassessment of my own. The verdict: My portfolio sucked ass. Static. Impersonal. Boring. So I got bold. I grew a set and put myself out there. Everything creative went in. The final product looks great. I’m proud of it because it’s distinctively me, a record of both personal and professional accomplishments. Sure, it could use some tweaking here and there, but for the most part it does the trick. Along with the usual cover letter and resume are an About Me page with personal interests and current projects, a few writing clips, links to this blog and, finally, a copy of my last record (more to come on this).
Why I didn’t include this information before can only be attributed to fear of looking foolish, which I now realize was a ridiculous mindset. In sticking with conventions, relying solely on work achievements, I left out the very things that make me valuable. With such a limited strategy, I’m not much different from the thousand other applicants. I’m relegated to some facts on a few sheets of $5 paper with a pleasant font and alignment.
I like to think I’m a pretty rad dude, and that wasn’t translating in the portfolio. Plus, the majority of my creativity, my art, is done in my free time, off the clock. Take this blog, for instance. I enjoy doing this because I enjoy writing, not because it’ll look great on my resume. It’s what I do. Same with my music. Maybe it’s a little cheesy to include a homemade EP, but writing songs, recording them and performing are legit accomplishments, all of which are testaments to commitment, motivation and determination. That final product – a CD in a badass, handmade jacket – makes a nice accompaniment, even if a potential employee takes it as a Bon-Jovi-sized ego trip. That’s cool. Even then, at least they’ll think something of me, and that’s more than what I would have got from the institution’s online application.
But, like I said, I don’t have this whole thing figured out. So how about you? What did you put in your portfolio to give it life?