4 Tips for Creating an Advertising Portfolio

PortfolioWhether you’re going the online route or sticking with the tried and trusted physical portfolio, deciding which of your work to include (or creating work for the first time) is the toughest part. As a college student looking to work in the advertising field within the next few months, I’m realizing how critical portfolios are to just get an interview, let alone be hired. So I’ve compiled a few tips that seem to be pretty much agreed upon by experts in the industry to help you (and me!) create better ads for better portfolios.

1. Tailor your ads toward the company with which you’re applying. Just like how you’re supposed to tailor your resume and cover letters for each position, portfolios are no different. You can do this by checking out the company’s website, which will usually showcase their work to give you a good sense of what they’re looking for. Then you can decide if any of the work you already created fits well with the agency’s personality, and if not you can create some spec ads specifically for your portfolio that do mesh with what the company wants.

2. Demonstrate some personality through your ads. When companies look at your work, they’re trying to see how you think and how you will think in the future if they choose to hire you. They want to know that you think like the employees they already have, so they’re trying to get a sense of your personality through your creativity. What do you find humorous? Do you rely more on words or images? Are most of your ads funny? Emotional? Shocking? And while your work may be genius, if it isn’t the type of genius they’re looking for they’ll more than likely pass on you.

3. Make it as easy for the employer as possible to view your portfolio. Most agencies require online portfolios these days now that everything is electronic, so make sure you have your link ready to go when they ask for it. You don’t have to be a coding guru to be able to create a website for your work, either, because there are many companies that provide free and easy blogs or websites that you can use to display your portfolio. Just remember to think about your viewers when designing your site and make it as hassle-free as possible (this is the part I always struggle with, because there are so many nifty features that I want to try out and include!) But this also applies to physical portfolios as well. Make sure the pages don’t stick together, the colors are easy on the eyes, and it’s in good condition to impress the hiring manager.

4. Show your passion for your creative work. This may be the most important aspect of creating a portfolio, because if you don’t have true passion for what you’re making, then the employer won’t feel passionate about it either. Ads can change, situations can change, and agency goals can change in the future, so a few pieces of work in a portfolio cannot guarantee to the employer that what you showed them is enough to prepare you for anything that could happen on the job. But if you can demonstrate to them just how much you love thinking and writing and creating, it can mean that you’re not going to run from challenges, thus giving you an advantage.

Are there any I missed? Have you used any of these when creating your own portfolio?



  1. Thank you so much for this post!!
    I wish to secure a place on a Creative Ad course at university, and I am so struggling with the portfolio in order to make me the best and make them give me an offer to study there! This really helps, though. So thank you! 🙂

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