Interview with an Employer: 6 Tips for your Resume & Portfolio

I recently hinted that this post would be a bit different from previous ones. As part of my research for these posts on Land8, I have been asking colleagues for their perspective. Each of them is in the position of doing the hiring and portfolio review for their respective firms. I have asked them to tell me what is important to them without many specific questions to respond to. It is very interesting to see what comes up spontaneously, and I hope that these bits of advice give you something to consider in your own portfolio design process. You should know that the information was typed by me (from my notes), then approved or modified by the person interviewed, and posted here for you. It is through this process, that as much as possible, these are their words.

Mr. H (who has asked me to keep both his name and firm anonymous) is a talented architect who works for a well-known high-end architecture firm in Dallas, Texas. He is responsible for large scale projects all over the world, and is also in a position to review portfolios and interview job candidates. I am grateful to him for taking some time out of what I know is a very demanding schedule to chat with me about resumes and portfolios. Below are my notes from the conversation, approved by Mr. H:


  • Condense your resume as much as possible, especially if you have a lot of experience. Aim to fit it on a single page.
  • Not having a photo of yourself on the resume is an American phenomenon. In Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, there is always a photo on the resume!


  • Make it creative, sophisticated, simple.
  • Using too much technology makes me feel like the applicant is trying too hard.
  • Image quality is really important!
  • Show ONLY the projects you are proud of.

Putting your face to the resume or portfolio shows that there is a real person who stands behind the work, taking responsibility and hopefully looking like someone we would want to work with. Make sure that it is a candid photo, not a professional portrait, not staged (I don’t want to see you working at your desk), and no photos of you drinking at a party or sunning on the beach. You should be depicted in a natural, casual setting, like a normal person out there in the world.

Know your audience! Understand what the firm you are applying to is known for and tailor your materials to that. Even if you are trying to break into their market and don’t have a lot (or any) of their kind of project, BE AWARE of what it is that they do.

I hope to have several of these conversations available for Land8 readers, and I would welcome contact from any employers who would like to insert their two cents (anonymously or not). Next time, I will be posting a bit about some of the resources available to those of you who are diving into the world of printed portfolios.

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