Career, Interview & Portfolio Tips from Creative Directions 2016

On March 5, emerging creative professionals gathered in Toronto for RGD's annual Creative Directions Conference.


The event included portfolio reviews, speed mentoring, panels and presentations exploring opportunities for individuals pursuing careers in the design industry. Here are a variety of insights offered during our various career-building panel discussions and presentations.


Tips for strategic job-hunting 

  1. "Customizing your resume is key, but you should also show restraint. I want to see something that catches my eye, but it should also be clean and well-designed." Mooren Bofill, John St.
  2. "Embrace uncertainty. Enjoy the challenges and rewards of being uncomfortable." Vince Galante RGD, The Pixel Shop
  3. "Our industry likes to share. The best way to take advantage of that is to identify a design mentor - someone you can go to for individual advice." Adam Shutsa, 500px
  4. "People skills often trump design skills. It's not just about being the best designer or the best strategist — to do well, people need to want to work with you." Gary Ludwig RGD, Hark Ideas
  5. "The gift of starting out is that you have an un-biased perspective. Stay an outsider - look at things differently, inject change in your life to stay creative." Norma Penner, Fjord

Tips for a successful interview  

  1. "Don't lie about things you know during an interview. No one expects you to know everything, so don't pretend that you do." Gerard Dolan RGD, Investors Group
  2. "It's a best practice to come to an interview prepared with specific questions to ask the interviewer. Ask about the projects they work on, etc. — show that you care enough about the job to take an interest." Carey George RGD, Goods & Services
  3. "Keep in mind that as much as we're interviewing you, you're interviewing us — the job needs to be a good fit on both sides in order for it to be successful." Geoff Lee, ICF Olson

Tips for presenting an effective portfolio  

  1. "When I'm looking at a portfolio, I want to see different types of work, different styles and different stories. A great portfolio will have the 'I wish I did that' factor." Alison Garnett RGD, SapientNitro
  2. "Never apologize when showing your work. An apology tells me you aren't fully prepared. Be confident; be proud." Fidel Pena RGD, Underline Studio
  3. "We want to be surprised and engaged by the work you're showing us. The work you choose to include should illustrate a different way of thinking." Karen Satok RGD, Sputnik Design Partners
  4. "When someone is looking at your work, think about it as a review rather than a critique. This isn't something negative — it is a positive opportunity to receive constructive feedback, a chance to get better." Eleni Alpous, Cossette
  5. "Never be a roadblock. When you disagree with what is being said, look for ways to identify a fork in the road and then be able to show why your way is better." Adam Rallo, Catalyst Workshop


For more information on Creative Directions, visit