How's Your Bookkeeping?
Someone calls today. They have an opening for your dream job at your dream agency. They want you to send your book tonight. Is your book ready to send? I'm not talking about "ready" as in having all the fantastic, award-winning campaigns you plan to do in the next couple years. I mean "ready" like do you actually have something tangible to send. A link? A pdf?
Unfortunately, this scenario, where a person has to quickly put their book together, happens more frequently when there are layoffs. After the shock, denial, and anger, there's the panicked, mad scramble to call editors, art directors and whoever else might have the files you need to put your book together.
This is very easily avoided with some simple organization. After you finish a project, get the files. Get them in the format you need for your book or reel. It's not hard, but it's surprising how many people don't do this. And it should go without saying, keep a backup of your portfolio somewhere.
Aside from your portfolio pieces, I'd recommend keeping records of a few other things. Not all the work you do will go into your book, but that doesn't mean it's worthless. Here are a few things I'd keep on file or in a document:
1) Awards. Which awards, what year, for what project.
2) Productions. What have you shot and who did you shoot with? Or which developers did you work with on a website? You might want to work with them again, or recommend them to someone else in a couple years. Some people can remember all this stuff. I'm not one of them. I have a list.
3) Projects. Just keep a running list of every project you work on. It might seem excessive, but when you're 10 years into your career and your agency is working on bios for a pitch, you might need to remember that you do in fact have some soft drink experience--you did a promotional print campaign for Shasta six years ago.
4) Job titles. When you get a promotion or switch jobs, just note the month and year. Again, seems like something you would obviously be able to remember. Then all of a sudden you've been working in the industry for 12 years, have held seven different job titles at five different agencies and it's all a little mushy. It helps to know specifics when you put your resume together.