It can be awfully tough to stand out in a crowded job market. A standard resume and cover letter just aren’t going to cut it these days.
Let’s face it: you’re far too talented to expect a single piece of paper to sing your techie-prowess praises for you. I mean, how are potential clients and employers going to know about the awesome website you designed for your local vintage boutique without checking it out themselves?
Whether you’re pursuing work as a web designer, a web developer, a master programmer of mobile apps, or collaboration on the next big social platform, one thing’s for sure…
The key to a great first impression—is a great portfolio!
To guarantee you’ll stand out, you’ve got to have an impressive digital portfolio that can prove your street cred and showcase your skills, helping you to land that dream job, book the big-ticket client, or land a workshop spot at a prestigious conference.
That being said, creating a stand out portfolio is easier than you might think. I’ve compiled, in a bit more detail, your top portfolio must haves:
Portfolio Must Haves
Who You Are
Don’t be an Internet rando! Tell your story. Feel free to share things like how you came to love web design, or your first experience with a computer at a young age. Make the information relatable and personable.
It’s important to let your personality shine through: helping people relate to you is a huge step in getting them to hire you instead of someone else.
What you do
Of course, you want to state the obvious. There is nothing worse than having a prospective employer or client land on your site and come away with no clue what it is you do. Don’t be afraid to embrace your title—if you’re a rare unicorn of equal parts web designer and developer, own it! If you’re in love with Ruby and looking for a Ruby Developer job, proclaim it!
But you can even take this a step further by explaining how you work. Do you start with a discovery phase and ask clients to complete a user avatar? Let future clients know what it will be like to work with you.
Examples of your work
Here is your opportunity to really WOW potential employers and clients and give them a peek into what kind of work you excel at, what kind of work you’re passionate about, and most importantly, what kind of work you’re proud of. When you’re just starting out, it can be tough to decide what projects to include (or where to even find projects to begin with!)
And keep in mind that if you’re wanting to pursue a specific type of work, you need to make sure that’s exactly what you highlight in your portfolio. Including only the type of work you’re looking to do more of, rather than all of your work, will help you target and stand out for the right opportunities.
In addition to showcasing your work, you could also choose to include your resume, with all your skills and past experiences packaged nicely and readily available right on your site.
Easy to navigate format
Make sure your overall portfolio design is easy to navigate and straight-forward. You want your work to take the spotlight on your site, not your flashy, color changing navigation bar. If it could potentially steal the focus from your work, save the idea for another purpose. Site viewers don’t want to hunt for where to go next, and if they have to, you risk them leaving the page.
And don’t over complicate things by trying to be clever and naming your projects or pages something obscure that might fly right over visitors’ heads. Remember that some of your clients or employers might not be industry insiders, so you’ll need to make sure someone outside of your field can easily understand and navigate the page. Keep things simple, clear, and focused.
How to get in touch with you
What do you want viewers to do after they check out your stunning work? Contact you and offer you an interview or freelance job, of course! Make it easy for site visitors to get in touch with you. If you make them work hard to figure out how to get in touch, it’s highly likely that they won’t.
Clear calls to action are vital to the success of your portfolio as a tool to aid in your job hunt. There’s nothing wrong with a simple and clear “Hire Me” or “Get in Touch”. You can do this easily by incorporating a contact form on your site or even asking for visitors to get in touch with you via your social media accounts.
Your portfolio site can make or break any opportunity, so it’s important to put some effort and thought into crafting a stand-out digital presence to house your portfolio.
So for a quick recap, all the best portfolios are masters of the following:
- They reinforce your personal brand and allow your personality to shine through
- The content is focused and displays the kind of work you want to pursue
- They showcase your best work and leave viewers wanting more
- They’re easy to navigate and position your work in the spotlight
- They contain a clear call to action that inspires viewers to follow up
Need some help getting your portfolio site up and running? Check out our Web Designer Blueprint or Web Developer Blueprint, where you’ll design and code your own portfolio site—from scratch!—with projects aplenty to show to potential employers and clients.
Libby is our Customer Support & Production Assistant. She's a 9-5 office escapee with a background in brand management and 'wow experience' cultivation.