Perfecting Your Portfolio
Would you like to get a job in your new field or maybe an internship or a freelancing gig?
Then, you’ll want to showcase your work online in a way that makes people want to hire you! Here are a few tips for making your portfolio impressive…
1) Use a quality portfolio service.
Do some Google research and find out what is available and what others in your field are using. If you are a web designer, create your own site and make it look professional — don’t use a portfolio service or a canned theme. If you aren’t a web designer and you have a web design-savvy friend who can help you design your portfolio site, see if you can trade work — this would allow you to get your own site at your own domain name. The earlier you get your portfolio at your own domain name, the better.
Some portfolio communities to research:
2) Include screenshots of your work.
Before you turn your design work over to a client, make sure to collect some images of your work showing it as you intended it to be used. A picture really is worth a thousand words. On the technical side, make certain that your images are optimized for the web so that they don’t take too long to load. People have short attention spans and will hit the backspace button if your page is slow in loading. If you are a programmer, you might think a screenshot isn’t necessary, but it will allow clients to see the kind of project you worked on and some of the functionality that you built.
3) Write up what you did.
Even though a picture is worth a thousand words, you need to be sure not to skimp on explaining your role in each project. Describe what you did on the project and what technologies you used, making sure to keep in mind that you want to convey your “value added” for the client. Remember, you want future clients and employers to understand what they will gain when they hire you. If you worked on a team, be clear about what you did on your own.
4) Choose your best work.
Don’t include everything you ever did. Favor real-world projects and projects that had real clients if possible. If you don’t have any of these, then start doing work for friends, relatives, and/or nonprofits to get some of these projects into your portfolio. You will learn TONS, and your portfolio will show it! If possible, get your portfolio reviewed by someone in the field to help you select what to include.
5) Get testimonials.
If a client likes your work, they may have said so in an email. Ask them if you can use an excerpt on your portfolio site. If they didn’t put anything in writing, but are happy, then ask them if they would mind writing up a statement or two about how the project went or how the product you created is benefiting them.
6) Include your contact information.
Make it easy for people to hire you. You might want to link to an online resume at LinkedIn or include a resume on your site.
7) Be yourself, while maintaining professionalism.
Let your personality shine through your portfolio. You don’t have to be a robot. People like to hire real people. Consider including a picture of yourself on an About page to gain some credibility and good will. Think about your target audience, but also think about how you want to portray yourself to the world. Being professional doesn’t mean your site has to be stiff and boring. Get some style in there — the kind of style that will impress your target audience.
8) Use social media to get the word out.
When you add a project, Tweet a link to your portfolio to get people to look at your site. On your portfolio site, consider blogging about topics in your field to show that you have a passion for what you do and to show that you know what you’re doing. If you have good communication skills, that’s one more great thing in your favor during a job search.
That’s it! Your portfolio can be the best thing you do for your career. Take time to create a portfolio that conveys your strengths, your passion, and a bit of who you are… Good luck!