Tips for Creating a Compelling Portfolio

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creating portfolio

When you’re trying to score your dream job, your resume, degree, and experience are all important — but when it comes down to it, clients and employers are more interested in what you can do than where you went to school. So, how do you show your future boss you’ve got what it takes? With a compelling portfolio that shows off all your best work, of course!

Here are 5 tips for creating a portfolio that’ll knock their socks off:

1) Pay Attention to Format

Your wonderful work isn’t the only thing a person browsing your portfolio will see: They’ll also notice how you choose to present it. That means you need to pay attention to user experience.

Make sure your online portfolio loads quickly, navigation is easy and intuitive, and your pieces are all clearly labeled. If you have any web design or copywriting skills, now’s the time to show them off. If not, you’ll find it worth your while to commission someone who does. A physical portfolio should be well organized and cleanly laid out.

Pro tip: Since a viewer is more likely to flip through your physical portfolio in order from start to finish, make sure your first and last pieces are your very best work.

2) Pick Your Best Work — No, Really

It’s easy to feel like all your work is your best work, especially when you spent a lot of time on it or have fond memories of creating it. However, putting together a portfolio that will represent you to potential clients and employers means ditching any piece that doesn’t make you glow with pride. When you choose which pieces to include in your portfolio, look carefully at each individual piece. If you don’t think someone would hire you based on that piece alone, leave it out of your portfolio.

3) Give Them a Peek Behind the Scenes

While it may seem counterintuitive to let potential clients and employers see your half-finished pieces, there’s value in showcasing your creative process from start to finish. Not only does it remove any doubt about whether you alone were the creative muscle behind a project in your portfolio, it also helps viewers understand how you work.

4) Show More Than Just Your Work

As you put together your portfolio, remember to imagine what it looks like to someone with no background on the projects you’ve worked on. A handful of examples of your work don’t mean much if they’re presented on their own.

Viewers will get a better sense of your process and your skills if they have an understanding of what was requested for a particular project, some background on the client, and — if you can get it — feedback on what the client thought of the final product. Obviously your work is the main event, but supplementary information will help put it in context.

5) Get Personal

It’s helpful to have an online portfolio showcasing all your best work, but if you really want to stand out during the interview process, present your potential future employer with a hand-picked selection of the samples most relevant to the position you’re angling for. Not only does this show off your skills, it also shows the interviewer that you have a good understanding of what the position entails, making you more likely to score that dream job.

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Katherine Penta
Brand and copy expert with over six years of experience developing brand personas, managing content, and writing copy for brands like Neutrogena, Visa, and Adobe.