How to make a portfolio that
will help you stand out
1. Plan which work you want to showcase
Planning which of your projects will go into your portfolio is an essential first step, as with most things in life it goes quality over quantity. The key is to select your best work and prioritise commissioned projects over personal ones. This will show that you have experience in dealing with clients and making amendments based on their input, articulating your design choices and working to deadlines. Personal projects are great for practice and experimentation but when it comes to getting hired for a job you want to showcase not only your talent but the qualities you have acquired.
2. Think about what kind of job you’re applying for
You should always try to showcase the kind of work you want to be hired for. If you want to specialise in branding, showcase logos, stationary and packaging design instead of, for example, websites. Focusing on the field you want to get into will give anyone looking at your portfolio the idea that you’re a specialist and have experience in that field. Showing diversity is great in most cases but when it comes to your portfolio you want to avoid making anyone think that you’re a jack of all trades and just mediocre in everything you do instead of portraying the best work of your preferred field and wowing people with your exceptional skills. Remember, it is better to be seen as amazing in one field than mediocre in five different fields.
3. Keep it simple and easy to navigate
Whether you’re working on a print portfolio or an online portfolio, make sure your design is simple as to not distract from your work and it’s easy to navigate. The best choice would be neutral colours that enhance the quality of your work. The font you choose should also be simplistic and fitting to the personal style you’re trying to underline. Choosing a sans serif for clean, futuristic or modern designs compared to a classic serif font that should be used if your portfolio contains more sophisticated or elegant designs.
4. Keep words to a minimum
Of course a portfolio should include a small section about you, finding the right tone and words for it can be quite tricky though. Make sure your tone fits the kind of projects you have worked on, your personality or the message of the company you’re applying at. If most of your projects are fun, young or modern designs choose a tone that will fit it naturally instead of trying hard to sound sophisticated. Once you have found your style it is time to write your text. Try to keep it as short as possible, including only necessary information because the focus should always stay on your work. Make sure you don’t over explain your work progress either, if certain projects need more information try to find a way to visualise it rather than writing about it. Only do this when it is absolutely necessary, for example when the process involved a lot of detail or planning, other than that your work should always be able to speak for itself.
5. Keep your portfolio up to date
Go through your portfolio every couple of months to make sure your chosen work is still your best. If you update your portfolio regularly you will avoid having to invest a lot of time into re-doing your portfolio and you will make sure that it is up to your standards and best represents your skills. Nothing is worse than applying for a job with a portfolio that’s a year old and questioning yourself afterwards if you would have gotten the job if you had just updated your portfolio before sending it.