10 Steps to a Powerful Portfolio

Looking to build your first portfolio, but not sure where to start? I don’t blame you: portfolio organization is tricky! But, I’m here to (hopefully) make your life easier. I’ve put together 10 steps that will help you on your powerful portfolio journey!

1. All Killer, No Filler

Only show your best work! Go for quality, not quantity. An employer will be more impressed with a few “wow-factor” pieces than a multitude of projects that simply show the amount of work you’ve done (that’s what your resume is for). Which brings me to my next point…

2. Decide on the Number of Pieces to Showcase

10-15 pieces/projects is plenty for a printed portfolio. Any more than that, and the viewer will have completely forgotten the first few projects by the time they reach the end. As for an online portfolio, I personally feel that there is no limit to the number of pieces – but, I also advise organizing your projects into categories so that they are not all grouped together on one page.

3. Start Striking and End Flawless

Start and end your portfolio with a strong project, and fill with a plethora of equally striking projects in between. Consistency is key: the first and last projects should be on the same design level/skill level as the other pieces you include. Don’t showcase any duds!

4. Let Your Work Do the Talking

Don’t over-embellish, especially on your portfolio website. Having animations on your site will be too distracting. The most important thing that should stand out is your work, so interactive animation isn’t necessary. Allow the work to speak for itself by making your projects easy to view in large formats.

5. Organize for the Job You Want

Include pieces that are tailored to a specific employer. If you are applying for a print design position, don’t show much, if any, web design work (I speak from personal experience on this). Unless, of course, the website correlates with print work (in order to showcase brand consistency)… Then it’s a whole different story.

6. Create an Online Presence

Create an online portfolio website and promote yourself on social media. Having an online portfolio is great for a couple of reasons: 1 – It allows you to display more work, and 2 – Employers will be able to research you before bringing you in for an interview. And, if you really want to get noticed by potential employers, promote some of your projects on social media platforms like BehanceLinkedin or Facebook (Click Here for more info on creating an online portfolio).

7. Include Self-Initiated Work

Including self-initiated work shows where your passions lie. Showcasing a few of these types of projects will give a potential employer a better idea of your skill level and whether or not you are the right fit for the job. But, don’t include too many of these projects – employers are more concerned with your past “real-world” work experience.

8. Showcase Variety

Include a multitude of different design forms, such as web design, logo/brand identity design, print material, etc. When applying for a job, employers want to see what you are capable of, so showcasing a variety of projects is a great way to sell yourself on your abilities.

9. Stay Current

Don’t include anything older than 3 years in a printed portfolio. One of the more important things I’ve personally discovered is that you constantly need to be up on the latest design trends and techniques – and then use what you find as inspiration! Include as many of the most recent findings/projects in your portfolio as possible.

10. Be Confident

Don’t be afraid to show that you are proud of your work (but, don’t be arrogant about it, either). End of story.

Having a strong portfolio is important – it will put you above the other candidates for a job position, and, quite frankly, it just makes you good as a designer *wink*. Good luck, and happy designing!

How do you begin your design career? Check this out