Show Me Your Skills! How to Create a Portfolio that Stands Out to Recruiters

By Tiffany Franklin, M.S. Ed.

What Makes You Stand out

Portfolios have long been part of the job search process for artists, designers, architects, and teachers, but in recent years professionals across industries have started using this powerful tool to convey their experience. With the proliferation of free portfolio sites, it’s now easier than ever to create a web page that will demonstrate the experience you write about in your resume and cover letters. A well-conceived web portfolio will provide examples of your Knowledge, Skills and Accomplishments and offer clues regarding your design aesthetic and the way you organize information. Portfolios bring your resume to life and allow recruiters to learn more about you as a candidate.

Designing a web page yourself vs. the free portfolio sites Consider your industry and the job to which you are applying. If you are applying for a Web Designer or Information Architect position, you should have the skills to design your own site as the best example of your work and what you could do for that employer. In other fields that will not involve designing web sites for a living, using one of the existing portfolio sites would be a viable option. Here are a few sites to check out – Coroflot, Behance Network, Carbonmade, Cargo, Dribble, Portfolium, Folionix, and Wix. Some people have even used blogging Platforms such as WordPress or About.me to demonstrate their experience.

Experience to Include In addition to your internship and work experiences, portfolios are great places to showcase your academic projects and other projects outside of class. Create categories of examples to support your skills. Some people list their work by project title, while others will group items under headings such as interactive design, native apps, websites, sketches, logos, and more. It’s up to you to think about your audience (dream job/company) and design your portfolio in a way that tells your story in a compelling way and shows your capabilities in that context.

Tips for Making your Portfolio Effective

  • Select your best work and keep the portfolio updated
  • Be sure to include your contact information
  • Only include work that is your own and include descriptors that show your role in team projects
  • Mention the software you use to create the projects you list (Recruiters often use key word searches to find candidates, including specific software)
  • Edit every page of your portfolio (spelling, grammar, consistent look and feel); get a second opinion
  • Spend time planning your portfolio – clean layout; pay attention to design, colors, and typography
  • Look at other portfolios online and consider the qualities that make some stand out from others
  • Show the phases of your projects where relevant, from initial sketches to final product
  • Include the link for your portfolio on your resume, cover letters and LinkedIn

Remember, I am here to help! Along with resume and cover letter critiques, I can also meet with you to discuss your portfolio and offer suggestions.

Photo credit: cacaroot/iStockphoto.com

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