Four Ways to Improve your Digital Portfolio

Posted on Oct 5 2014 - 5:08pm by admin

Whether you’re an IT System Admin or Application Architect, you can all agree that the job search is much different for those of us who work in the digital world. A simple resume just doesn’t say much about our skills, talents, and capabilities. While there isn’t much to differentiate the most gifted designers from an average Joe on paper, your digital portfolio can speak volumes about why you deserve the gig over the next guy. Whatever your specialty may be, from web design to print, and everything in between, these four tips for improving your digital portfolio will enable you to really stand out against your competition.  

Keep it focused. This is not the place for your life’s work. You want to keep your digital portfolio simple, current, and filled with only your best work, focusing on the elements that showcase your strongest talents. Let’s take a moment and pretend you’re a hiring manager. You’ve got a stack of applications a mile high, and you need to find a new staffer immediately. You’re not going to be spending much time reviewing each applicant. Most likely, you’ll scan the application then spend about two minutes checking out each applicant’s web site. Two minutes. That’s it. How are you going to be perceived in only two minutes?

If you’re searching for a job as a web designer, showcasing your magazine layouts is not helpful, and you’re going to get passed up for the job.

Keep it simple. If your portfolio is bogged down with several images of every project you’ve touched in the past 10 years, no one is ever going to see it all, and you’re doing yourself an absolute disservice. Take the time to clean it up! Showcase your 9 most valuable pieces of work, max. Move anything less important—yet still relevant—to an archive page of your website where someone who has the time to dig a little deeper can see it, and remove it entirely from the PDF version. You want your best work front and center. Avoid putting too much on each page, and leave lots of white space so your art is able to breath. Textured backgrounds and embellishments take attention away from where it should be. Each page should be centered around the work itself, with minimal distractions. Simple, short captions and contact information are all you need.

Put your best foot forward, letting your art speak for itself and giving it plenty of space to do so.

Keep it organized. Cutting down on clutter will help you tremendously, but if your portfolio is an unorganized mess, it won’t be leaving a good impression on anyone. Whether your portfolio is a PDF or a website, it needs to be presented in a way that tells a story, with each piece (or page) leading into the next. Separate things according to theme, style, or type, whichever makes the most sense for your personal body of work. Be sure it is organized in a way that will make sense to the viewer without you being there to physically walk them through it.

Organizing your portfolio well will also signal to the audience that you yourself are organized and neat.

Be available. One of the biggest mistakes I see on digital portfolios is a lack of contact information. If someone stumbles across your website and falls in love with your work, they need to be able to call you. It is imperative to have contact information posted on each page of your website, as well the front and last pages of a PDF version. This may seem simple, but you’d be amazed at the people who seem to overlook it or assume that one page is enough. Think back to the two minutes the recruiter spent on each portfolio in the example above. Are you willing to risk him not being able to quickly locate your phone number when he is ready to make a call?

Being available means you’re providing a potential employer with all the tools he or she needs to easily establish communication with you.

By following the four tips mentioned above, your portfolio will look and feel much more professional, making it more accessible and preferable to potential employers. Remember to keep it focused, clean, organized, and to include all of your contact information to make it easy for you to be seen as the asset you are …and to get the call you’ve been waiting for. How can you improve your portfolio today?

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