Whether you are a student looking for your first job, or an experienced professional with years of experience in your field, a design portfolio is essential when looking for work. A strong portfolio can help you get hired as much as a CV and an interview can hinder it. Producing something that shows off your skills and puts you ahead of the competition is, however, not so simple.
In this article, we will look at some tips on how to create a design portfolio that will get you hired. The world of digital demand means that there are more designers than ever trying to find work — making it even more important that your portfolio stands out from the rest and showing why hiring you will be worth their time and money.
What is a design portfolio?
A design portfolio is the collection of work that you produce and make available to potential employers or clients. A combination of your CV and examples of your work, a portfolio is a snapshot of your skills and experience as a designer and should be something that you go to great lengths to create and maintain. If you are looking for freelance work, a design portfolio is also something that you can use as a marketing tool to get clients.
Businesses will usually want to see examples of your past work before they hire you, so being able to show your work in a portfolio is essential. If you are looking for work in-house, an in-house design portfolio can help you get noticed and promoted within a company once you’re hired. A good design portfolio is a necessary tool for any designer looking for work. Whether you are freelancing or applying for a job, you will need to show your past work/ideas in a portfolio.
Before you start
A good design portfolio can take a long time to create — so be sure that it is something that you are committed to before you start. Employers have little patience for designers who have a poor portfolio. They want to see that you are serious about your work and they will be unlikely to hire you until this is clear. Get your CV up to scratch before you start to create your design portfolio. Employers will want to see your education and experience on your CV before they move on to your portfolio — so make sure that it represents you accurately.
If you are looking to get hired in-house, you will also want to make sure that your CV reflects your experience so that it is relevant to the company you are applying to. Also, consider what type of work you want to do when creating your design portfolio. Ideally, you will want to create a design portfolio that showcases the type of design work that you are looking for. If you are a designer looking for freelance or contract work, you will want your design portfolio to showcase your design skills in a way that makes it easy for potential clients to understand what you can do. If you are looking for a job in-house, your design portfolio should be tailored to showcase your skills and experience in a way that shines in a team environment.
Choose your medium carefully
Be sure to choose a medium that showcases your skills and abilities and reflects your personality as a designer. While a PDF or Word document might be a quick and easy way to collect your work and showcase it, most hiring managers want to see your work in a visual format. The majority of designers produce their work in digital format, which means that they will want to see it on a screen — this is how they work, after all. If you are looking for freelance work, you might want to consider using a website and/or blog to showcase your work. If you are looking for work in-house, however, you will want to choose a format that is easy for managers to pass around the office and use to promote your work internally.
Show your best work
A design portfolio is not a place to show your average or poor work; rather, it is a chance to show your best graphic design art. Employers and potential clients want to see your best work because they want to know what level of work they can expect from you if they hire you. You might need to show more than one example of each type of work, however, especially if you are applying to different types of work or work environments. For example, if you are looking to get hired by a marketing company, you might want to show your website design skills and copywriting skills. Take care when showing multiple examples of your work, however: it is easy to overload a client or hiring manager and makes your portfolio look too busy.
Be selective with the work you include
You might have spent a lot of time on your work — but you might not have spent enough time curating it. Employers will want to see examples of your best work but they also want to know what you are capable of — so think about what you want them to see in your design portfolio and make sure that you only include work that reflects this. If you have worked on a wide variety of projects, you might want to create two different design portfolios — one showcasing your website design work and one showcasing your logo design work.
Or you might want to create a single design portfolio that showcases the variety of skills that you have as a designer. The key here is to be selective with the work that you include in your design portfolio so that you are showing your best work — and so that your portfolio is easy for a hiring manager to navigate. Avoid overcomplicating things when creating your design portfolio: keep it simple, show your best work, and make it easy for a hiring manager to navigate and understand your work.
Keep it fresh and current
Design is a constantly evolving field — so be sure that you keep your design portfolio fresh as your skills and education (and outlook) evolve. A design portfolio is a great way of keeping your skills and experience current and relevant. If you are a student or recent graduate, it is essential that you keep your design portfolio fresh with your best work from each project that you work on.
By doing so, you will be able to show your progress over time and show hiring managers that you are capable of sustained and creative work. If you are a seasoned designer, you will also want to keep your design portfolio fresh with your best work and examples of your most recent projects. By doing so, you will show hiring managers that you are capable of producing relevant, creative work — even when you are under pressure and working to tight deadlines.
A design portfolio is an essential part of any designer’s job hunt. Employers want to see what you’ve done in the past and how you’ve applied your skills and expertise to real-world projects and challenges. In this article, we’ve discussed what a design portfolio is, why it’s important, and how you can create one. We’ve also discussed what to consider before you start building your portfolio, what medium to use for your portfolio, what to show in your portfolio, how to keep it fresh, and how to publish it online.