Landing your dream job can be a long and tiring process, filled with interview prep, dressing smartly and updating your CV more times than you can count.
Along with that first-class CV though, one of the best weapons you can have in your interview arsenal is a great looking portfolio, showcasing the best work you’ve done in the past. After all, employers want interviewees to demonstrate just how great they can be for their business, so there’s no better way of doing that than by showing them what you’ve done before.
Nevertheless, creating an effective portfolio is much easier said than done—it takes time and dedication to ensure the best version of you and your work comes across to your potential employer.
Fortunately, we’re here to help guide you through the process. Whether you work as a journalist, graphic designer, photographer, or something else entirely—here are our top tips on how to design and show off your work portfolio effectively.
Decide what you want to show off.
Everyone has pieces of work that they’re prouder of than others—whether it be photographs you’ve taken or articles that you’ve written. When it comes to building your portfolio, you need to make sure you’re putting forward this work, in order to demonstrate the best of what you can do.
However, with that, you need to make sure that what you’re including is varied. If you’re going for a journalism interview, for example, having a portfolio full of Q&A interview articles written in a similar style doesn’t show much variety. Throw in the odd in-depth feature article or news piece as well—show off your writing style and make it clear to your audience that you aren’t just a one-trick pony.
Make sure it’s relevant.
When you’re deciding what to include in your portfolio, one key question you need to ask yourself is: is this relevant? Going back to our journalism example, if you know that the role will largely focus on sports writing, showcase articles you’ve written that are relevant to that.
While it may be tempting to create an all-in-one portfolio (i.e. one portfolio you can use for multiple jobs), being able to refine it for individual employers will demonstrate how interested in the position you are, which can only be a good thing.
Say you’re applying for a travel photographer position for example, having a portfolio filled with wedding photographs won’t help too much—tailor it to the role you’re applying to.
Don’t make it too long.
One of the big mistakes that interviewees make is producing portfolios that are far too long. No employer wants to see literally every piece of work you’ve done before—they won’t have the time to look at it and could be put off as a result.
Your portfolio needs to be streamlined and only give your audience a snippet of who you are and what you can do. It also needs to be well-organized and in the exact order you want it to be read or looked at. There’s no point having your best work at the end, for instance, as chances are, nobody will see it.
Think about the presentation.
OK, so you’ve chosen your best pieces of work and the order you want them to feature in—now comes the fun part: the presentation.
The way in which you present your work can really make or break how well it comes across to a prospective employer. Generally, the more you can stand out, the better.
Think of innovative ways you can present your work in—if you’re a journalist for example, why not show off your design and writing skills simultaneously by organizing, designing and printing a bespoke magazine that incorporates your best articles? Or, if you’re a photographer, how about printing high-quality versions of your best images and presenting them in a luxury photo album?
By demonstrating your work portfolio in a unique way, you will not only impress your target audience, but you’ll stick in their mind as well. Employers interview a lot of candidates, so doing all you can to stand out can make the difference between being offered the position or not.
While it is perfectly possible to land a job without needing a portfolio to hand, having one can really help—for three key reasons: first, they show an interest and dedication towards the job you’ve applied for, by designing a portfolio tailored to each application. Second, they give you something to talk to prospective employers about during an interview, helping settle your nerves when you feel stressed. Third, they show off your best work and demonstrate your skill set in a much more effective way than talking ever could.
Portfolios are effectively an extension of yourself—a platform to demonstrate who you are, and what you’re best at. Make the most of having that opportunity—dream jobs are difficult to come by but, with a great looking portfolio, it can become that much easier to land one.