How to create a stand-out portfolio

How to create a stand-out portfolio

In a world where attention spans are decreasing by the second, it’s important for your creative portfolio to stand out and grab the attention of a busy Hiring Manager. Think of your portfolio as a chance to showcase your hard work, and let’s put it out there, no one does it quite like you!

The tough part is knowing where to start with your portfolio project… so, we've put together some tips to help:

Audience

How would you usually approach a new project or brief? Think about your audience, and then put yourself in their shoes. What will they want to see and what are you trying to achieve? A Hiring Manager will want the same outcome as you, which is ultimately to find the right talent to fill a role or a project brief and you’re looking for your next great opportunity, a win-win right? Ensuring that your portfolio is clear, easy to follow and engaging will help the user to connect with your work.

Quality over quantity

You might be worried that you don’t have enough content to showcase within your portfolio, but it’s not ALL about quantity. A couple of well-explained examples is much more valuable than a dozen short examples that focus on the end result.

If you're Mid - Senior level you should include all of your paid work and avoid showcasing spec work. If you’re just starting out and looking for content to shape your portfolio, you could look at creating example projects, (e.g. choose a brand and redesign their mobile interface), or apply for intern projects or work experience.

If possible, we would suggest having at least one piece of real work featured that you've completed for a client or business, as this will show how you've understood a brief to fulfil their needs.


Don’t oversell yourself

Not being realistic with your portfolio will only hinder yourself later. Be honest and clear with your work, don’t exaggerate your involvement within a project and don’t plagiarise. You’re setting an example of what your future employers can expect from you – so showcase your work only. Remember to show your "failures" - It's great to appear perfect but it's not realistic... how you approach and solve a problem is just as important as the end result, and this will help a Hiring Manager to understand your thought process.

Don’t forget that a Hiring Manager will want to know more about you and not just the work you've produced, incorporate your experience, background, and interests to your portfolio so that the reader can learn more about you as a person.

Review your work

  • Take a step back. Open your portfolio with a fresh mind and navigate through it as though you’re looking at a stranger’s work for the first time. You’ll get an idea of how the reader will feel, is it easy to understand? Does it tell a clear narrative?
  • Don’t get caught up in just the design aspect of your portfolio, it's super important to check the fine details. Any typos or mistakes will look unprofessional and sloppy. A great tip is to ask a friend or a colleague to look through it for you for any feedback or comments.


Final tips

  • Summarise each project
  • Don't make accessibility hard with passwords and logins
  • Include mobile/desktop visuals
  • Collate achievements as you go
  • Don't use complicated terminology
  • Show where you want to continue learning and expand your skillset
  • Record every project you work on, so you can continue to build your portfolio

The most important thing is to have fun building your portfolio! This is all of your fabulous work that you’ve put your time and effort into – think of it as your personal brand that you can continue to add to.

Our Digital South Meetup group recently ran an UXDG Portfolio Workshop to help Junior to Mid-Level UXers get started. Join us on Meetup to be the first to know about any upcoming events.

Good luck and we wish you all the best with your job search.

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