A Designer’s Guide to Building A Portfolio

You have acquired the skills. You have gained the experience and have completed projects ready for showcase. Step one in your creative job search is building a portfolio. A solid portfolio of design work is essential when on the hunt for design jobs. As an experienced and aspiring top Graphic Designer, your portfolio is a fundamental piece to your job search and to potential employers. This material will speak the most to your work and capabilities. If you have yet to gather your work and build an online portfolio, now is the time, considering it’s becoming more unlikely to secure a job without one.

Unsure of how to make your portfolio stand out for the crowd? Having trouble finding your starting point? Fear not, we have a list of expert tips for building a portfolio to impress:

1. Choose the Right Platform

The very first stage and arguably the most significant is selecting the right kind of platform. Sites such as Wix, WordPress and Square are particularly easy to use and effective, especially if you are building a portfolio for the first time. WordPress is often recommended for its easy use and flexibility. Portfolio websites, such as Behance, Portfoliobox, About Me, and Carbonmade are also great portfolio building sites to start, offering awesome starter templates.

If you don’t feel comfortable designing your own portfolio, especially if you have little or no experience with coding, there is of course always the option of hiring a professional. The results will likely be more striking and sophisticated, but it could end up costing you a pretty penny.

2. Position Your Work

Obviously, your portfolio should showcase only your very best work – cut out anything that you believe is mediocre. It’s more impressive to have your portfolio page sparsely populated with strong pieces work as opposed to cluttered with average pieces that serve more as filler. In this case, “less is more.” Use your best judgement, and choose pieces at your discretion. Choosing the right portfolio pieces is a fine a balancing act.

“Less is more.'”

The Professional Association for Design elaborated that the positioning of your work is key. Whether your work is featured in a clickable list or spread out on one page, position your work to show the strongest pieces at the start, in middle and then at the end. By doing this, you have the potential to capture the employer’s attention from the outset, keeping them interested from start to finish

3. Describe the Business Intent

Especially important if you are applying for design or digital marketing jobs, prospective employers will want to know the story behind each piece. Why did you approach the design this way? Most importantly, what was the design meant designed to achieve in terms of marketing and sales? Write a concise yet detailed account for each piece of design work you feature, outlining the goals of the project, design specifications and business outcomes. Designers who are able to demonstrate both creative ability and business acumen make for a stellar graphic design candidate.

Ensuring your designs are unique and original is key.
Designers who not only possess creative ability, but business acumen make for a stellar graphic design candidate.

4. Show Variety

Employers will be searching for candidates with a diverse range of skills and capabilities. Each and every piece of work featured in your portfolio should be as creative and as innovative as possible, Canva argued. Showcasing your ability to work on wide array of projects and within a variety will invariably embolden your chances of securing the position.

5. Keep it Fresh

Don’t to let the work featured in your portfolio grow stale. If the work is coming in, continue to update your portfolio. Be proud of the length of your career, but bear in mind the date of your past projects. Canva suggested that anything older than say three years should probably be removed. An up-to-date portfolio demonstrates to an employer that you are continually working and staying abreast of all the latest trends in graphic design.

6. Develop a Personal Brand

Diversity in your work paired with a unifying theme is key to your portfolio and overall person brand as a designer. Build your own brand to promote your own unique sense of style, while showcasing your ability to accommodate different design requests and specifications of business brands. Let your personality show through your personal logo and color palette choices within your online portfolio.

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