Is getting a new job on your list of resolutions for 2013? If so, your first step should be to develop (or update) the modern designer’s most pivotal self-promotional tool: an online portfolio of your work. While you’ll still need a hard-copy book for a hiring manager to peruse during the interview, your digital design portfolio is one of the first things an employer will review; it’s what will help you get a foot in the door.
In fact, in a new survey by The Creative Group, 71 percent of advertising and marketing executives said they prefer to view a job candidate’s work samples online. Only 16 percent of respondents said a bound book is best.
photo from Shutterstock
Here are some tips for building and maintaining an online design portfolio that will get results:
1. Aim for simple and straightforward. Time is always of the essence for busy hiring managers. Don’t force them to dig to find your work samples. If you have your own website, make the “Portfolio” section easy to locate. Then, ensure its contents are well organized and free of extraneous bells and whistles. Intuitive navigation and quick load times are critical.
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2. Use the right portfolio-building resources. If you don’t yet have extensive web design skills, there are numerous online resources available to showcase your work. In just a few short steps, you can create an online design portfolio on sites like Behance, Coroflot or design:related. Tumblr, Flickr and even Pinterest are also options.
3. Be selective. Employers prize quality over quantity. It’s easy to upload 100 images, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great idea. Some designers, particularly those just starting out their careers, have a tendency to go overboard. Unfortunately, this tactic can backfire.
You water down your best work when you provide too many work samples. Plus, you’ll lose people if you require endless clicking and scrolling. Just as editing is essential to your print portfolio, be strategic when picking items to include in your digital version.
4. Emphasize ROI. Creative agencies and in-house departments have one thing in common: They seek design candidates who can make an immediate impact. Make it easy for reviewers to see the real-world value you can add.
Give a brief explanation of each piece. Include the name of the client (assuming you have permission), the objective, the role you played, the date completed and any positive results. Providing context and citing noteworthy metrics, such as an increase in web traffic or sales, shows that you’re a bottom-line-oriented business pro.
5. Digitize with care. Obviously, print designers need to digitize their samples for online display. When tackling this task, be sure to use the right equipment.
A professional scanner or camera can make all the difference. While your iPhone or trusty point-and-shoot camera might be fine for happy-hour snapshots, they probably can’t capture the detail or high-quality look you seek. If you lack photography or lighting and staging skills, consider enlisting the help of a photographer friend.
6. Keep it fresh. Your portfolio should be an evolving marketing tool. It needs to encapsulate your full range of skills and most impressive accomplishments. A digital book full of dated samples can hurt your chances even if your designs are impressive.
View your online portfolio as a dynamic work in progress and get into the habit of updating it regularly, at least once or twice a year. Simply put, as you grow and progress, so should your portfolio.