Polishing your Portfolio

Having been a recruiter within the Design industry for a little while now, as you can imagine, I have seen and been through a LOT of UX and Product Design portfolios to pair their creators with their next job. With that said with the knowledge and exposure I have gained I wanted to put together a short piece to help you build and develop a banging portfolio to differentiate you from the competition and secure that next role!

What’s the Purpose?

As we know a portfolio’s purpose is to showcase the best work in your career to help elevate you from competition and support your overall profile, by putting your case studies into context. It is also such a great way to express your personality and personal design styles before being able to speak with someone face to face during a process — the more personal attributes included the better for this. As mentioned, your portfolio is a way to showcase your absolute best of the best work — this is usually your most recent projects so keeping it up to date is key.

If you are not proud of a piece of work, it should not be in your portfolio!

Another strong value of a portfolio is that it is an opportunity to show your design thinking and how you apply this to a project, problem or product; this is one of the major things hiring managers want to see as it is relevant now more than ever that UX and Product Design are not solely visual design roles. You can provide deeper explanations and insights by providing case studies for each project and explain what process lead you to the end product and how, and whether this was successful.

There are a lot of ways to publish your portfolio online including sites such as Dribble and Behance however I would definitely recommend creating your own professional platform/website. This will mean you have full ownership of the layout and styles, you can make it responsive and it also gives an overall more professional look and feel.

Layout/Structure

· Home/Landing Page — this is the first thing people will see and will often determine whether they dive deeper into your folio. Make it friendly and welcoming and ensure your visuals are on point.

· About me — this is a great opportunity to add a little more personality and to talk about you previous experience and how you go to where you are today. I always like to see the mention of hobbies, likes etc here and also find it useful if there is a link available to your CV.

· Projects/Case Studies — this is the most important section as this is where your work will be showcased.

· Contact — the place to provide your preferred contact details whether that be your number, email address or a link to your LinkedIn profile.

Case Studies:

Your case studies are the most important factor of your portfolio and should be given a lot of thought and time. My personal opinion is that 3–4 detailed case studies is the sweet spot and the greatest sell as recruiters and hiring managers usually have multiple to look through; remember you can always show more work upon request or during the process where you feel relevant. For more Junior designers if you are lacking projects I would definitely recommend putting personal projects into your portfolio or things you have worked on whilst training.

Tailoring your case studies to suit a particular type of role can also be a massive benefit; for example if you are keen to work within the Fintech space choose to display projects from this sector. If you are yet to gain hands on experience in your desired area work on a case study/personal project to add; for example this could be redesigning a popular app or platform as this will show hiring managers in this space that you have considered the different necessary factors of designing for this particular sector.

For each case study make sure the full process is available and clearly laid out in a step by step style, including:

· An introduction to the project — set up the problem in the readers mind giving them more context into the original product, what the problem was and what you were instructed to do upon briefing.

· Problem you are working on — give more details on the problems users were facing and set out your deliverables on how to fix/improve/rectify these issues.

· Ideation and Research stage — explain your research methods and how the outcomes relate to users’ needs. You can show this well by creating user personas.

· The Solution (make sure to describe how and why and show the process) — this is where you show how the initial problem was solved and a step by step guide on how you got there.

· Final Product with an overall summary — explain if the process went as planned and if it did not, why? Talk about what you learnt during the project and whether you would do things differently a second time round. Give a personal overview of the project and explain why you believe this is a positive outcome.

Do not be scared to show your wireframes, user flows and process mapping (this is usually in the Solution section); the more you can show your way of thinking the better as this is what recruiters and hiring managers are looking for. As well as this it is important to highlight your own key role and focus within each project and how your input impacted the final product.

Top Tips

· Make your portfolio website responsive and reactive to the user where possible such as pop ups or colour changes when hovering over an icon. I feel this just gives a really polished finished and is something that not all designers will add/consider.

· Make sure your portfolio works across different media platforms, web and mobile being the most important. If I am on the go or working out of hours I will often have a quick look over a portfolio using my phone prior to properly reviewing to get an initial feel for the designers work.

· Don’t be scared to add your own personal style and touches! Recs’ and hiring managers look at a lot of portfolios so make yours stick out and stay in their minds for all the right reasons; for example this could be shown through your choice of colours, layout or typography.

· Don’t forget your audience; keep it in your mind that you’re designing this mainly for recruiters and hiring managers so your content is king and your best work should take centre stage.

Overall I think the main thing to always remember when creating a portfolio is that your content is king and to not shy away from really showcasing yourself and your skills. I really hope that you have found this brief overview useful and that you have gained some elements to take away and add into your own portfolio. If you have any more specific questions or would like any personal help with your own portfolio please do give me a shout! 💛

Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

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Molly Jennings

I am a Senior Recruitment Consultant specialising in UX and Digital Product Design across the Netherlands. 🇳🇱 molly.jennings@fewandfar.io