6 Tips to Make a Digital Portfolio That Pops

By Robert Half on August 31, 2021 at 10:39pm

Whether you are — or are striving to be — a graphic designer, UX designer, copywriter, marketing professional, photographer or other accomplished creative, you need a great digital portfolio. It should effectively showcase your skills and be easily findable by or shareable with employers.

But standing out is easier said than done.

How can you increase the odds that your digital portfolio will catch the eye of an extremely busy hiring manager? Consider the following e-portfolio best practices:

1. Select your strongest samples

You might be tempted to throw a wide selection of samples into your digital portfolio. But as the old saying goes, less is more. Seven to 10 samples should adequately demonstrate your skills. In fact, research by our company says eight is the sweet spot.

The samples you choose for your e-portfolio should:

  • Represent your core strengths, industry experience, technical ability and range
  • Be no more than five years old — unless it’s impressive work from a high-profile campaign
  • Be your best work, opening with your top or most relevant piece (and closing with the runner-up so you start and finish strong)
  • Be tailored to the employer — whether they’re a Fortune 500 firm, a scrappy startup or something in between — to help ensure your online portfolio content is pertinent and will appeal to the company you’re contacting

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2. Include detailed caption information

A well-written and compelling description of each sample adds vital context about your contribution to the work and your creative process. Your caption information should include:

  • The client or agency you did the work for
  • A few sentences outlining the main goal of the project
  • Your role in the project
  • When the work was completed

Also highlight any positive outcomes related to the sample. Metrics matter. For example, did it help lift sales or boost online traffic? Or did the piece win any awards or receive coverage in the media? Advertise how well it was received and how effective it was.

3. Focus on the user experience

Don’t force a hiring manager to spend a lot of time clicking and scrolling. Also, don’t be afraid to use white space. A clean look is always better than a cluttered one. As for the overall format of your digital portfolio, consider using one of these simple — but effective — approaches:

  • Industry-specific — As an example, if you’re applying for a position at a hospital, lead with your healthcare-related samples or other work that’s in a style or has functionality similar to that industry’s standards — or that could improve on industry standards.
  • Chronological — This format works best for entry-level creatives. Start with your most recent work to show off your best samples.

4. Give your digital portfolio a test run

Because you want prospective employers or clients to have an easy and enjoyable experience when reviewing your work, put your online portfolio to the test before sharing it. Make sure it’s easy to view on every version of every browser on every platform. Also take care to:

  • Check image load times
  • Verify that the navigation is intuitive (as noted earlier)
  • Confirm that your e-portfolio is responsive for mobile devices
  • Feature high-quality photographs of any printed work
  • Carefully proofread all captions

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5. Showcase your unique creative style

Companies and hiring managers want to get a sense of who you are. But here again, less is often more when it comes to adding personal flair to your online portfolio.

One way to flex your creative style without going overboard is to match your digital portfolio design to your personal brand. Just make sure the elements you use are consistent with the look and feel of your other job search materials, like your website and resume.

6. Put it on LinkedIn

A lot of hiring managers search LinkedIn early in their hiring process. Take advantage of this by having your digital portfolio front and center on your profile page. This can immediately set you apart from other potential candidates if the potential employer likes your work. And if not, it saves you the time of talking to a company that may not be the best fit for your talents.

Another idea is to approach your e-portfolio as if it were a client project. You know what you need to market: you. Take time to learn more about your target audience and understand their needs — and then really think about how you’d like the employer to experience your work.

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