Digital Portfolio Review: Find the Best, Filter Through the Rest

Check marks next to the words digital portfolio checklist.

When you're looking to fill design jobs or other highly competitive creative positions, one of the first things you should consider is the candidate's digital portfolio. But what should you look for? Here's a digital portfolio review checklist to ensure the cream of the crop rises to the top.

Hiring for a freelance or full-time creative role? Inundated with applicants? It can be challenging to differentiate between candidates when there’s overwhelming interest in an open position. Here are some important questions to consider when you’re assessing a job candidate’s digital portfolio.

A digital portfolio review checklist

Did the candidate highlight his or her best work?

Best is the operative word here. Strong applicants understand that quality trumps quantity. A padded digital portfolio featuring mediocre “filler” examples or many variations of the same design should cause you to pause.

Are the work samples relevant?

Candidates should understand not only what qualifies as stellar creative work, but also which examples are most suited for your open position. Just as a cover letter should be customized to the job, so should a digital portfolio. A tailored approach shows that the person researched the role and your company.

Is the digital portfolio up to date?

The creative industry moves fast. Serious candidates are diligent about keeping their digital portfolios current. The bulk of work samples should be from the last several years.

Is it intuitive?

User experience remains a hot topic in the creative industry. Digital portfolios should be easy to navigate without excessive clicking and scrolling. And whether it’s organized chronologically, by media type or by industry, a strong digital portfolio will showcase a job seeker’s skills in a way that is both engaging and clear.

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Is it aesthetically pleasing?

This may seem like a no-brainer, but balancing form and function is critical. The portfolio design should obviously look good, but not distract from the work being presented. Ideally, the look and feel of the digital portfolio should complement the branding of the applicant’s resume, business card and website.

Is the digital portfolio free of errors?

The best candidates approach the digital portfolio with the seriousness of a client project. If a digital portfolio has typo-ridden captions, missing information or broken links, what level of attention to detail would the applicant display on the job?

Is meaningful context provided?

Compelling captions can make a big difference. Savvy creative job seekers understand that we now live in a metrics-focused world. A digital portfolio shouldn’t just be a collection of standout work; it should tell a story about solving real-world client problems. Look for candidates who not only provide captions featuring a description of their role in the project, the date, and any software or special skills used, but also quantifiable information about how the work boosted the bottom line or positively impacted key stakeholders.

Searching for strong digital portfolios? Check out The Creative Group's portfolio examples. Scroll to the bottom of the page to search for creative talent by region.

Editor's note: This post has been updated. It was originally published in November 2013.

Tags: Hiring, Portfolio