A digital portfolio is the introduction to a designer’s premier skill set. Along with a well-crafted resume and cover letter, a killer digital portfolio can be the winning combo to landing your dream design position.
When creating a digital portfolio, be mindful of what to include and the effort it will take to showcase your design skills. I have collected information throughout my career to produce these five rules to follow during any digital portfolio creation process.
1.Capitalize on Your Strengths
Preparing a portfolio with a hodgepodge of disconnected designs and animations may be perceived as though you only have an interest in landing a job and lack focus on what the employers’ needs are. Typically, employers do not have a favorable opinion of job seekers who try to deluge a mix of too much at once, so customize your portfolio for the job you want. Knowing what software makes you feel like a rock star can help with selecting your discipline. If you’re a Photoshop, Illustrator, or Indesign ninja, then a graphic design portfolio is what you should produce for graduation. If you rock at Aftereffects and Premiere, then you should concentrate on a demo reel of your motion graphic and editing work. If you love 3D software, consider making a demo reel of your 3D models or animations. You may have skills in all these arenas, but picking one craft to display for a specific portfolio looks very professional.
2.Design for Your Prospective Employer
The portfolio you have as a graphic design college student should not be the portfolio used as a job seeker. The genres of companies you interview with should determine the content of your portfolio, and this will change many times. Don’t worry; its good practice for adapting to different situations and clients.
Also, the understanding advertising markets are important to a designer’s ability to have consistent work. If you’re a designer and your goal is to work for a sports apparel company, create pieces in your portfolio that reflect the type of design used by that company. This brings a sense of relevance and familiarity to the eyes of the prospective employer.
3.Show Completed Examples of Your Work
One of the top things an employer looks for in a portfolio is a complete graphic display. Balance is the key to making your work look complete. If a particular design looks heavy in one place, something has to balance that graphic on the other side to create overall appeal.
Additionally, check the spelling and grammar of your pieces to make sure everything is correct. Verify that you do not have text bleeding off of a page or in the corner of a monitor (if your portfolio includes video). These things may sound elementary, but I can’t express the importance of these fundamentals. If one piece in your portfolio looks unpolished or incomplete, this could create a negative perception for your entire portfolio. You are only as strong as your weakest piece.
4.Stretch Out and Be Versatile
If you love anime and all the pieces in your portfolio show different images of anime artwork but you’re not applying to an anime studio, this extremely “niched” design could work against you. Typically, employers frown upon portfolio presentations that don’t exhibit versatility. (You never know what a client or employer may need from you.) If you don’t have a variety of projects in your portfolio, take some time to explore some different genres. Stretch out! You should be able to create anything for any content ranging from a promotional flyer for a Hip Hop concert to elegant invitations for your sister’s bridal shower. This rule also applies for demo reels.
5.Don’t Forget to Give “Props”
Giving proper credit to a designer who has contributed to a portfolio piece is important. This helps a potential employer recognize your professional integrity. This is a common mistake for the design novice.
For example, if your contribution to a project was motion graphics and you don’t express that in the portfolio, you are implying that you created everything. You are telling the employer that you shot, edited, created the audio tracks, and placed motion graphics to the video. Always credit the work of others—it’s likely that your honesty will pay off in the long run.