How can I build a portfolio of my work?

Thu, 02/02/2012 - 19:44 -- nick

As your career progresses you're bound to build up a list of achievements that you will want to show off when job hunting. Starting out you’ll have less work to show and the portfolio can be pieced together using any designs and creative you’ll have from previous places, such as art and design school.
Also include any projects you have undertaken – paid or unpaid – in between studying which show your talents. At this stage you need to show potential and you will not be expected to have paid, finished projects to show.

Starting work
As you begin to gain work experience you’ll also gain samples to show, you may even have too much. Pick your best work – but always keep work you are not so keen on – judging a portfolio is very subjective – and what you think is not good, someone else may value.
Much of your work can be converted from ‘hard copy’ into electronic form as a file which you can then email to prospective employers. Even better, create your own web page that you can update and keep fresh with examples of your work and simply refer any interested employer to it.
Remember, even in the digital age, keeping hard copies of anything is vital - and sometimes, when going to interview, a piece of work in a traditional portfolio case can be produced and discussed.

Being Selective
Your portfolio is about you and your talents – but you need to bear in mind what the market is looking for too.
In other words you need to be commercially minded. As you become more experienced you’ll have a better feel for what is relevant so you can start to tailor your portfolio to the situations you are applying for.
If a recruiter or employer asks to be sent examples then get some idea of what they need. Remember, no employer will want to be bombarded with reams of work – especially if it is not relevant. Your portfolio should therefore be a flexible for any given situation.

Think CV
It’s easy to forget that your CV is also part of what you are offering – and this will often be asked for before your portfolio. You need to think about whether your CV is actually opening doors for you in the first place. It’s no good having a superb, up to date and exciting portfolio if your CV is out of date, badly written and drab.
Consult the free CV templates to make sure your presentation in both areas is equally strong.

Aim to entertain
Once you have your content sorted out, don’t stop there. Your portfolio is a presentation, it is there to engage, entertain and wow the recipient.
A few good samples, imaginatively laid out can have more impact than lots of excellent work all cramped and bundled together. It’s worthwhile getting someone who has experience in looking at or creating portfolios to review yours.
Once you gain experience and confidence you’ll find you automatically know what works and what to do. As a general rule, if you are engaged and excited by what your portfolio says and shows, then the recipient will be too.