Table of Contents
Not everyone needs a professional portfolio.
But you might.
Are you creative? Then, you need a portfolio.
Portfolios show, not tell, your experience. You can demonstrate your skills, not merely list them on a résumé.
Many professions expect you to have both a portfolio and a résumé:
Artists, writers, academics, architects, engineers, designers, photographers, videographers, journalists, web developers, graphic designers, marketers, consultants, freelancers… the list goes on.
You wouldn’t apply for a job without having a résumé. Failing to have a creative portfolio is also a bad sign. You may be perceived as having little experience. You may not be taken seriously. You can't show anyone how good you are.
A portfolio helps you stand out in the competitive job market.
You need to stand out. Especially online.
Let’s see how to do it.
Why Create a Professional Portfolio?
Portfolios accomplish a great many things.
- Online portfolios enhance your digital presence with a show of authority and credibility in your field.
- You can demonstrate your expertise and versatility.
- Your experience can be proven with real examples, not just your opinions.
- Portfolios are attractive to clients. They can see what you do and how well you do it.
- Employers like portfolios. They show creativity and problem-solving.
- Your personal branding is evident in a portfolio.
- Online portfolios are interactive. You can update them and collect feedback from your viewers.
Online Portfolio Benefits
Accessibility: Gone are the days of printing out scrapbooks or folios of your work and lugging them to one-on-one interviews. Your portfolio should be easily accessible 24/7. Your audience wants the convenience of looking you up online to see how impressive you are. This is your chance to shine. You don’t even need to be there in person. Show, don’t tell.
Dynamic content: Depending on your skills, you can be as creative with your portfolio as you are with your work. Text, images, videos, interactivity, downloads—all are possible. Don’t clutter up your portfolio, though. Each content element should be part of your story and not a gimmick to impress with web development (unless you’re a web developer, of course).
Updates and maintenance: Remember that each view of your portfolio is the first impression of your latest work. Keep your portfolio up to date. Standing out requires an ongoing investment in relevant, high-quality content. You want to tailor your portfolio to your specific audience as much as possible. Your audience’s needs change, and so should your portfolio.
Networking Opportunities: An online portfolio can serve as a networking hub, connecting you with other professionals, industry leaders, and potential collaborators. They can view your work and contact you directly. Having an online contact form makes this easy for the people visiting your site. If they’re interested in you, they can reach out immediately.
Job market advantage: Having an online portfolio helps you stand out from those who don’t take the time to invest in their professional image. Think of the impression you get of a well-designed online portfolio. You want your visitors to experience the same feeling. Impressing potential clients and employers is worth the time and effort you put into your portfolio and website. It can make the difference between success and failure.
What Goes Into a Professional Portfolio?
Not everything goes into your portfolio. Overwhelming people with information is a bad idea. Nobody has the time or interest to look at anything but your best work.
Think, “Quality over quantity.”
Then consider, “Who is my audience?”
You’re not building your portfolio to impress yourself. You must design your portfolio for those who might help and support you. They are your true audience.
Online Portfolio Elements
Having mentioned the two most important design points–quality and audience–let’s list some common elements in great, stand-out online portfolios.
- Home page or introduction
- Contact information or contact form
- Professional biography
- Résumé or CV
- Work samples, including visual media
- Project descriptions and rationale
- Testimonials and reviews
- Awards and recognition
- Education and professional certifications
Stand-out Portfolio Strategies
Unique and professional design: Whether you design from scratch or use a web portfolio template, make your personal website and portfolio unique. Include elements of your personal brand. A clean layout is a must. Spend time on colors, typography, and media. Depending on your resources, you may find it worthwhile to consult with or hire a good web or graphic designer.
High-quality content: It can’t be overemphasized that quality is more important than quantity. You may have one truly excellent work example that tells your story well. That may be enough. If you are showing your versatility, show a few great examples that contrast with each other. This will prove that you’re creative and concise. These are impressive professional credentials.
A compelling narrative: Tell your story well. Ensure that your viewers can follow your story from beginning to end, even if you have them take a few side trips into your various offerings. Include the context, the challenges you faced, and how you solved them. The results of your creativity can make your portfolio engaging and memorable.
Is your portfolio ready? Do you need a job?
All these tools are AI-automated. They enable you to reach the people who make the hiring decisions by targeting every ATS-friendly résumé and cover letter to a specific job description.
AIApply helps ensure that a real human reads and responds to your job application, cover letter, and résumé.
This is how your linked portfolio gets seen. Once a human is in the loop, you have a chance to impress. Be ready.