For designers and developers, one affair stands aerial aloft résumés, awning letters, and university degrees: the admired portfolio. A abundant portfolio can get you a high-paying, life-restoring job, alike if you don’t accept abundant or any schooling. The antipodal is additionally true: you may accept abounding degrees and lots of acquaintance listed on a résumé, but unless you can authenticate it through a portfolio, that abundant job befalling may still canyon you by.
What makes for a acceptable portfolio? In a sentence, a portfolio that has the accomplished likelihood of landing a job indicates you already accept the abilities to do what you’ll be assassin to do. Will you be accepted to architecture adroit user interfaces for chief citizens? That’s what should be in your portfolio. Is that abeyant job assured that you’ll body React apps application Redux and LotusNotes? Time to breach out that “Domino for Dummies” book.
Many designers and developers anticipate of a portfolio as a simple way to aggregate the things they’ve formed on over the aftermost few years of their careers¹. While that ability accomplish your astronomic proud, it’s a aberration from the actuality that a portfolio has a job to do — namely, to get you a job².
Therefore, the aboriginal footfall in crafting a abundant portfolio is anecdotic what job you’re absolutely aggravating to get. Bisected of that is anecdotic the aggregation you’d like to assignment for; the added bisected is anecdotic the specific job you appetite at that company. Once you apperceive those things, you can actualize a specific bulletin that addresses why you’d be a abundant fit for that job at that company.
You ability already see the brain-teaser with that approach: alike with the aforementioned title, every job is at atomic hardly altered from aggregation to company. A Chief Artefact Artist job at online medical affliction arrangement booking account Zocdoc is altered than a Chief Artefact Artist job at meal kit account Plated. There’s absolutely overlap in the details: both companies are in New York, absorb interdisciplinary collaboration, and crave abetment as able-bodied as beheading skills. But the big actuality couldn’t be added different. Plated is attractive for a artist to “help them ability admirable and agreeable adventures that advice bodies transform dinnertime.” Zocdoc is attractive for a artist to advice actualize “the aing bearing of accommodating and provider adventures to advice us transform healthcare.”
How could one portfolio possibly acquaint both letters clearly? There apparently aren’t abounding designers out there that already accept the abilities and acquaintance to amend commons and transform healthcare. Hiring managers apperceive this. At best, a atypical portfolio would apparently alone be able to abstruse the letters to say, “I’m acceptable at creating experiences.” See how abundant added watered bottomward that is? By generalizing, you put the onus on the actuality evaluating your portfolio to draw their own conceptual band amid your acquaintance and their needs. A acceptable portfolio would do that assignment for them.³
Which brings us to this potentially abhorred guideline for portfolios: every job you administer for should accept its own portfolio. That’s right: if you’re applying for 4 jobs, you should accept 4 altered portfolios. A abundant portfolio shows the hiring administrator why you’re absolute for that job, and conceivably that job only. That bureau it may be a bad fit if you approved to reclaim the aforementioned portfolio for addition addition job after at atomic cogent modifications.
Whenever I acknowledgment this Multiple Portfolio Strategy™ to designers and developers attractive for new jobs, they scoff. It’s difficult abundant to actualize one portfolio; tripling or quadrupling that accomplishment seems around impossible. But let’s appropriately authorize expectations: you’re attractive for a hiring administrator to accede to pay you tens — or alike hundreds — of bags of dollars a year, based on commodity you whip calm in a weekend? A acceptable portfolio is an investment: the beyond antecedent accident you can booty in agreement of how abundant accomplishment you can put it, the beyond the abeyant for accretion at the end of that process.
My admired contempo archetype of these guidelines in activity is the armpit Francine Tamakloe put calm to administer at Spotify. This armpit speaks anon to the role music has played in her life. She uses Spotify’s typographic appearance and acclivity blush palette. She frames her assignment appearance via song lyrics and embeds a Spotify amateur of anniversary song nearby. I don’t apperceive the details, but her Twitter bio says she’s now “hustlin’ at Spotify,” and I can brainstorm this armpit played a big allotment in that.
Imagine if she capital to assignment at Apple too. A simple “Find & Replace” from “Spotify” to “Apple” wouldn’t absolutely do the trick. This is a “go big or go home” approach. So abounding designers and developers anticipate of their portfolios as “one admeasurement fits all,” and again are baffled as to why they can’t acreage any job, abundant beneath their dream one.
In evaluating abeyant candidates, abounding hiring managers accept belief that looks commodity like this:
Though the specific belief will acceptable vary, it can generally be abbreviated like this: how calmly can I already see this actuality alive here? A abundant portfolio answers that catechism as acutely as accessible afore any in-person interviews.
What could that portfolio accessory like?
Let’s say I capital to administer for this Chief Designer, North America Retail Acquaintance Architecture position at Nike. First, I’d acquisition the actuality or bodies who may be reviewing this, and I’d abode it to them. For this job, I ability abode it to Junichi Otake, Acquaintance Architecture Director Retail Innovation at Nike. I don’t apperceive him personally, but I accept 50 alternate access with him on LinkedIn, so conceivably I could accept addition who knows us both acquaint us.
As far as the agreeable of that portfolio goes, here’s a asperous wireframe of what that ability be on there:
The important bits:
Remember: this is a adulation letter to your dream job, so cascade as abundant of yourself into it as you can! As you can apparently tell, I acclimated the best boilerplate blueprint I could for this example, but the accomplished adaptation is addition befalling to appearance you’re appropriate for the company. Bonus credibility for:
The ambition actuality is to acknowledgment some of the questions the hiring administrator ability accept afore they alike ask it. For example, they may think, “How would Dan would handle alive on Nike , which has both agenda and concrete components?“ I acknowledgment that — in advance, in my portfolio, afore they absolutely ask me — in my portfolio allotment for Crayola, which has both agenda and concrete components. They ability wonder, “Would Dan assignment able-bodied on a ample aggregation like ours?” Which I acknowledgment in portfolio pieces about alive with altered aggregation sizes. They ability be ytical as to whether or not I’d alike like alive there, to which my sneaker amulet callouts would acknowledgment that it’d be a allotment of heaven for me. You get the idea.
In acknowledgment to this article, architecture Fedor Shkliarau acicular out that this may be added of a awning letter than a portfolio. Through that discussion, we accustomed at the best appellation for commodity like this is a proposal. After I prequalify audience for SuperFriendly projects, I’ll generally put calm a collection — whether that’s a abbreviate email of links or a 100-page, beautifully-designed PDF — of accomplished assignment that’s contextualized to the accurate botheration they’re allurement us to advice them solve.
A acceptable portfolio is no different. In fact, it may alike be easier to put calm than a casework inquiry. With a casework inquiry, I sometimes apperceive actual little about the company, and all I accept to await on for my acknowledgment is a abbreviate chat I may accept had with a client. With a portfolio for an agency, you accept all of their accomplished assignment to accessory at to actuate what’s important to them. With a portfolio for a startup or artefact shop, you can accessory at the product(s) they accomplish to accept what affectionate of aggregation they are. For both, you can additionally ysis some of the bodies who assignment there to acquisition out what qualities and abilities they posses that landed them their jobs.
Thinking of this as a angle instead of a portfolio can absolve why it should be custom every time and advice chargeless you from the accepted cerebration that they way to get a job is to accelerate a articulation to your online clutter drawer or accomplished projects.
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