Building a Dynamite Portfolio: How to Present Your Work So It Shines

By: Georgia Schumacher Filed under: Gaming & Technology

February 23, 2015

person working on portfolio

When it comes to creative job opportunities, a resume will only get you so far. Employers need to see examples of your work to ensure you have what it takes to make it in their organizations, and a strong portfolio is your chance to put your best work forward.

At The Art Institutes, we can work with you while you’re still in school to create a portfolio that showcases your talents. By the time you graduate, we’ll make sure you’ve had an opportunity to create a portfolio that has been reviewed by faculty, potential employers, peers, and alumni who want to help you succeed.

To make yourself stand out, here are a few rules we recommend you follow.

Rule 1: Have Both a Print and Online Portfolio

Do you have both an online and a print portfolio? If not, you may be selling yourself short. An online portfolio hosted on sites like Behance or Wix is a great way to create a first impression with potential employers! Include the link to your portfolio in job applications to put your talents on display and show hiring managers what you’re capable of creating.

After you’ve caught the eye of a company, you’ll need to take it up a notch by bringing a book portfolio to the interview. Rather than showcasing the general scope of your talents, your book portfolio should focus on your work that’s most relevant to the job. This is your chance to show the hiring manager you have the skills and experience needed to excel at the position. “Employers want to see how your designs translate to their business needs or clientele,” explains Amy Lee, a Regional Vice President - Career Services Specialist at The Art Institutes.

Rule 2: Share a Range of Work

It’s not easy to sway a hiring manager with a barely-there portfolio. If you’re multi-talented, including examples of all of your skills can increase your chances of finding work. For example, if you’re a photographer who’s also a skilled illustrator, include a few samples of the latter in your portfolio as well.

Your years of experience will influence the number of pieces you include in a portfolio, but don’t limit what you share online. Instead, arrange your online portfolio so potential employers can easily see the diverse areas in which you have experience while also quickly finding the work they most want to see.

Rule 3: Don’t Let it Get Stale 

Your portfolio requires your constant attention. “Just as your resume is a living document, so is your portfolio. Images and content should be evolving and fresh,” says Lee.

Frequently update your portfolio with your latest work to show the great things you’re doing on a daily basis. Hiring managers don’t just want to know you’ve done great work in the past — they need to see you’ve still got it.

Rule 4: Provide Context and Organization

Make it clear that you know how to interpret a creative brief by including a short explanation of why the piece was created and its intended purpose. Detail how you went about satisfying the client’s needs. Because hiring managers may ask you about specific works, make each piece easy to identify by including project titles and page numbers throughout your portfolio. A table of contents is often a good idea as well!

Another tip on organization? “Be sure to start and end your book or online presence with strong pieces. These pieces should be something about which you’re passionate and can explain the design process from start to finish,” says Lee.

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By: Georgia Schumacher Filed under: Gaming & Technology

February 23, 2015

careers lists portfolio tips