A beginner’s guide to building a successful portfolio

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June 22nd 2023

A beginner’s guide to building a successful portfolio

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Let’s be honest: the job hunt can be hard. But here’s a beginners tip for you, the best way to bag an interview is by creating a space where prospects can find you.

Position yourself ahead of the 426 other people hoping to be picked for that one role… by building a portfolio.

Think of it as an elevated “I’m not your regular applicant” resume. Now, how do you build a successful portfolio for all your future prospects? Here’s Parallel’s beginner’s guide...

“Why Do I Even Need A Portfolio? Shouldn’t My Resume Be Enough?”

Portfolios aren’t reserved for applicants in the art industry, or your local friendly freelancers – anyone in the physical labor line (hey landscapers and electricians!) can keep a portfolio up their sleeves to help bag the big guns.

So while you don't need a portfolio – you may be selling yourself short by skipping one. A well-curated portfolio is a reflection of your commitment to the game! It’s going to wow employers and send the message that you take your work seriously by going above and beyond for your passion. If you’re reading this – don’t limit yourself to a two-sided CV. They’re boring to write and boring to read.

“Okay But What Am I Supposed To Have In It?”

“Show the readers everything, tell them nothing.” Ernest Hemingway

Having an online portfolio of your work is the perfect answer to “Don’t tell me you love me, show me!” We’re sorry to say your ex was right: actions do speak louder than words. So, how can you show hiring managers why you’re the dream candidate for the role, and get them ditching the 426 other applicants?

  1. Home page → This is the first page visitors see – so set their expectations from the start! Think of it as your Table of Contents. Provide a brief (but engaging) intro, forefront your best pieces and display your brag-worthy testimonials.

  2. About page → This is your moment to shine! We’re talking a bio and backstory mixed with an overview of your experience, skills and education. More flexible in tone than the information you’d typically give on a CV – make sure to still cover the “need to know” info.

  3. Portfolio page → It goes without saying that this is the most important page on your portfolio. We recommend quality over quantity here. Carefully curate the work which best displays your talents and the work you want to continue to make. Got some case studies? Include them! These are an excellent method of demonstrating your ability to work on a project and reach the desired objectives.

  4. Testimonial page → Read the reviews on a hotel you are about to book for the night? Then you bet your future employer will want to read reviews on the candidate they’re about to ‘book’… for years. This is why it’s essential to gather letters of reference (or even just quotes!) from previous employers to demonstrate proof of experience and vouch for your character. Don’t have a previous employer? A letter from a teacher, or other upstanding member from your community can do the trick.

  5. Contact page → Don’t stumble on the last hurdle! Make it ridiculously easy for potential clients or employers to find you and reach out. Adding a simple contact page is a go-to. Include your email address, phone number (with country code), and social media handles – because they’ll be checking those anyway.

“Got It, Now Where Can I Create One?”

You’re in luck! There is a growing number of platforms that intentionally make it easy for you to create a portfolio without any coding or web designing experience. For one, Canva recently launched their ‘One-page Website’ templates where all you have to do is pluck in your own images and text and you are ready to publish your portfolio website with one click of a button.

Want to build your own website, so you can add that skillset to your CV too?! Hit up YouTube for tutorials on website builders like WordPressSquarespace or Wix – you’ll be a pro in no time!

WordPress and Wix both have a free plan, however you will bump into a hefty amount of limitations with that, so we suggest you take it up a notch with a paid plan …and if you really want to make an impact, consider purchasing a website template from Creative Market or Etsy. Typically, these templates also include their own installation tutorials and support from the creator to make sure you get it looking perfect.

“Okay, Now Where Do I Broadcast It?”

1 | Add it as a link on your social media accounts. Got multiple links to display here? Download an app like Milkshake (psst! It’s free) to house all your important links all in one place.

2 | Order business cards with all your information. Pro tip: instead of writing your website URL on the card, simply generate a QR code and have that direct scanners straight to your portfolio.

3 | Online job boards where you can create an account. Many job boards, like Contra and Parallel, allow you to upload your portfolio along with your resume and cover letter, making it easier for potential employers get an idea of you and your skillset.

4 | Add it on your LinkedIn account. First off, make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date because that is the hangout spot for hiring managers. Feel like it’s too ‘cringe’ for you? Don’t play yourself, use this as an opportunity to flex you skills and be discovered by your dream employer.

5 | Include it on your resumé and cover letter. Make sure to save your resumé and cover letter as a PDF so that you can add your portfolio link and increase your chances of getting called.

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Building your portfolio is key to standing out from the job seeker pool – thus increasing your chances of being hired and ultimately setting yourself up for success. 

So go ahead and flex about your skills and expertise, provide evidence of your accomplishments, and demonstrate your commitment to your field in style! The only thing you have to worry about now is what to wear to your interview – and insider tip: ditch the crocs.

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