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Just like how arguments are more persuasive with supporting evidence, resumes and job applications are also more appealing with portfolios.
But some may ask, what is a portfolio?
By definition, a portfolio is a document of various materials compiled, that showcases both your personal and professional skills, qualifications, as well as education and work experiences.
Traditionally, a job applicant could present a physical copy of their own work portfolio to the recruiter. However, as we grow to be more and more dependent on technology, online portfolios have become the more common method of presentation.
What sets an online portfolio apart from the conventional printed portfolio is that the collection of your works can be accessed on the web. Think of it as a personal webpage. An online portfolio could be used as a way to show and not just tell your potential employers about your skills.
By using a portfolio, you can demonstrate and show the evidence of the skills you have written on your resume. Having an online portfolio of your various skills and previous works could help you stand out among other applicants during a job search.
What is an online portfolio?
An online portfolio (or also known as digital portfolio) is a document which summarizes your qualifications and is presented online on a digital portfolio website. Online portfolios are more advanced in a way, as they are able to present a wider variety of contents compared to paper portfolios.
Videos, audios and links to other sites or resumes could be included in an online portfolio; a feature not available if you choose to go for paper portfolios. Online portfolios are also just a link-click away from anyone all over the world, hence allowing your works to gain exposure more easily.
In the field of finance, the term portfolio (or also known as investment portfolio) is used to describe one’s collection of financial investment products such as stocks, bonds, commodities and other assets like real estate or art.
The main purpose of an online portfolio is to showcase yourself - your skills, experiences, passion and potential - in a compelling, creative, interesting and convenient way. Having a professional portfolio increases your credibility, as it allows employers to see the evidence of what you tell them on your resume or during your interview.
Showing your works through a professional portfolio also allows potential employers and/or potential clients to imagine what it would be like to work with you, which could be more intriguing and persuasive than just words.
Personal Portfolio vs. Professional Portfolio
An important point to consider before you start to create your online portfolio is which kind of portfolio you are going to make. Generally, based on the style and formality degree, portfolios can be classified into two general categories: personal portfolio and professional portfolio.
Simply put, a personal portfolio is made for the main purpose of personal branding and self-promotion. The style of this portfolio can be more casual, as it is meant to show your personality through the aesthetics and word choices of the portfolio. The works that you would include in your personal portfolio would also be the ones that portray you the best.
Meanwhile, a professional portfolio would be catered to an audience who requires you to be more formal, and they should be more persuasive than a personal portfolio because you want your professional portfolio to help increase your chances of getting hired. A professional portfolio should be tailored to the requirements of the job position that you are applying for. This is important because not all of your work can be relevant to every job, and you want to include only the ones that can help you shine more.
Check out these Online Portfolio Examples!
Who needs an online portfolio?
Everyone, no matter in which career field or for what purpose, can benefit from having a personal online portfolio.
If you work in the creative industry, such as arts, interior design, architecture, graphic design, photography or videography and writing, having a career portfolio is essential. Writers, teachers, models and other professions that rely on visuals also require a portfolio for job search and also personal branding purposes. Employers and potential clients view your work portfolio to know your background, experiences and how well you did in those previous experiences.
If you are applying for college or scholarships, your online portfolio can become a tool to promote yourself. If all the conditions previously mentioned do not apply to you, keeping a career portfolio can still serve as an archive for all your accomplishments. This will come in handy when it is time to go for a promotion or for unexpected situations like change of jobs, as compiling all the data into a nice portfolio design might take quite a while.
How to build a professional work portfolio
Your work portfolio is your tool to impress employers, so you want to make sure that your portfolio helps you shine and not the other way around. There are many factors to consider when creating your very own professional portfolio, such as what materials to include in the portfolio, the portfolio design, as well as what and how much text to include in your portfolio. But worry not, as it can be easier than you imagine it to be. Follow these 5 steps to create your own great online professional portfolio:
Step 1. Gather your portfolio ideas
It is important for your online portfolio to be aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-read, so that it catches the eye of your audience and can look through it with ease. You could check out some online portfolio examples created by CakeResume users or see countless of different portfolio ideas with a simple search on Google to find a good reference when creating your own online portfolio.
Maintaining a consistent font style and color palette throughout your portfolio design makes your digital portfolio more pleasant to the eyes. Creating a mood board is a great way to systematically gather ideas for these elements (the theme, fonts and color).
Step 2. Choose a design that best suits your style and needs
The attractiveness of your online portfolio design plays a big role in improving the quality of your portfolio. Nobody wants to look at an ugly, crowded and disorganized document, with hard to read fonts and incomprehensive text.
Different kinds of portfolios may need different kinds of design layout to deliver the contents in the best way possible. Make sure to find a layout design that can present your work best.
Step 3. Find a suitable channel/platform to create your online portfolio
Creating an easy-to-read, eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing yet professional portfolio can be daunting and tricky. Thankfully, many online portfolio websites offer tools that are easy to navigate, allowing portfolio-making to become easy and accessible to anyone from all backgrounds. Check out these great online portfolio maker platforms:
CakeResume is a free online portfolio website which also provides a resume builder tool. In CakeResume, you will be able to link your online portfolio to your digital resume, and easily include them to your job application with a link. This makes it suitable for not only creative professionals, but also other professionals who would like to strengthen job application with a digital portfolio.
The free online portfolio maker in CakeResume allows users to create multiple portfolios under their profile, allowing them to organize and highlight different projects in a way that is most efficient and convenient for viewing.
🔑 Key features:
- Tools include: Single image, image grid, text, embed links, HUD background color picker, spacing between contents
- Option for portfolio to be linked to digital resume for convenient job application
- One user can create multiple portfolios
- FREE for registered users
Behance is a free portfolio website where creators can showcase and discover other creative works done by other creators. On Behance, users’ works which are made public will appear on the homepage of the website, allowing all website visitors and the online portfolio link visitors to view the works.
🔑 Key features:
- Tools include: Single image, photo grid, text, video/audio file, HUD background color picker, import images from Adobe Lightroom
- One user can create multiple portfolios
- FREE for registered users
Dribbble is a social networking platform that is often used as a design portfolio platform by digital designers & artists. Dribble allows users to showcase ready-made works in 4:3 size ratio by uploading the single image onto the platform as postings called “Shots”. On a user profile page, the shots are displayed as thumbnails, and viewers could click on the thumbnail to enlarge the image and view any descriptions provided by the creator.
🔑 Key features:
- Use of social media-style profile page as an online portfolio page
- Allows single images upload
Step 4. Showcase your best work/projects
It is important to use a moderate amount of material. You do not want to include unnecessary materials, but you also want to show potential employers what you have got.
For most online portfolio making websites, the most basic action for you to do would be to upload the relevant files onto the platform. The next step is to lay out the files so that they are convenient to view. Sometimes, aside from visual aids, some text descriptions would be necessary as well. It helps the readers better understand the ideas and process behind your creations.
Take a look at these DOs & DON’Ts when compiling the materials for your professional portfolio:
- Put only relevant and useful material that can help highlight your skills and show off your best works to impress your potential employer/client.
- Be concise, but make sure your audience gets an insight into your thought process. Some things you can include: date of project, project brief & concept introduction, project goals, clients & credits.
- Put too many/ALL of your materials, making your portfolio design layout too crowded and hard to read.
- Write a whole analytical report. It messes with your portfolio layout and nobody has the time to read all of them anyway. Let’s be honest, pictures sometimes do speak louder than words.
Step 5. Maintain your portfolio
After creating your online portfolio, the last thing you want to do is abandon it. Just like a resume, a portfolio needs to be continually updated. Online portfolios are not a one-time-use document — they remain on the Internet (unless you take them down, of course), and they can be viewed over and over again, even if you are not actively applying for jobs. As time goes by, your biodata changes, you work on new projects and achieve new milestones. Make sure to continually update your online portfolio so that it represents your most recent self.
What to include in an online portfolio (+ tips for 15 different portfolios)
Perhaps the longest, most dreadful and most complicated part of putting together an online portfolio is deciding what to include in your portfolio. You definitely do not want to include too much, but then how much is enough? Take a look below for tips on what to include in an online portfolio, according to portfolio types and professions.
- What to include in a career portfolio
- What to include in an interview portfolio
- What to include in a graphic design portfolio
- What to include in a UI/UX designer
- What to include in a teaching portfolio
- What to include in an art portfolio
- What to include in a marketing portfolio
- What to include in a writing portfolio
- What to include in a nursing portfolio
- What to include in a photography portfolio
- What to include in an architecture portfolio
- What to include in a model portfolio
- What to include in a web developer portfolio
- What to include in an acting portfolio
- What to include in a freelancer portfolio
1. Career Portfolio
A career portfolio can be useful during job search. It includes anything that is relevant to your profession, that can emphasize your experiences, skills, eagerness, potential and personality to your potential employers. You can think of it as a documentation of your career journey and growth.
As there are so many aspects to your career, you might not know where to start and how to make a career portfolio concise yet efficient. Check out these points below to know what to include in a career portfolio:
2. Interview Portfolio
An interview portfolio is a secret weapon to help boost your confidence and make a great impression during your interview. Technically, an interview portfolio is a compilation of the supporting evidence or artifacts that can show that the stuff you wrote on your resume are real, and that you did them well.
These are some materials to help you consider what to include in a portfolio for an interview:
3. Graphic Design Portfolio
To land a position, get hired by a client or get into graphic design degree programs, a graphic design portfolio is always required. Even though you have not had any paid work experience, there are still many materials that you can incorporate into your graphic design portfolio. Take a look at these tips on how to make a graphic design portfolio and what to include in a graphic design portfolio:
You could also check out these Graphic Design Portfolio Examples.
4. UI/UX Design Portfolio
Although UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) are very closely related in their work, both are separate fields and require different portfolios. Both would require a UI designer portfolio or a UX designer portfolio for job for client search and also personal branding. Though, compared to other design fields, a UX designer portfolio should include slightly different components, such as a brief explanation of the case study and work process of the projects that are introduced in the UX design portfolio.
Check out these tips of what to include in a UI/UX designer portfolio:
Or, you could also check out these UX Portfolio Examples.
5. Teaching Portfolio
Unless your recruiters are your students, it must be quite a challenge for recruiters to know and understand your teaching skills. It should be equally difficult for you to show your skills to the recruiters prior to a teaching demo. This is why teaching professionals should use a teaching portfolio to give recruiters a glimpse into your techniques and methods during the application process.
Check out the list below to know what to include in a teaching portfolio:
6. Art Portfolio
Art is a broad field with countless mediums, so different artists require different kinds of portfolios. A digital artist requires a digital art portfolio, a 3D artist requires a 3D artist portfolio, and so on.
Take a look down below for tips on how to make an art portfolio and what to include in an art portfolio.
Photos of non-photograph artworks (i.e. paintings, sculptures) should be taken clearly and from different angles, but only include the good and important sides.
Additionally, you could check out these Artist Portfolio Examples.
7. Marketing Portfolio
Consider including these things in your marketing portfolio:
Whether you work in traditional marketing, digital marketing, social media marketing or any field of marketing, having a marketing portfolio is a great tool to promote your achievements and skills. If you are a digital marketer, using a digital marketing portfolio is a great method to showcase your digital skills as well.
Check out these Marketing Portfolio Examples.
8. Writing Portfolio
For writers, the best way to show prospective employers your skills is by showing them your previous works. This is why a writing portfolio is very important for all writers, be it journalists, copywriters, students or aspiring writers and even bloggers. As the term “portfolio” is normally associated with graphics and visuals, many writers might not realize that the profession requires one as well.
Take a look down below to know what to include in a writing/copywriting portfolio:
You can classify your writings into categories such as by writing type, topic or time created, making it easier for the recruiter to find the most relevant writing work that interests them.
9. Nursing Portfolio
Newbies and experienced nurses alike require a nursing portfolio during a job search. It allows future employers to confirm the credentials you wrote on your resume or in other words, increases your credibility.
If you are not sure about what to include in a nursing portfolio, consider these materials that can help you stand out:
10. Photography Portfolio
An online photography portfolio is a simple and quick way to share your photography works to potential clients. Aside from your photographs, of course there are a few other important elements to include to make your portfolio more effective in attracting clients.
Check out these important tips components to know how to make a photography portfolio and know what to include in a photography portfolio:
You could also take a look at these Photography Portfolio Examples.
11. Architecture Portfolio/Interior Design Portfolio
Impressing potential employers with your portfolio does not only require great architecture skills. What is more important is to present those skills well with an engaging architecture portfolio. Having a great architecture portfolio shows employers that besides having great skills, you could also communicate your thoughts well, which is an important skill to have in any work field.
Take a look at the points listed below to know how to make an architecture portfolio:
Use consistent layout, grid, font and color pallete, as they should not distract the attention from your actual works.
12. Model Portfolio
To land gigs or get signed by a modeling agency, models rely on portfolios. This is to show recruiters and agencies what works you have done, your versatility and the different looks you can pull off.
Take a look below to get an idea on how to make a modeling portfolio and what items to include in your model portfolio:
13. Web Developer Portfolio
Web developers can use various methods to showcase their works on an online platform. For a front end developer portfolio, introductions of the works can be compiled and presented in a single page online portfolio. On the other hand, programmer portfolios could utilize platforms like Github or a personal webpage to showcase their skills. Here are some other materials to consider putting into a web developer portfolio:
14. Acting Portfolio
When working as an actor, having an acting portfolio is pretty much a requirement. An acting portfolio allows you to show your abilities and diversity. No matter if you have zero experience or have worked in various works before, consider these elements to include into your professional acting portfolio:
15. Freelancer Portfolio
An online portfolio is an essential document for all freelancers. Does not matter if you are a writer (creative, content or copywriter), designer (graphic, interior design, UI/UX), illustrator, content marketer, web designer or developer, you will need a portfolio to persuade your potential clients to work with you.
Here are a few things that you can include into your freelancer portfolio:
What is an online portfolio?
An online portfolio is a compilation of artifacts of any kind from your previous works and can exemplify your skills and qualifications for the purposes of personal-branding, job hunt or even personal record.
Why is having an online portfolio important?
- During a job application, having an online portfolio increases an applicant’s credibility and makes resumes more powerful with backing evidence, hence increasing chances of hiring. Keeping an online portfolio helps you keep track of your achievements, skills and milestones.
- Outside of a job application, online portfolios can also be useful when negotiating a promotion at work.
- For freelancers, a portfolio showing previous projects and works helps in increasing potential clients’ trust and confidence in your works.
How to make an online portfolio?
- Step 1. Gather your portfolio ideas
- Step 2. Choose a design that best suits your style and need
- Step 3. Find a suitable channel/platform to create your online portfolio
- Step 4. Showcase your best work/projects
- Step 5. Maintain your portfolio
What to include in a career portfolio?
The key is to tailor your portfolio content to the job application requirements and to include only works that you feel confident of, and are relevant to the job. The key to narrowing down the materials to include in your portfolio could differ depending on your profession and the kind of portfolio that you wish to create.
Now that you know the steps and what to include in your own professional online portfolio, the last thing left to do is to START creating your very own professional online portfolio. Showcase your great works in a great portfolio, and you will surely be on the right track to achieving your dream career.
✨ Good luck! ✨
Create your very own, unique and outstanding online portfolio! 💪🏼