All killer no filler: Build a standout portfolio

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Interviews can be frustrating. You may know that you’re capable of bringing real value to an advertised role or company — but you need to somehow convey all of your experience, talent, and ambition in a single short conversation… while also dealing with the unwelcome onset of jangling nerves.

Our solution? Let your portfolio do the talking for you.

How to put together a standout portfolio

Be visual

A portfolio is essentially a visual CV (although it doesn’t replace a CV — it complements). By putting together a concise and considered selection of all your best and most beautiful work, an employer can get a comprehensive view of your career so far in a few short glances. Don’t choose visual work at the expense of success or quality, but do consider how your portfolio looks (especially if you’re going for a design or comms-based role).

Toot your own horn

You have one chance to really impress your interviewer. Use it! While arrogance is never a good look, be proud of yourself and your achievements, and include short summaries and overviews of your projects that explain how successful your prior projects have been. Were they especially engaging? Did you receive compliments from clients, or awards at work? This can all be listed on your CV, but can also accompany portfolio clippings.

All killer no filler

Don’t include everything to fill space. Choose your highlights, and put the best stuff first. There’s no need to arrange your portfolio clips by date; to make the biggest impact, begin with the work you really want your interviewer to see. Don’t include work that’s sub-par or from early-career internships if you’re not proud of it; even if you end up with a short portfolio of only a few pages, only include killer content — no filler.

Credit: Flickr user Jodimichelle.


Keep it up to date

There’s nothing worse than securing an interview for the following day… and realising that your CV and portfolio aren’t ready to go. Make it part of your career admin to keep both up to date every month, even if you’re not actively job hunting. This also reduces the likelihood of you missing out work and projects — or forgetting key elements of what you actually did and achieved — and keeps interviews as stress-free as possible.

Think digital

While this especially relevant for anyone applying for an online or digital role, this is something that everyone should do as the world becomes increasingly digital. Keep copies of your portfolio both on your computer and in paper (this has the added bonus of making your work easy to access from anywhere, should you ever need to do so). If you’re willing to display it online too, that’s even better! Maintain your social channels, optimise your portfolio so that search engines can find it easily, and consider buying your own personal domain name rather than using a free host. In other words: think digital, and act accordingly.

We could go on forever about the value of a well-curated, up-to-date, role-specific portfolio… but we’d love to know what you think. Is there anything we’ve forgotten? Let us know in the comments!