Join Lauren Bacon for an in-depth discussion in this video Identifying what employers are looking for, part of Planning a Web Design Portfolio: Getting a Job.
- However well planned your job search is and no matter how much time you spend preparing for interviews, your design portfolio is the cornerstone of your quest for a great design job. It's the primary evidence you can present to convince people that you know what you're doing and that's often the deciding factor for perspective employers. So one of the most critical things you can do to improve your job prospects is to make your portfolio as polished and well thought through as possible. Now as with any design project the first thing you'll want to do in designing your portfolio is to put yourself in the mind of your audience, of course this is usually easier to do for other people than it is do to for yourself as we tend to have a better perspective on our clients offerings and audience than we do on our own.
So remember employers have to review dozens of portfolios every time they post a position for a designer and while you as a designer may naturally want to focus on the visual presentation of your portfolio, there are five things an employer wants to see before they make a decision to hire you. And only a couple of them have anything to do with the visual aspect of your work so put aside any assumptions you might have on that front. It's not just about how pretty your projects look, you need to demonstrate some substance to create enough trust to convince someone to hand you a job.
I'm going to walk you through each of these five key things in depth but here's a quick overview. Personality, they want to know what you bring to the table, quirks and all. Employers are assessing what you'd be like to work with, how you're likely to get along with the rest of the team and how well you'll represent their company. So what's memorable about you, let that shine through and you'll find your ideal position a lot faster. Design thinking, your perspective employers probably care less about kerning and color pallets than you do, what they care about is your process and the results you achieve.
So spell out for them how you've solved problems on past projects. Range, employers want to know that whatever you design for them and their customers is going to look different from everything else in your portfolio so you need to show them some range in order to demonstrate your capacity to give each client something fresh. Technical skills, they're concerned with matching the right person to the right position and a big part of that involves assessing your skill level. Make it easy for them to evaluate that and you'll stand out for the right reasons.
And finally, depth of experience, no matter how skilled you are there are significant differences between a veteran designer who spent 10 years working in agencies versus a designer who's fresh out of school. Clearly communicating your experience level helps employers put you in an environment where you'll thrive. So that's the high level check list, but how do you do all of that with a portfolio? We'll dig into that shortly.
- Conveying your personality through your portfolio
- Highlighting your problem-solving skills
- Demonstrating range
- Conveying your skill level
- Avoiding pitfalls