The recent waves of layoffs have brought about immense challenges, uncertainty, and emotional turmoil for many individuals and families. As we navigate through this storm together, it is crucial to remain proactive and committed to self-improvement.
One important step to secure future job prospects is to build a strong, diverse portfolio and proof of work that showcases your unique skills, experience, and talents.
I will share my thoughts and advice on good portfolios that can be applied to any field of knowledge work. Let’s begin.
🆔 Identify your skills
Before you go assembling your portfolio, it is a good idea to do a self-assessment of what your skills are. A personal SWOT analysis can help you in this regard. For those unaware, SWOT stands for:
- S - Strength
- W - Weakness
- O - Opportunities
- T - Threats
A good SWOT analysis clarifies the foundations for building your proof of work. For each of these, here are a few questions you can ask yourself.
- What is your core advantage that sets you apart from others? (Talk to a few of your peers and colleagues to clarify this.)
- Which of your achievements or projects are you most proud of?
Think of the strengths w.r.t the people around you. If you are a programmer, and can write well, that is your strength to stand out.
- Which tasks do you avoid because you are not so confident about them?
- What are your weaknesses, as told by your peers?
- Are there any negative work habits that are a hindrance to your performance?
Be ruthless here and face as many uncomfortable truths as possible.
- Which new technology or skill can help you do better in your role? (This is the one you must invest in learning.)
- What trends do you see in roles or fields, and how can you take advantage of them?
- How is your job changing because of the shifts outside? (funding winter, AI)
- Do any of your weaknesses expose you to threats?
🌐 Your ideal portfolio page
A mistake people make here is obsessing too much about the format of your portfolio, how and where to host it. Don’t spend too much time on this, and go for simple tools like Notion. Ship your basic version on Notion, and then if you have time, build a website etc. Think about what your prospective hiring manager cares about.
Now down to the portfolio, the more effort you put into the content (not design for v1), the more you will stand out. Think how many of the people who are applying have built a strong portfolio and put in the effort.
Personas who will visit your portfolio:
Recruiters: They will scan your portfolio and look for the highlights.
Hiring managers: They will go through your projects and work and would like to go in depth.
Sections of the portfolio you must include:
- Home - Contains a 2-liner description of yourself
- Testimonials - Feature 2-3 top testimonials from your managers or peers about your work.
- Projects - Must contain atleast 2 of your best projects explained clearly and in a deep manner.
- Resume - Either have a separate page or link to the latest version of resume (downloadable)
- Contact - A way for interested people to reach out to you.
You can put all of these on a single page or multiple pages with links on the home page.
📇 How to structure your portfolio projects?
This is the key part where most of your effort must go in. For the portfolio or the showcase project, add these sections describing your project:
- What problem are you solving, and why is it important to solve that problem?
- What is the main challenge and measure of success?
- What are the various steps you have taken to approach this problem statement?
- What worked and what did not work?
- What were the hurdles encountered and how did you overcome them?
- How many members worked (if team), and your contribution?
- If you were to do it again, how would you do it differently?
- What was the business impact of your initiative? (Try to show the numbers. If absolute can’t be shown, show the relative numbers at least.)
😇 Tips to showcase your portfolio
- If you are sure about the company you wish to apply to, have an additional project picking a problem you think the company is facing and your hypothetical solution. Ex: a product teardown, opportunities to expand business etc.
- Send a cover letter to your prospective hiring manager along with a message on Linkedin with a link to your portfolio and why you are interested in the job.
- Don’t try to include everything that you have worked on; showcase your best work.
- If you are applying for the first job or in transition to a new role, do detailed case studies that showcase your thinking and craft.
- If the work is proprietary, explain it in relative terms. Example: Worked for a leading fintech, improved conversions by 10% instead of 5% to 15%.
You don't have to be great to start, but you must start to be great. The expert in anything was once a beginner.
Tool of the Day
A tool to create a website directly from your notion page. You just paste your public notion link and in 10 seconds your live portfolio website will be ready. Some of the good and simple personal websites you can use for reference are here and here.