How to create a professional portfolio

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

– Maya Angelou

A portfolio is more than just a collection of your work. For creatives and non-creatives alike, a portfolio is a calling card to the outside world. It’s a way for you to showcase your abilities while sharing your story.

Portfolios can be used to help boost your personal brand, share your skill set, increase your digital visibility, and most importantly attract potential clients.

Creating a portfolio that stands out while quickly and clearly sharing your expertise and value with visitors is important. First impressions count no matter what industry you’re in, it’s not only designers and creatives that get to create amazing portfolios.

Even if you work in a non-creative role, thinking outside the box can help you represent your work visually and take advantage of the way people process information.

So, what elements make up a well thought out and professional portfolio?

You & Your Work

You want to create a portfolio that shows off who you are and what you’re offering. Help clients understand what it’s like to work with you by introducing yourself, sharing your experience, personality, and background.

The work you decide to include in your portfolio has to be the right mixture of ingredients to shine. Include your best (or most successful projects, quality over quantity), and content that targets your ideal client (keep to your niche or where you want to be).

Don’t limit yourself to work projects alone, include personal projects or mock-ups. Having a mixture of content lets you showcase your skill and creativity, something all clients are looking for. 

Showcasing you and your work together is all part of building your personal brand.

Simplicity (Design and Navigation)

When it comes to portfolios ‘less is more’ really is the best. Keeping the design and layout of your portfolio clean and simple to use is important in creating a good first impression.

Categorizing (or filtering) your work makes your portfolio easier to navigate and informs clients of the different skills or areas of expertise you have. Make yourself accessible so clients know how to best contact you.  

Awards and Accomplishments

Including social proof or your track record in the portfolio helps build credibility and trustworthiness in your personal brand.

Share client testimonials, awards, and certificates. Let people know how good you really are.

Keep evolving

A portfolio is an evolving collection of your work and professional career. Search engines are always looking for fresh content and clients want to see up to date styles.

Update and change your portfolio as you grow, your goals change and your work evolves.

Creating a portfolio is an effective way to highlight your uniqueness in a sea of competition, it helps potential clients understand more about you, your style, abilities, and accomplishments.

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Making The Most Of LinkedIn

The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.

Jimmy Johnson

Some parts of the job search are the same as they’ve always been – like your resume and cover letter. But technological advances have led to some marked changes in how we make ourselves stand out as job candidates.

One of these big changes is the digital portfolio. Rather than bringing a paper folder to an interview, applicants can make an impression on hiring managers as soon as they apply. By attaching a link to an email, they can share a summary of their work digitally – allowing hiring managers to make quicker decisions on who to invite back for an interview.

But equally important, these days, is having a strong LinkedIn profile. As the world’s largest professional networking site, LinkedIn has secured its status as the place to be for job searchers, recruiters, and hiring managers alike. According to Hootsuite, 30 million companies have profiles on LinkedIn. And despite a stagnant number of new users on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn continues to grow year over year – with two professionals signing up for LinkedIn every second.

So, why is it so popular?

Essentially, a LinkedIn profile is like an interactive resume. It’s not limited to one or two physical sheets of paper, so you can add more detail. (My LinkedIn profile includes some of my less-relevant jobs – like when I was a waitress in college, though that definitely doesn’t make the cut on my official resume.) When you list a company as your employer, it becomes a live, codified link that is clickable for anyone seeking more information. And like a digital portfolio, you can upload samples of your work or important projects and display them on your profile as well.

If you’re looking for a job, LinkedIn is a good place to start. Three million jobs are posted on LinkedIn every month. Some of them, you can apply directly through LinkedIn with the click of a button. And not only will LinkedIn recommend jobs you may be interested in, but you can also utilize your network to help make connections within your desired companies.

Even if you’re not a job seeker, it’s a good way to stay in touch with industry trends and others in your network. You can join any number of specialty groups based on your profession or interests, which may even lead to new opportunities. Additionally, LinkedIn hosts its own blog publishing platform, allowing any user to blog about any topic they wish. You never know how far that post could reach!

At Brieffin, we want to help you take your professional image to the next level.

Whether you’re looking for website development, personal branding, resume design and writing, or even spicing up your LinkedIn profile, we’re here. For you.

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Resume Writing Best Practices

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Susan Jeffers

Ask anyone what the most important asset to the job search is, and most would say one answer: the resume. This short document summarizes the applicant’s skills, experience, background, qualifications, and education to a hiring manager. It also includes important contact information which is used to contact the applicant.

In the sea of job applications received for any given position, your resume is an opportunity to set yourself apart from the others.

You may have heard the oft-quoted statistic that hiring managers only spend six seconds looking at each resume. However, newer studies suggest that only 17% of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds, while 68% spend less than 2 minutes reviewing each resume. Nevertheless, your time to make an impact is limited, so it’s important to ensure your resume establishes yourself as a strong candidate in a timely manner.

When it comes to writing your resume, standard advice has changed over the years. No longer are the templated, rigid resumes suggested for every position in every industry. As multimedia portfolios and LinkedIn profiles have entered the mix, it’s easier for a prospective employer to get a holistic look at any given job applicant through more mediums than just the resume.

However, resumes continue to be a crucial aspect of any job application, and here are several tips to keep in mind when writing yours.

Keep it short and sweet

In general, resumes are suggested to be no more than one page long. Remember – most hiring managers are spending less than 2 minutes reading your resume. If it’s too long, they might not even make it to the second page. Being able to condense all your information into one page also shows that you’re able to make decisions about hierarchy of information importance.

There may be some exceptions – if you are applying to a very high-level job and have many years of relevant experience, two pages may be more acceptable. But in general, one page is considered to be best practice across most industries.

Decide what’s really important

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point, but on the flip side as well. Don’t include everything that’s ever happened to you, even if it keeps your resume under one page. For example, I used to be a waitress at the American pancake restaurant IHOP. While I value the experience gained and lessons learned, it’s not very relevant to the positions I’m interested in at this point in my life. However, if I ever find myself interested in the food service industry again, it might be something I would include. Be discerning about your experience and the desired position.

Show the numbers

Any time you can discuss results you achieved in your previous positions, it speaks to your previous success and suggests what you can contribute to your new company. Any time you can include numbers, statistics, or facts, it quantifies those achievements. Instead of generic statements, include specifics such as these: “Closed support queue tickets within target timeframe 100% of the time,” or “Implemented new travel management tracking software, saving $15,000 in overhead costs during initial 6 months.”

Fit the industry

When you’re applying for a creative role, such as an art director or copywriter, it’s generally acceptable to let your resume show a bit of personality. Using strategic pops of color or infographics would not seem out of place; in fact, it might be an advantage for the hiring manager to see how your creativity fits in with the company. However, if you’re applying for a more corporate job, it’s probably a better idea to use a very structured, buttoned-up format for your resume. You don’t want to stand out in a bad way!

Proofread

Just like we mentioned in a previous article about cover letters, it’s of the utmost importance to proofread. There’s nothing worse than sending off your resume – which you’ve worked so hard on, and are so proud of – to your dream job… and then finding a typo or grammatical error afterward.

There’s really no way to undo it, and all you can do is hope that the hiring manager doesn’t notice it. But the unfortunate reality is that many are looking for any reason to disqualify an applicant from the application pool, and spelling errors are an easy way to narrow it down. After finishing your resume, come back to it the next day with a fresh set of eyes. Have a friend or family member read it, too.

Include contact information

You should always include your first and last name on your resume – of course – because how else will they know it’s yours? You should also include your phone number with area code (and country code if applicable), full mailing address, and email address.

Many employers will make initial contact via email, so you want to make sure you have a “professional” email listed. If your everyday email is something like dance_gurl12345@gmail.com, you might think about using a different email address. Better yet, use an email provider like Gmail to create a brand new, professional email address. Ideally, it should be some variation of your name with minimal numbers.

Format appropriately

You want your resume to be visually appealing and organized in a sensible way. It should flow well from top to bottom. However, that’s not the only formatting you should think about. When including your resume file to attach to an online job application or email, you’ll want to make sure you’ve saved in an appropriate, efficient manner as well.

Saving your resume as a .PDF is a great way to make sure you don’t lost the integrity of the document when your file is being viewed on different computers or operating systems. Additionally, make sure you give the file a professional name, because the hiring manager will see it. John_Smith_Resume.pdf is a good example.

Resumes can be a complicated topic, but these tips should help to put you on the right track! Remember, at Brieffin we specialize in professional resume and portfolio design, so reach out to us if you need a hand getting started.

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