Recently, Jimmy Kimmel sent a camera crew to a popular exercise spot in Los Angeles and asked people to define gluten. Although they were able to tell the crew what foods they should avoid eating in order to live a gluten-free lifestyle, none of the people featured in the video were able to tell the crew exactly what gluten is.
So, how does this relate to finding a job? Portfolios are like gluten—a word that a lot of us throw around without knowing too much about it. Unlike gluten, you probably don’t need to Google the definition of a professional portfolio. But just in case you need a concise definition: A portfolio is a collection of pieces that provide viewers examples showcasing your experience, expertise, and talents within your field. But like gluten, do you know how they work? Unfortunately, tossing together some quality work that you’ve already done into one file just doesn’t cut it, especially with all competition in this creative industry.
Here is how to ensure that your portfolio is working for you.
Make It Interactive
It’s highly unlikely that you’ll be restricted to a hard-copy portfolio. This is exciting because it allows for a true user experience, which can be taken to many levels in the creative field. But keep the level of interactivity appropriate to your field within the industry. For example, while it may be pleasantly memorable for a walking, talking cartoon character to greet viewers upon opening a digital animator’s portfolio, the same character would probably confuse the viewers of a film researcher’s portfolio.
Include Your Resume
This seems like a no-brainer, but this is something that has been left out of a lot of portfolios I have seen. Your portfolio should be a one-stop-shop for everything your viewer needs to get an idea of what you’re all about before giving you a call. While your examples showcase a lot of talent that a resume cannot, a resume also showcases a lot of experience that examples cannot. Your resume doesn’t need to be its own stand-alone page on your site, but your “About Me” page should at least have a downloadable link.
Make Your Call to Action Clear
Don’t assume that your viewer knows what you want them to do after viewing your portfolio. Obviously they know you want a job if you’ve submitted it with a job application, but imagine your portfolio landing in someone else’s hands. Are you selling your work? Are you available for freelance projects? Are you looking for a full-time job? Make the purpose of your portfolio clear, and then tell your viewers very directly what to do; for example, you can have a link to email you for a quote or contact you for more information on purchasing your work. You will not only clear the confusion for people unfamiliar with your career search, but you’ll also show that you’re able to appropriately provide clear instructions.
Update, Update, Update!
This is something I admit I can be guilty of at times. We all know that life gets busy, but set aside the time to add new work and update outdated information as often as possible. Portfolios aren’t a one-and-done thing and require maintenance in order to ensure you are getting the most out of them as you can. When someone sees your work, you’ll want it to be as “fresh off the press” as possible.
Now, I’m doing marketing at a film production company for their upcoming documentary. The team is small and everyone wears many hats, which is an ideal situation to be in when you want to experience as much as possible! I’m also freelancing in various media platforms, and every day I’m learning something new about how to stand out from the crowd in this fast-paced industry. I’m excited to share what I learn through The Media Chronicles!