How to Build a Portfolio

  • Use Industry Standard Portfolio Websites: Although it might be tempting to create your own site, and we certainly wouldn’t dissuade anyone from doing that as well, using an industry standard site is a must. Although affordable web building services have made creating your own corner of the internet more accessible than ever, this shouldn’t be your primary portfolio. Hiring managers know exactly where to find what they’re looking for on sites such as Artstation, Behance, GitHub and Itch.io. You don’t want to frustrate the person looking to hire you by pointing them at a location that isn’t intuitive to navigate around. They won’t go digging for what they’re looking for, regardless of how good your work is, they’ll just give up.

  • Don’t be Afraid to Showcase Older Work: If you’re a Programmer or an Artist, showing off older work (as long as that is made clear) can be a perfect way for employers to see your progression as a person. They can see, at a glance, how quick you are to learn new practises. This can give them a gauge of how easy you’ll be to teach and how quickly you’ll adapt to new software within a studio environment. Personal growth and development are fantastic to have evidence of. No one wants to see that you’ve plateaued, or that you’re content to stay at the same level. Avoid showcasing work-in-progress. Although you might be excited to draw attention to your latest thing, a collection of half-finished pieces will work against you. A hiring manager might start to question why you don’t see a project through to completion. Do you get bored? Can they afford to have someone like that in their team? 

  • Subfolders Are Your Friend: A long list of projects can be intimidating, and a hiring manager might not know where to start. Their time is limited. If it looks more time-consuming than is going to be worthwhile, your best work might not get seen. Make sure to separate your projects into subfolders or easy to distinguish individual pages. If you’ve made a game, make sure everything relating to that has its own place on your portfolio. If you’re a generalist artist, make sure art relating to environments, characters, vehicles, weapons, and concepts are segregated. 

  • Explain How You Made Things: Just like on your CV, don’t assume people will know how you’ve done what you’ve done. No one knows your skill set as well as you. Have a short write up for each project, explaining how you made it, what technical skills you used, and the software that made it possible. Are you competent in Unity, UE4, 3DS Max, Maya, Photoshop or Harlowe? Employers would LOVE to know that.

  • Include Contact Details: Ideally your portfolio will be seen in conjunction with a CV, but that might not always be the case. It’s good practise to include contact details at the very top of your portfolio to ensure those interested in reaching out to you can do that. The inclusion of a phone number and email address is a must! Often times internal and agency recruiters use portfolio sites to find the perfect candidate for their vacancies. If your portfolio is up-to-date and has correct contact information, your ideal role might actually come to you!

  • Tell Them About Yourself: Inject individuality throughout your write-ups, talk about your inspirations, and make sure to include a short bio under your contact information. A hiring manager might not have seen your CV, so trim down the bio you’ve used for that and add it to your portfolio. Limit yourself to no more than two or three sentences. Your work will talk for itself, but it’s nice for them to get to know the person behind the projects. It will give them a better idea of how you’ll gel with the team they already have.

  • Quality Over Quantity: Although it might be tempting to have a portfolio brimming with projects of all different shapes and sizes, showing your brightest and best will ensure that the viewer’s experience will be an enjoyable and productive one. They won’t have to work to find the pieces that are truly representative of your skill, and your best work will be found. Ensure uploaded artwork are high-quality images and that playable games have several interesting screenshots. If you have any notable testimonials, include them too in your write-ups, as well as any awards or achievements you’ve obtained for your work.

  • Add a Photo of Yourself: The human connection cannot be overstated. A logo or illustrated display picture might be cool, but there’s really no alternative to a well taken portrait photograph of yourself. It’s scientifically proven that people are more receptive when they know they’re engaging with a real person. Show yourself off. Make sure to wear an approachable expression!

  • Consider a Blog: Adding a blog to a sub-section of your portfolio can be a useful tool for someone to get supplemental information about you, both as a person and as a professional. Whether you’re writing about how you’ve completed a certain project, or are speaking more about your interests and inspirations, it can demonstrate your character and subject knowledge. 

  • Include Social Media Links: Do you have frequently updated social media accounts? Maybe you have an impressive following on Instagram or your own community on Twitter? Make sure to include links to this! It’ll show hiring managers that there’s a market for what you do and provide them with a case study of how you engage with people publicly online. This is important, especially when they’re considering how you’ll represent their brand.

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