What is a Portfolio and How do you Build One?

One of the necessary requirements for a job/role application is a portfolio. 

However, It is also necessary to point out that not every employer or position requires a portfolio. Some positions that require a portfolio are; Graphic design, Motion design, Everything writing-related and Software development. If you fit into any of these categories, your well-curated portfolio is not a negotiation.

What is a portfolio and why is it important for a job application?

In simple terms, a portfolio is a collation of your work samples. 

Let’s say ”Frank” is a graphic designer. If Frank applies for a Graphic design role at GIT Africa, his interviewer will ask for samples of what he has designed. Whatever Frank tenders would be his portfolio.

In other words, a portfolio is a compilation of where and how you’ve used your skills. 

Maybe you ask; what then is a resume? They seem to serve the same purpose, don’t they? You would be right but there is a key distinction between them.

A resume is a one-page document that highlights your professional experience and accomplishment over the years. It has a more holistic view of what you do and where you have done them.

Let’s say you have a set of related skills. Let’s say Frank is also a Content writer. In his resume, he can include both skills but depending on the job he wants to apply for per time, he can tender either a Graphic design portfolio or a Content Writer portfolio. 

His graphic design portfolio will contain designs he has created in the past and his personal projects. Likewise, his Content Writer portfolio will contain the articles he has written, the copies he has published and maybe he writes threads on Twitter, he can include those too. Perhaps he has a blog site, he can include that too! 😁

So, how do you build a Portfolio?

You should have a guess by now and I bet you’re correct! The more you engage your skills, the more your work experience and portfolio builds up. 

Depending on your skill, there are various ways to build your portfolio. Many people find it tasking but below is an easy template to follow regardless of your field:

  • Sort out your best projects

You want to impress your employer and make them go “Yes, this person is ready!”. So, before you start putting all the pieces together, make sure to sort out all you will be including. It makes everything easier. 

Regardless of which skill or tool you’re employing, there should be an “about me section” at the beginning. Succinctly describe who you are, how your past working experience relates to the current application and your soft skills. You should also include testimonials, recommendations and awards you’ve received based on your skill at the tail end of your portfolio.  

  • Arrange your selection

It is one thing to have carefully selected samples and another thing to arrange them well and make them visually appealing. Give your portfolio room, let it breathe. A clustered portfolio is a straight ticket to rejection. Hirers are mostly engaged with a lot of applications to review and may not have to double-check if the portfolio is not visually appealing. Whether you’re using a Google Doc or Notion, Behance or Disha, make it visually appealing.

  • Fact-check your portfolio

To ensure you have all the details in check, you can create a mental model of how the interview will go. Anticipate the employer’s question and crosscheck if you have it answered in your portfolio. A good way to create this mental picture is by having a good digest of the job/role description. “What does this role require? Do i have it checked in my portfolio?” these are questions to fact-check your portfolio.

Leave no stone unturned. Good luck and I’ll be cheering for you! 💪🎉

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