Five Tips to Improve Your Portfolio

Portfolios are both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to let your work speak for itself, but also means that you need to put a lot of work into perfecting it. With some job listings receiving dozens or even hundreds of applications, it's easier than ever to be overlooked. But there are things you can do to make your work stand out above the rest. Here are some of the most important things you can do to improve your portfolio. 

1. Presentation matters

We like to think it's the content that really matters and not whatever is around it... But in reality, it's just not that simple. Whether it's hosted on a website or a printed portfolio, presentation says a lot about you. So, go all out! Develop a brand for yourself with a logo and a colour scheme, and be consistent in its application throughout your portfolio and CV. 

2. Go for quality over quantity

Though it may be tempting to show off all of your work, you should only pick your strongest, most recent pieces. It will be easier to digest for the recruiter and leave a much stronger impression of your work. Put more effort in the few that you do show off and go into greater detail.

3. Show off the process

It's not just the final product that employers want to see. Seeing rough sketches/ideas from the initial stages, things you tried which did not work for you, variations of the final piece of work... All of these are an important part of your thinking process, so don't be afraid to show it. And if you're breaking down a group-based project, make sure you're very clear about your role.

4. Don't forget the context

When it comes to context, we have to look at both the placement and content. You may not be a great writer, but that's no reason to ignore this vital part of your portfolio. Have people proof read your copy to filter out any spelling errors - which can be absolutely damning if left in. And there is nothing wrong with learning from the masters and copying a look you really like.   

5. The tailored approach

If there is a workplace you're really gunning for, then pull out all the stops. Tailor your portfolio to this particular company by doing some research. Look at their website, pick apart their work and figure out what they care about. Try to use some of the language they use in your portfolio and use examples of your work which is most relevant to them.

And finally, a secret strategy which has helped me personally: don't rely solely on your website and digital means. If you're invited for an interview, bring a printed portfolio and let the recruiters leaf through it. We humans are tactile creatures and being able to see and hold things simply makes us happy. 

Dana Stoof 
Animator at TopLine Film
University of Hertfordshire Alumna


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