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How to Create a Compelling Portfolio

Portfolio Purpose and Audience

The purpose of a professional portfolio is to succinctly communicate your skills and experience. Your portfolio offers a one-stop-shop for demonstrating your potential as a junior developer and creating a positive first impression. Since "71% of employers Agree or strongly agree...that a portfolio’s quality will influence their decision on whether to hire a candidate." 1 your portfolio needs to include specific content and be design-conscious.

Consider your target audience as you create your portfolio, including:

  • Employers. This is the most obvious audience for your portfolio. Hiring managers and recruiters consider your portfolio when you apply for a position.
  • Networking contacts. Developer (and non-developer) connections can offer referrals and mentorship. Ensure your portfolio makes them feel comfortable with your work.
  • Freelance or contract clients. An effective portfolio site showcases your experience to prospective clients. Your portfolio may be the only exposure an individual hiring a developer has to you.
  • Potential collaborators. Coordinators of open-source or collaborative projects may also view your portfolio. As you work toward these opportunities, you'll need to highlight your past work.

Portfolio Content

Since you're early in the curriculum, you may not have all the components of your portfolio yet. As you work through the career services curriculum, update your portfolio site. We'll revisit your portfolio several times over the next few months to build on these basics.

  • Introduce yourself. Add a page covering your background, professional skills, and goals. This section will be like your LinkedIn "About" and the "Summary"/"About Me" section on your resume. Update your introduction as you build your personal brand and narrative. Aim for a 5-7 sentence introduction, but you can adapt that, but don't overcomplicate it.
  • Make it easy to connect. Include a contact page with your email address, phone number, GitHub, and LinkedIn. Make sure your email, GitHub, and LinkedIn are hyperlinks. Embed a contact form on the page to make it simple for site visitors to get in touch with you.
  • Showcase projects you're proud of. Create a page to highlight your best work. For each project, add links to GitHub and the livesite (or screengrabs if applicable). Include a brief description and explanation of technologies and techniques used. Don't forget to make sure the projects should have well-written READMEs. Refresh your included projects on a regular basis to reflect your growth as a developer.
  • Give your resume as a souvenir. Provide a PDF of your current resume that visitors to your site can view and download. Your resume will include most of the same content as your portfolio site, but it's compact. Resumes are easy for potential connections to skim and refer to. Make sure when you make changes to your resume that you update it on your portfolio site.

Portfolio Design

  • Customize your domain. Don't send site visitors to an auto-generated url. Use a friendly domain, for example: that's easy to remember.
  • Don't forget about aesthetics. If design is not your strength, use a website builder like Wix or WordPress. Make design decisions that enhance rather than distract from your content. Focus on creating an appearance that is clean, professional, and easy to navigate. As you craft your brand, bring that professional personality to your portfolio.
  • Use responsive design. Your portfolio needs to render well across all platforms and devices. Website building software is a great option to make sure that your site looks good no matter what.
  • Be consistent. Whatever design conventions you choose, be consistent throughout your portfolio for a uniform look. Always review grammar, spelling, and readability. Resources like Grammarly, Hemingway, and Google Docs can help you feel confident in your writing.

Additional Resources

Portfolio Examples

When you go through these examples, remember that you’re at the start of your journey as a developer. Your portfolio won’t look like any of these right now and that’s okay. Let these examples guide you as you see what’s possible in your portfolio but don’t be discouraged. We’ll revisit your portfolio multiple times during the course for you to make updates and finishing touches.

Further Reading