April 07, 2016 by hhogdev

5 Things Employers Want to See in Your Portfolio

It's been busy at Loewy. So busy in fact that we've been looking for a few new front end developers to assist us with our growing workload.

I was asked to help out by finding potential developers, ensuring their skills were up to par, and then grabbing their contact information.  So I googled, I reddit'ed,  I tweeted  and wound up getting an enormous response. I was put in contact with a bunch of front end developers and looked at a ton of portfolios. In the end I found two qualified candidates. If you expected that I would find more than that, well, so did I.

The problem, however, was that with every portfolio I looked at, I could only find about a tenth of the information I was actually looking for. I've started to notice this issue with most portfolios, which I believe is caused when we focus on design over content. The point of having a portfolio is to communicate a message to a potential client. The message should be something like "Hey, I'm awesome, you should hire me, and here's why..."  

That being said, the content in your portfolio should be the main convincing point of that message. The design should come second. It's just like buying a car. If I'm a responsible buyer, I'm more concerned about the car fulfilling my basic car needs than what the car looks like on the outside. In the same right, as an employer, I'm more concerned about the work your portfolio holds than the actual portfolio itself. In 2014, you should rebuild your portfolio from an employers state of mind. You should focus on content over design, and try to do the following:

  1. Be Quick and Concise I don't mean to sound insensitive, but when I land on your portfolio, I'm not there to learn about you as a person, the sport you play, or your cats middle name. I don't need a paragraph explaining what you do, a list of testimonials, or a complicated sales pitch. Think of your portfolio as a gateway to an interview. As an employer, it should show me that your capable while persuading me to want to learn more. Anything less than that is too vague. Anything more than that will be ignored because I have 30 other portfolios to look at.
  2. Give me Options If you force me on a journey that consists solely of scrolling up and down on a single page site, I won't stay on your portfolio for more than thirty seconds. So don't do that. Instead, I'd really like the option to see the technologies your proficient in, some recent work, and maybe a few code samples to back everything up. Please don't make me hunt for that information. Instead, present those three options immediately and we will be friends. I might even buy you lunch.
  3. Link your Pictures When I'm viewing your portfolio, a picture of a site you built means very little to me. As a developer, I want to see the code behind your work. I want to see if your site is responsive, if your jQuery is neat and clean, and if your CSS is minified.
  4. Keep it Light If absolutely anything on your portfolio takes more than 5 seconds to load, I more than likely will not take the time to wait for it. Even if I do wait for it, I probably won't hire you, I'm really just curious to see what it was that I waited for.
  5. Provide Contact Information If I see a perfect portfolio, I'll be really happy and try to contact you. If I click 'contact'  and get sent to an empty page consisting of a single contact form, I'll be sad for the rest of the day and I'll take back my offer to buy you lunch. Maybe I'll still buy you lunch, we'll just go to Burger King instead of Chipotle. A contact form is cold and insensitive. It gives off the vibe that you get a thousand emails a day and might just be too busy to notice mine. Your contact page should have an actual email address. Bonus points if there's a link to an active Github or Codepen profile as well.
Some of these list items are opinionated, and I realize that your portfolio might be different depending on the market you're trying to reach, but the end goal still applies. Think like the person looking to hire you. After all, your portfolio is for them.

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