You've been hard at work building your skills! Now it's time to apply for jobs, or build your client list if you plan to work independently.
Before you get overwhelmed by all the possibilities, let's consider your portfolio's "user" or audience as you put it together.
We'll be touching on a lot of themes which we'll continue to build upon and explore throughout this course. To start, we are going to get in the mindset of the audience, think how you can present your work to them, and do your homework to make sure you're prepared to do your best work.
Respect the audience
People are busy. Teams need good workers. Companies are looking to hire talent. The challenge is they don't have a lot of time on top of their existing workload to focus on recruitment. Interviewing takes time, so when they get to that stage, they want to make sure they're talking to the right people. You want to keep the user, or in this case, audience (recruiter, hiring manager, team leader), in mind so that you not only respect their time but also capture their attention.
A portfolio is an excellent way you can help capture and hold their attention. How you present your work can help you achieve that. We'll explore various tips, tricks, and tools throughout this course.
Think like a curator
It can be tempting to want to show all the work you've ever done, but that will be overwhelming for the person looking at it. They don't want to have to wade through a hundred pages to get a sense of what you're capable of. Instead, you want to think like a curator and edit down a selection of work and organize it in a way that is easy for the audience to understand each project. Case studies within a portfolio are often the best way to succinctly communicate the story of what you've worked on (we'll look at this in more detail in a later chapter).
To start, consider the projects you've done which are most relevant to the job you're applying for. This works for freelancers as well as those seeking full-time employment. Thoughtful consideration of your audience will get you noticed.
You'll want to highlight the kind of skills they're looking for (think about what you know, but also take a close look at the job listing for more ideas), as well as type of projects they may be interested in (if you're applying for a job in healthcare, an app you prototyped to record doctor visits could be interesting to include). Your past experience doesn't always have to be a perfect match with the work you want to do, but you do want to make sure you highlight what you're capable of. Remember, your audience likely isn't familiar with you or all your work, so put together a collection that is going to help get you noticed.
Do your homework
Before an interview, make sure you research the company. Often what you learn through quick first impressions can be quite meaningful. Most companies won't mind if you don't know every detail in the history of the company; however, you'll be able to ask more informed questions if you know how the company was founded, the work they do, and any partnerships they have. You don't need to be a know it all, just show you care and are interested in the work they do.
There's a good chance you'll be asked your opinions about the company's website, app, or online presence in the interview depending on the role you're applying for. Sure, everyone wants to hear good things, but the company is also hiring you so they can keep moving towards the next level. Try to find something you feel is working well, but also some ideas for what could be improved. As an outsider first impressions can be very valuable, but also keep in mind that you don't have the same insights about users that the company does. You could also point out the value you could bring in your experience conducting user research that would help inform your decisions.
You won't always know who you're interviewing with so try to do a little research. Sometimes you'll be meeting with a hiring manager who helps look for talent across all departments and teams, or you may find yourself meeting directly with your future boss. Either way, your portfolio is a way to highlight your expertise, while giving insights into your process.
Throughout this course, we'll look at ways you can present your work and various factors to keep in mind. As with every user experience, don't forget your audience along the way!
Your audience is busy. They are people who don't have a lot of time and need help. Design a portfolio that showcases your work, and is easy for the viewer to see exactly what you have to offer.
Think like a curator. Include your best work that will highlight your expertise. Don't attempt to show everything.
Research the company and anyone you may be interviewing with. This will not only help prepare you for your conversation, but they are likely to ask you for your thoughts and feedback on the product or site.