Getting the job (Part 1): How to stand out with your portfolio

When it comes to proving yourself professionally, it’s important to show and tell. Gone are the days where you submit just a CV and cover letter to a prospective employer. Companies want to see portfolios to get a better understanding of potential hires’ skillsets, capabilities and personalities. Showcasing a portfolio of your work is a great way to stand out from the crowd. For creatives, your portfolio is the most important way to showcase who you are and what you can do. It is essentially the deciding factor on whether or not you will get the job.

Do not fear, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create an appealing portfolio or a great writer to impress with your cover letter. We’ve put together a list of essential tips to get you that dream job.

Your online presence matters

Creating a professional portfolio begins by creating an online presence for your work whether it be a website or social media. Nowadays, you can easily share your work on the internet with just a few clicks.

The Trace Academia app offers a free digital marketing course that teaches you how to set up a website so that you can start marketing yourself on the internet. This is a great option for those who cannot afford the time and money to hire a website designer to create their presence online. Companies love the easy access to your previous work, so why not take advantage and be a walking advert by showcasing your portfolio online.

Select the best and leave the rest

Oversharing is not only unnecessary but it shows a lack of focus to future employers. Hiring managers do not want to sift through reels of work that is not relevant to the job you are applying for. You should be extremely selective of what you want to showcase in your portfolio. Think of yourself as a narrator telling the story of your mastery and artistry.


Rank your previous experience in order of importance, the results achieved and how you played a key role in ensuring success. While ranking your past work, you should also think about what exactly you want others to not only see about your experience but, what you want them to know about who you are, how you work and what you can offer in the new role. Remember quality over quantity matters.

Do not underestimate social media

Your social media presence is becoming increasingly important to many companies. Why? Because it is the easiest way to quickly understand and engage with potential hires. Through social media, you’ve got a great opportunity to get your profile and portfolio seen by employers. While you feel social media apps like Instagram, Twitter are more for personal photos and memories, there is no harm in creating professional accounts where you display your work and give access to employers. Also, most social media apps are free and incur no costs on posting and sharing. So, if you are pressed for cash this is a great option to display yourself professionally.


Bonus tip: To make your Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles really stand out, you could try making animated posts on sites like Canva.

Your story matters!

While we’ve emphasised the importance of creating a portfolio and building an online presence, a cover letter is a great way to showcase more than just your work and who you are as a person. In fact, it showcases how your past experiences and skill sets will serve the particular role applied for and ultimately the contribution you will make to the organisation by being hired. Remember, they are not wanting to hire your work but the person who created it. Your cover letter is a great way to put yourself on display. A good portfolio is better when it’s part of a robust trifecta a cv, portfolio and cover letter/story.


Your cover letter (your introduction to your portfolio) should highlight your career journey, your interests and what makes you, you. This is an opportunity for you to tell your story in a way that demands the attention of those making the decision. Keep your cover letter simple, grammatical-error-free and concise. Remember to show and not tell your story. Use key results to support your statements and exemplify your passions through the types of past work you mention.


Bonus tip: Read about the company culture and match your cover letter to the tone of the company.

Ask your friends to tell you the truth…

Creative work can be highly personal, and it’s often difficult to separate oneself and be objective. Solicit your colleagues, mentors, friends for some ‘real talk’ opinions on your work. These groups of people can give great insight into your portfolio of work highlights the best projects you’ve worked on and if you’ve showcased your talents properly. An outside eye is also a great way for you to pick up mistakes like typos, formatting and whether or not what you’re displaying is easy to navigate.


Your portfolio is a culmination of your hard work, your triumphs and your talents. Be proud of it. Now go show it off.



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