A Hiring Manager’s Perspective
Having built more than one design team over the years, I’ve sifted through numerous CVs and portfolios. Within seconds, I form a gut feeling about a designer that is usually validated as I review their work.
To help you make an outstanding first impression, here are my tips for crafting a compelling product design portfolio.
- Clear, Concise & Consistent CVs
Skip the overly graphic design and focus on a clear, simple, and readable narrative. Ensure consistency between your CV and LinkedIn profile to avoid raising red flags in the hiring manager’s mind.
- Align Your Experience with Job Requirements
Highlight your experience working within Agile software teams and collaborating with product managers. Showcase skills that align with the position, and avoid excessive emphasis on freelance web design or UX agency work.
- Use Case Studies
Present 3 to 5 case studies that exemplify your abilities. Each should tell a story, from the user problem to the final outcome, and demonstrate sufficient context and depth.
- Be Transparent About Your Role & Collaboration
Be clear about your involvement and contributions. Don’t claim credit for others’ work. Avoid using “we”. Clearly communicate your involvement, contributions, and collaboration in each project. Build trust by being transparent about your role and teamwork.
- Demonstrate Your User-Centric Design Process
Showcase your design process through sketches, wireframes, Figma designs, prototypes, and user feedback. Explain why you followed specific steps and their outcomes, without overwhelming the reader with too much detail.
- Highlight Outcomes
Share the impact of your designs on key metrics and/or the user problems that were resolved. Demonstrate your understanding of business goals and your ability to create value, not just compelling designs.
- Screenshots Are Not Stories
A collection of screenshots on Dribble or Behance isn’t a case study. Explain your problem-solving approach and decision-making process.
- Tailor Your Portfolio for the Role
Customize your CV and portfolio for the position, emphasizing relevant skills and experience. Show that you’re the perfect fit by making small adjustments, such as re-ordering case studies or adding detail about a specific skill.
- Treat Your Portfolio as a Product
Design your portfolio with hiring managers in mind, addressing their pain points and showcasing your understanding of job requirements. This demonstrates both your design prowess and empathy for your audience’s needs.
- Make a Living, Breathing Portfolio
Continuously update your portfolio with new projects, learnings, and skills, reflecting your growth as a designer.
Remember, creating an outstanding portfolio requires effort, persistence, commitment, and understanding of expectations — the very traits employers seek in a candidate.
Embrace the challenge, knowing that your dedication and continual improvement will open doors to a rewarding career in product design.