The Importance Of The Developer Portfolio

Throughout my early jobs – many comments were made positively about my portfolio. I had a hunch at the time that having a portfolio was important. It was only until later in my career, when I was performing interviews that I realised just how useful a portfolio is to hiring managers and organisations.

Back when I first started development, I spent one year working for a company in London when I caught the bug for being a developer, it was only after this point that I started to work on and create a portfolio. Luckily it wasn’t “too late” and I had retained a lot of the information and work from my university to be able to upload it.

What is a portfolio?

For a developer – a portfolio usually takes the form of a website.
Really a portfolio should be a showcase of some of your work – it’s a modern day CV that shows you, your unique brand, what you stand for, what you like, dislike and what you’re good at.

The power of the portfolio

Think about it from the employers perspective – we spend so much time worrying about what we want, and not nearly enough time seeing it from other peoples perspective.
As a recruiter or an employer, hiring is risky and expensive business – they have to make an educated guess about whether you’re a good hire or not and they only have a few interviews and maybe a test or two to make that decision.
The portfolio makes it easier for those hiring to de-risk you. You can prove you have the skills they are after.

What should go into a portfolio?

Just remember that usually employers are looking for a range of skills: technical ability, an eye for design, ability to communicate, understanding of good practices – all of these can be heavily demonstrated in a portfolio.
If you’re struggling with ideas of what to put, here’s a whole bunch of the top of my head
  • Write a blog talking about some of your work
  • Write a blog that dissects a piece of code you’ve written
  • Write a blog about one of the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your life and how you overcame it
  • Commit to some open source and talk about it
  • Review a website you like and redesign it
  • Redesign a website from scratch
  • Build a demo app
  • Offer to build a website for a family friend
  • Create a website on WordPress for a friend
  • Offer to bug fix or upgrade the styling on a local businesses website

What’s the first step?

So – if you’ve got some ideas about what you can get into your portfolio and are wondering where to start – I’d urge you to go onto some job descriptions that you like, and urge you to start to pull out all of the key attributes and skills that they require – and start to think about how you could demonstrate those.
Take a look at my blog … Be overwhelmingly employable in 1 step as this helps to explain why having a “pitch” for yourself is a key attribute in employability.
If you have a portfolio feel free to drop a link in the comments so we can see all of your work.

Before you leave …

What types of success have you had with your portfolio? – Leave a comment (and maybe even drop your link), I’d love to see what portfolio’s you like and what you’ve done with your own thus far!
Lou Bichard