There's no one best way to design a portfolio but here's my advice, which
I hope you find helpful:
1. Take the view that it will be modular. Have a core set of projects /
samples of work that show your main strengths. If you want to get a job,
those strengths must be desirable in the eyes of a potential employer.
Find out what those strengths are and tailor the portfolio accordingly.
Different employers will look for different things. This is where the
modular aspect comes in. Tailor the portfolio to suit the interview /
contact. That means you have to spend as much time researching your target
employers as possible.
2. Don't put everything in. Only the stuff that achieves point one. In an
interview, don't feel you need to discuss or explain every detail of your
portfolio or the work in it. Focus on the aspects that are important to
the interviewer / potential employer and leave it there.
3. Develop stories around the work. David Heller has already covered this
and I agree with it 100% Employers typically look for more than just
"craft" or "technical" skills. They will also want to see business acumen,
verbal and written communication skills. Rehearse presenting those stories
and your portfolio. Get a book on interview techniques. Learn about the
kinds of questions people ask in an interview situation and work out how
you can use the examples in your portfolio to address those questions.
4. For prints: don't go bigger than A3. Large portfolios are difficult to
carry and don't fit on an interviewers desk easily.
5. Agree with David's point on developing an online portfolio. Consider
using the development process as a way to contact potential employers.
Seek their input as you develop it - what they look for, what they like to
see in a portfolio, whether yours shows that, etc. Think of it as a sort
of guerilla user test. I'm always amazed at the amount of time designers
put into portfolios without actually researching the needs of people who
have to review them. Asking other designers for tips is good but they are
not your market.
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