Create a digital portfolio that makes a great first impression.

As working from home becomes the norm for more and more businesses, companies are beginning to look for candidates from across the country, increasing the competition for every job. An impressive resume isn’t enough to stand out from the very qualified masses. You need to impress and differentiate yourself — and a quality portfolio website is a great way to show your stuff, make an impression, and stand out from the crowd.

The old adage “Show, don’t tell” still holds true in today’s job market. Potential employers don’t just want to review qualifications on a resume, they also want to see what you can do and how well you can do it. A recent report on Zety confirms that one of the five key attributes a recruiter will look for in a job seeker is a link to a personal blog, portfolio, or website.

What is a digital portfolio?

A digital portfolio is a chance to visually display what you have accomplished so far in your career and take potential employers on a creative journey. Think of your portfolio as an elevated, professional scrapbook that shows off your strongest skills.

The best digital portfolios are both eye-catching and digestible. The goal is not to display every single project you have completed in your career. Instead, it’s to highlight your best work and display a range of capabilities. And if you think digital portfolios are only for artists, think again. You can create a beautiful and professional digital portfolio for almost any industry.

Unlike several decades ago when portfolios only existed in hard copy, digital portfolios can take on many forms:

  • Website. A website is one of the most popular platforms for hosting a digital portfolio. Hosting sites like Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace make it easy to create a standalone website, while sites like Behance and Flickr act as hosts for uploaded work. With a website portfolio, you can easily share a link to your site across social media platforms so anyone can peruse your work.
  • PDF. PDF portfolios are popular in industries that are typically less visual like finance or copywriting. They allow you to organize text-heavy examples alongside visuals in an organized way. It also gives you the option to print your portfolio if the need arises. Create a PDF portfolio in Google Slides or Microsoft PowerPoint to take advantage of templated designs and to customize typography and color. Before sharing your completed portfolio, you can use a free PDF viewer like Acrobat Reader to ensure everything looks great.
  • Social media. Your social media can be a portfolio itself. With a bit of planning and organization, this can be a very effective way to demonstrate your abilities. However, social media works best as a supplemental portfolio. For most professional opportunities, you’ll still need either a website or PDF version with personal details and curated content.
  • Cloud storage. While technically a place to store portfolio content, cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox should be viewed more as a storage solution. If your work currently lives in cloud storage folders, think of it as a great first step to a winning portfolio. Take the time to keep your cloud storage organized so that you can more easily find a variety of your best work for your final portfolio.

How to make a portfolio that makes a great first impression.

Remember that the purpose of your digital portfolio is to show someone who you are and what you can do. So, first and foremost, make certain your name or logo is visible throughout the portfolio. This ensures that everyone who reads your portfolio always knows whose work they are looking at — and who they should hire. Include your contact information at the beginning or end of your portfolio where it can’t be missed.

You can choose to publish your portfolio on a variety of platforms, and each has its own considerations. Whichever way you choose to present your work, organization is key. In general, you can structure your portfolio with sections for either individual projects or categories. For example, an interior designer could have pages for each house they designed or pages for kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms.

Finally, keep in mind that your digital portfolio and your resume work hand-in-hand. Link to your resume in PDF format from your portfolio or include it at the end for reference.

A desk computer shows a colorful digital portfolio

Industries where a digital portfolio is essential in the hiring process.

Whether you work in marketing, architecture, or a wide variety of artistic fields, a good digital portfolio is the new normal for landing your next gig — and if your industry isn’t there yet, it may just be a matter of time.

1. Photographers

It’s no surprise that a visual medium like photography requires a good way to showcase your work. And while displaying your shots on social media is a great way to build your brand and get attention, getting hired by a client or employer will require a personal website featuring a stylish photography portfolio.

Your site and portfolio will set the tone for anyone viewing your work — so make sure the style matches the niche you want to be competitive in. Then, ensure the work you display is what potential employers or clients want to see. Wedding planners will want to view your work from previous ceremonies, sports organizations will want to check out your photos of other sporting events, and publications will want to evaluate your photojournalism or portrait abilities before considering you for their magazine.

Even after you find your niche, make sure to showcase a diverse range of photos in your portfolio. This will show your future employers that you are competent in framing your shot, lighting, and basic camera techniques, as well as the unique flavor you bring to your photography field of choice.

2. Makeup artists

A laundry list of shows and fashion shoots you’ve worked on will go a long way, but if a prospective employer can’t see your work, odds are you’re going to have a hard time getting hired in the makeup industry.

Whether you specialize in runway, fashion, or even movie makeup, an online portfolio that showcases your abilities is essential. Video is particularly useful in this industry, since seeing how you work may be just as important as the final product. Show off your skills through tutorials, product unboxing and demonstrations, and sharing your opinions and advice. Craft videos for specific audiences with beauty tutorials for proms or weddings, or get gruesome by transforming an actor into a zombie with special-effects makeup.

Build content for where you want to work and make it easy to find online so people can peruse your work easily before hiring you.

A person taking a photograph of a data graph with their smartphone

3. Graphic designers

In a field where your work might include everything from logos and typography to conveying a company’s messages through art, a portfolio isn’t a suggestion — it’s a must. Graphic designers need to demonstrate an ability to portray the style of a company they work for. For this reason, virtual portfolios in graphic design usually feature examples in a variety of styles — from classic corporate styles with gravitas to playful branding in impactful colors.

Because many graphic design jobs require familiarity with different graphic design apps, having branding artwork, typefaces, and even motion work shows off your versatility and skill. And making all these samples available virtually is essential in a field where digital design is part of every company’s branding.

4. Architects

If they can see how you built it, the job offers will come. Architects want to showcase the designs, research, and various projects that demonstrate their style and creativity. This is all necessary for both potential employers and building inspectors to see. A slick online portfolio will make it easier for architects to find employment or get approval for construction permits.

A good architecture portfolio will show your style and why you’d be an asset to completing building projects in a timely manner — from showcasing your creativity to your ability to work speedily within city regulations.

5. Writers

A great writer may be able to craft clever taglines, simplify complex topics into easily understood articles, and capture the voice of various brands, but without the ability to read the work, no prospective employer will ever know.

An online portfolio is an excellent tool for any writer to showcase their different skills, passions, and impressive wordsmithing across projects like blogs, eBooks, social media, websites, and more. Be sure to include samples of your work that show hiring agents the writing they are looking for — writing in the field you want to work in — and how you do it well.

Make sure your portfolio, personal site, and social media handles are well-curated and spelling-error-free to show how your eye as an editor would benefit any organization that works with words.

6. Artists

Gone is the era of solely relying on a bulky sketchbook or physical portfolio to showcase your work. More artists are working on tablets these days, crafting digital art for everything from brand campaigns to digital comic books. An online art portfolio is a quick and easy way to share your drawing or painting skills with a client.

A good sampling of work in a portfolio will demonstrate your creative abilities, as well as your understanding and mastery of artistic elements like composition, perspective, proportions, and more. Make sure your portfolio is filled with work in the field you want to work in. Show prospective employers you have the skills they are looking for, whether it’s visual storytelling, fine art, or crafting professional portraits. (Artists who create 3D works like jewelry or sculpture, for example, may need photographs to show off their work. But having work samples readily available digitally is still essential.)

Artists can also showcase their technical chops by uploading their work as JPEGs to make their site load faster for visitors. Because PDFs have a larger file size, converting a PDF to JPG may help decrease loading times. You may also want to compress PDFs to maintain a manageable file size and load time for your portfolio or merge various files first to keep them all in one place.

Artists need to keep their portfolios updated, and digital portfolios make it easy to quickly upload images of their work to keep things fresh — as well as making it simple to share work on social media to get noticed by potential clients.

An artist creating on a canvas that is lying on the floor

7. Marketing professionals

Like so many mediums, marketing continues to shift more from print to digital, so making an online portfolio is a must for any modern marketer. Most potential employers, clients, or partners will need to see proficiency across a number of marketing venues — from SEO blogs and Facebook ads to print ad samples and multimedia campaigns — and a digital portfolio is a quick, easy way to show them different projects you’ve completed throughout your career.

While the work itself is key, insight into how it got done is also of value. Make sure your portfolio includes details about your projects like:

  • How much time they took to complete
  • Marketing tactics used during the project
  • Your project collaborators
  • Lessons learned from the experience

A good marketing portfolio will, where possible, feature metrics on the results of the project. Include research and statistics that show the marketing campaigns didn’t just look good or read well, but that they performed successfully too.

Two graphics: Adding text to a document on a laptop computer; Signing a document on a laptop computer

Make your digital portfolio easy to access with Adobe.

No matter what field you work in, people can’t see your work if they can’t find your portfolio. You can use Adobe Portfolio to build a stylish, professional showcase of your work that can be easily shared and discovered online.

And with so much material to include in any portfolio, you need an app to help you convert files, edit and update work samples, and easily share it all with potential employers and clients. Adobe Acrobat gives you the tools you need to put your best foot forward digitally, helping ensure you’re able to bring various different samples into your portfolio. And once people have seen and loved your work, you’ll want a solution that allows you to digitally sign contracts to work on projects quickly.

In the modern job market, a digital portfolio isn’t just the first impression you make, it spotlights your ability to work with different apps to get the job done. Showcase those skills and your creative work with an interactive digital portfolio that wows and makes it easier for people to hire you.