Institute of Product Leadership
Close this search box.

Your Design Portfolio Should Stand Out

In the present scenario where Covid19 has forced companies to layoff employees, every job advertised has thousands of applicants. Most hiring managers will agree that a good portfolio is a major deciding factor in the hiring factor. Alas, while designers at every stage of their career do look up UX interview questions, UX designer job description, UX designer starting salary and even how much do UX designers make, they don’t seem to care for the best UX portfolio!

“When a hiring manager is scanning a portfolio, he or she will have 2-3 seconds to screen your portfolio. The onus is on you to make sure your portfolio stands out,” reveals Vasudha Chandak, UX recruiter and consultant. 

So there, that’s clear. If your portfolio does not make an impression in that split second, your application may just be filtered out. 

What Makes a Good Portfolio

A great design portfolio will demonstrate a clear thought process and workflow. There is no room for clutter. Some therefore opt for a case study approach to presentation. The reasoning is simple: if you show you can solve problems, you will show you can be an asset. Hence, portfolios that illustrate logic and reason when proposing solutions win hands down. If there is a clear explanation on why you took the decisions you took and if you can back it up with user research, it is even better. Simply stuffing your portfolio with pretty images will not tell the story of your design journey. Prototypes, wireframes, visuals, rejected designs, errors…and finally the solution are all elements of a better story. In fact, presenting a portfolio should be nothing short of story-telling.

Rearrange your portfolio to match the uppermost item with the profile of the company  that you are interviewing with. It is equally important to sync the contents with the role you are applying to fill. Many designers are advised to build a diverse portfolio. While building your skills and acquiring knowledge should always be broad-based, your attempt to get hired should be tailored to the vacancy you applied for. It is okay however to demonstrate breadth if you are seeking a generalist role.

Listen to Vasudha’s observation at 0:48 

“One more critical thing I have seen is that people have all sorts of things in their portfolio. If you are applying for a product designer, it just does not make sense that you are having some creative design samples as the number one thing the hiring manager would see.”

Your portfolio designs should exhibit an understanding of business goals. If the work carried out by you does not connect to the business problems and  opportunities and fails to establish that you found solutions that had a positive impact on outcomes, the interviewer will not be convinced. You should be able to link the specific design recommendations made which led to a great customer experience which in turn led to business growth. In fact, a common UX interview question is: “Show me how you started with an opportunity and produced real value for a user and the organization.”

The design of your own portfolio should also impress. You cannot land the job if you wax eloquent about UX and your own portfolio of UX projects is shabby, or too bloated with unrelated “challenge assignments” and projects that do not address real world problems. Good writing skills and good arrangement will catch the attention of the hiring manager.

So make sure your portfolio is sorted and is relevant to the hiring process is key. Do this and you will no longer complain that companies that you sent in your applications to, do not respond!

 Make Sure Your Portfolio is Relevant
UX Recruiter & Consultant, Vasudha Chandak