Your Portfolio Is One Click Away From Disaster

6 tips for maximizing visibility and engagement

First impressions are everything. When I review a portfolio online, I close it if I can't find what I am looking for in the first 10 seconds of arriving on-site. If you are going to have an online portfolio, you'd better make it easy to find, easy to use, and full of good content. 

The chance to move to another agency that actually fits all your wants is rare. Not having a portfolio ready to go that is also continuously updated will limit your ability to apply. What's more, the process for posting a new job in an agency is laborious, time-consuming, and in most instances, painful. The teams doing the hiring are in a rush, typically because of a new win or a critical position being open. So your book should be ready to go at a moment's notice.

If your portfolio doesn't reflect the breadth of all you can do, your future employer won't give you the credit you deserve. You could lose out on negotiating power when it comes to salary, and organizations might not be interested if they can't see potential awards in your future. Especially when you are going for a step up on the ladder, you need to show all you've got.

Let Your Portfolio Do the Talking

Your portfolio could be the difference between working for your dream company and being stuck in an unhappy situation. The industry isn't overly interested in which school you went to or how high your GPA was; agencies want to see tangible evidence of the work you've done. But no one will even care if they can't find it online. 

Here are six ways you can boost engagement and increase visibility of your work in a digital world: 

1. Use an online portfolio service

One of the most effective ways to get your work out there is using services like Behance. Sites like this allow for showcasing your work in snackable bites. They require no development skills, and you can get work up fast. 

Behance, for example, works with many design suites to allow for instant export right to it. Plus, you can add in your previous work experience, allowing employers to download your résumé immediately instead of tracking it down on another site or emailing you. 

Another perk of these services is the viewer's ability to like or upvote your clips. When people appreciate your work, you move up in the rankings and could become a featured creative. 

2. Update your LinkedIn profile

Building a portfolio also includes creating an amazing, ever evolving, always updated LinkedIn profile that links to your work. And because it can easily display your work on your profile, recruiters can quickly find you and your portfolio in one spot. 

Post about work you love—that both you and others you respect did. Create connections and join groups within LinkedIn that help you network with other creatives and get more of your work out. 

3. Apply for awards

Another great way to get your name out is through award shows. Find local, regional and even international shows to get your name out there. The judges see your work, and if you win, the public will help you bask in the glory.

Winning awards provides proof that your work is worthy, and it shows that you're not just saying your work is good—industry experts agree with you. 

4. Show, don't tell

Your industry value comes down to the work you show in your book. But the work isn't the entire story—you need to demonstrate how you went from concept to execution. 

Are you an illustrator? Consider displaying your initial sketches to demonstrate how it came to life in its final, fully vectorized format, as this person did. For website design, a simple description can go a long way. The setup in this example is a quick "Intro, Problem, Solution"—I can see all the development and thinking as the example builds. 

5. Keep ahead of trends

As technology continues to grow, you should also consider new trends that will impact how you should approach your work's presentation. Design with mobile in mind. 

Executives will overlook your portfolio if they have to find a laptop to see your work. And considering that Google now takes mobile-first into consideration with SEO, ignoring this reality will only harm your ability to work at a new agency. 

6. Stay simple

Keep your portfolio easy to use. If your book is difficult to navigate, an executive will go to a new page and never look back. 

Everything should be simple, and users should be able to move from one showcase to the next without too many clicks. A clean design will be intuitive and will make your messages clear to potential agencies and clients, allowing them to quickly understand your work without the frustration of bad site navigation. 

Standing out against the crowd in the marketing and advertising world is a difficult job, especially when it moves quickly. Keeping a dynamic, updated portfolio is your best bet to get noticed. Just think: With the right first impression, an exciting new career could be just one click away. 

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Nic Climer
Nic Climer is executive creative director at RAPP.