What to put in an Online Portfolio for Software Developers
Everyone will probably have a different opinion on what they think might be a good idea to put in an online portfolio based on their field, experience, and point of view. I decided what to put in my portfolio based on my experience while searching for jobs at different points in my career. It started off with just my contact details and a few links to my projects and has now evolved to something much more.
A Game of Seconds
A portfolio is just like a CV, which means you have 10 seconds to hook the viewer to stay and look through the portfolio to judge whether they should continue reading it. This means short texts, highlighted focus points, and easily recognisable images rather than text for maximum impact (in my opinion)!
After reading a million job descriptions, applying for jobs, getting rejected in job interviews, people asking for clarifications in experience (most important factor in deciding what to change), and some research. Here are the main points I believe are key for a good portfolio for a Software Developer.
- Years of Experience: The very first requirement consideration mostly.
- Number of projects worked on (the abstract category, not specific to a particular technology, that will come later)
- Strengths in different technologies
- List of Projects (only an overview). A link to it is very helpful
- Anything extra that will show diversity in your skills
- And finally, Contact details
Top 3 Breakdown:
The Top 3 don’t require a lot of explanation, they are figures that demonstrate your experience and diversity. That meant making sure that as soon as someone comes to the page, they instantly see these, which is why I added these figures at the very top of the screen in large text.
As for my strengths, well, I was asked this question a lot, so I started thinking what would be a good way to compare my strengths? Ultimately I decided to make progress bars for each strength, it was a weird idea, but worked as the questions I was being asked were “I see you’ve worked on [Some strength], can you please give me an example of this this this. This meant the strengths section was now working.
List of projects breakdown
Now comes the fun part. How to summarize the projects such that it shows all of the hard work you’ve put into it. No matter how much you are tempted to put everything, truth is, you can’t. Each project description should be as concise as possible. So I decided to display a card view for each project. It had the logo of what technologies the project included on the right (Android, iOS, or a Website), and the logo of the project on the left. I did not include a detailed explanation of the project, they can look at my CV for that.
The project description consisted of only the project name, technologies, frameworks, and libraries used in it, and most importantly, links to the apps/websites. This followed by interviewers asking me about specific libraries I had worked on which were relevant for them. This meant that the project descriptions were working too!
In some job descriptions you read: please provide links to your Stackoverflow, Github, or Blog profiles where you contribute to. I had a blog, so I put up few of my blog posts in that page too. And trust me, it worked like a charm. I was surprised to see how many people actually mentioned that they read my blog. Demonstration of your public contributions is important. If you have a blog, public libraries, good Stackoverflow or Medium profiles, include them! They are important!
A picture is of course optional. I included mine because I had a somewhat professional looking photo, I won’t deem it that important. Your LinkedIn profile and contact number should be clear as day. And that’s it!
No matter what your field, you can relate to some of the advice above. Always keep things concise, determine what your focus points should be, use precise images where possible (but don’t overload images), and most importantly, provide links to your projects.
A good way to get some inspiration is to look at dummy website themes for portfolios. For example, here is a search for Photography Portfolios. Search for themes specific to your field and I’m sure you’ll find some examples. If you don’t know how to create an online portfolio, have a look at my previous blog “Importance of an Online Portfolio and How to Create One” for instructions.
Reading job descriptions is one of the best ways to decide what to put in your portfolio. Always ask for feedback if you fail a job interview, this is another valuable insight into what’s required for you. Don’t simply follow a template or other peoples profiles and copy it. Every person has a unique combination of experience, so use that, think of everything you’re proud of, refine it by cherry picking the most impactful ones based on your research, and get it done. Remember, there might be some trial and error involved!
An online portfolio is a representation of who you are, make one that represents “YOU”!