What is a portfolio & why do I need one?

by Nov 4, 2019

You’re on CareerHub, looking at a job at your dream company that seems perfect for you, and you’re about to hit that ‘apply now’ button but something stops you. You see the word ‘portfolio’ included as part of the application process, but you’ve never put together a portfolio, much less know what work to put into it. 

What is a portfolio? A portfolio can mean a variety of different things, from some loose-leaf pages to a curated online website. However, the most important thing is to think of it in the context of demonstrating your skills in design when applying for jobs. Portfolios are projects within themselves that provide valuable insight into what someone is capable of creating. 

Why should you have a portfolio? Most roles within the creative and design industries ask for a portfolio as part of the application process, and they provide evidence that you can actually ‘design’ and show the way that you think. You will have a portfolio for your entire career, your online portfolio will help you get clients if you’re a freelancer, as you can easily email your pdf portfolio to that person you met at a conference. Your portfolio is your calling card as a designer. 

Putting together a portfolio can feel like a huge and overwhelming task, but not to worry! There are some simple steps that can help you create your portfolio:

1. Find examples of portfolios

There are endless examples of good portfolios online that you can look at for inspiration, everything from sites such as Behance is a good starting point to seeing how other people present.

2. Pick what type of portfolio you will have

What type of portfolio is relevant to you as a designer, an online, pdf or printed pdf? Maybe you need to have more than one of these. Make sure that when applying for a job, that you submit the requested type of portfolio.

3. Select what work to include

Select only your best work and what you are the proudest of.

What is your most recent work?

What does the work say about you as a designer?

4. Tell your story as a designer

Your portfolio is an opportunity to get future employers interested in your work and you can do this by telling an engaging story through the way that you order your projects in your portfolio. 

5. Start putting your portfolio together!

Get started by putting your projects in order. 

Include a small statement introducing each work that explains the brief and your response.

If you need to take photos of your work, remember that you can book DAB photography studios.

6. Get feedback

Ask friends who study the same degree and reach out to any tutors for feedback. Family and friends are a great resource

7. Happy with the final product? You’re ready to submit your portfolio!

8. Plan for the future

Next time you start a new project, think about how you might include it in your portfolio to make sure that you are documenting the process. This will make it much easier to include in your portfolio. 


Remember, your portfolio is something that you will be continually updating during your career and will improve every time! Always be proud of your portfolio and the work that you have done. 

Make sure to take a look at Careers’ Portfolio Guide on CareerHub, which is full of tips from industry professionals, how to make your portfolio stand out, as well as specific tips for individual design degrees. 

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

Emily Nunell

Emily Nunell

UTS Careers Intern (DAB)

Emily studied Visual Communication and International Studies at UTS, which fueled her goal to use design as a cross-cultural mode of communication. She is a critical thinker and creative problem solver whose passions in design range from an obsession with risograph printing and typography to branding. You can find her work here .