Let’s say I’m a recruiter — or a UX hiring manager — looking at your UX portfolio.
If the story it’s telling looks and sounds like one I’ve already heard a thousand times before, I’m moving on.
No matter how great the work lurking under your cover may be, my immediate, instinctive assumption will be been there, seen that.
And so I will move on. Without the slightest hesitation.
Why? Because I am time-poor and stressed and I have a million other things I need to get to in the next 8 hours of my life.
I’ve actually been in that position. And it sucks.
Way before this whole Internet thing happened, we used to have to review portfolios and resumes in physical form. Paper. Stacks of it, in fact.
In the last job I had before launching my own company, I frequently had to hire people. And I dreaded it.
Why? Because that meant hundreds of resumes and huge packages containing 18’ x 24” portfolio cases, stacked up in my office. Imagine getting 200 emails a day that you absolutely have to read.
It’s like that.
And you know what sucked even more than the sheer volume of stuff?
The fact that so much of it was nearly identical.
From the packages to the resumes and portfolios themselves, I saw the same format and presentation over and over and over and…you get the idea. Suffice to say that when everything looks the same, nothing stands out.
And when you’ve got no time to deal with this stuff, you make snap judgments. In seconds. Nothing compelling at first glance?
Forget ’em. Move on to the next one.
Look, your portfolio goes on interviews without you; it stands in your place and speaks for you before you ever get the chance to explain yourself. So it must do three things, from the very first screen:
- Establish your credibility (here’s who I’ve done work for),
- Demonstrate your ability (here’s what I did for them), and
- Promote your successes (here’s what we accomplished).
And if your portfolio’s home screen is a big image or field of flat color that says “Hi! I’m a UX Designer. I care about great user experiences,” you’re not doing any of those things.
If you just had an “Oh, shit” moment, keep reading.
Listen, there are more UX designers looking for gigs right now than at any other point in history. And, as luck would have it, there are also more UX jobs available than at any other point in history.
But here’s what’s important about that: you are swimming in a very crowded pool, and companies are looking for a LOT more detail and evidence than they did some 10 years ago. So it’s up to you —via your UX portfolio — to show them, immediately, that you can meet their needs (and those of their clients).
Because if you don’t, someone else will.
Selling your value — your ability to deliver business results — is the difference between getting the call for an interview and being ignored outright, at first glance.
You may be an immensely talented visual designer. But guess what?
No one cares.
You may do a great job of conducting rigorous user research and creating impressive artifacts like user journey maps and affinity diagrams. But guess what?
No one cares.
You may be so passionate and committed to strategic UX process that it’s literally seeping from your pores. But guess what?
There is only one thing that the client, recruiter or company looking to hire you cares about, and it’s NONE of the things I mentioned above.
What they care about is RESULTS.
What happened as a result of the work you do or have done? Did you help clients or previous employers make or save money? And if so, how?
And as simple as that may sound, I can almost guarantee you that you’re not communicating this clearly in your portfolio. Not in the way that recruiters, employers and clients expect to see it.
I know that because I routinely help clients staff their UX departments. And over the years I’ve probably seen thousands of portfolios — and no more than four stand out as having done an excellent job of telling me just how amazing that person was. Of what an incredible asset they’d be to my organization or that of my client’s.
I also know that the advice you’re getting online, in videos, blog posts, webinars and workshops, is flat-out wrong.
And quite frankly, that pisses me off.
So I created a course to do something about it.
The Build a Powerful UX Portfolio Course.
Across 14 lessons, I’m going to show you why you’re making it harder for yourself to get noticed and get hired. Because even if your work itself is (which I’m sure it is), I have no doubt you’re making many of the same mistakes I’ve seen thus far in my own recruiting endeavors. It’s part of my NEW online school, the UX 365 Academy.
Here’s what students from prior semesters have to say about the course and what it did for them:
“Joe’s portfolio workshop gives you specific, concrete advice you can apply to structuring your portfolio based on the criteria hiring managers and recruiters actually use to evaluate a portfolio.
You don’t get ‘in a perfect world,’ theoretical musings. You get real steps you can take to best showcase your work.”
– Anne Dougherty, UX Architect
“If you find yourself struggling with what to include and exclude in your portfolio look no further. This course doesn’t just tell you what you need, but why you need it.
Joe does an extremely good job at teaching by example and breaking down the steps to building a successful portfolio. Building a portfolio is time consuming and mentally exhausting. I am confident by taking this course – my time is well spent and my confidence is higher than ever before.”
– Maggie Paparella, UX / UI Designer
“This is the best investment in learning that I’ve made in 7 years of my UX career! I recommend this course for everybody who’s looking to create their portfolio or improve it.
I took the workshop because when I was recruiting and applying for jobs, I found the same things that Joe pointed out in his website and social media posts.
But also I recommend the course for recruiters, because it will teach you how to analyze and evaluate portfolios from a UX perspective.”
– Miguel Baeza Menz, UX Designer
You have one shot to sell yourself. Make it count.
Your portfolio is your first exposure to a recruiter, employer or potential client. It bears all responsibility for telling a damn compelling story — quickly, and without your help.
The purpose of this course is to teach you what it should be saying, and how.
Stop waiting and hoping to be deemed worth of an interview. Instead, put yourself in a position where recruiters and clients are clearing their schedules to talk to you.
See you in class — and GIVE GOOD UX!