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19 January 2024 - 7 minutes

Building Your Tech Portfolio: Showcasing Your Skills and Projects

Discover how to create an attractive and effective portfolio.

Ironhack - Changing The Future of Tech Education


To stand out as a tremendous candidate, including a portfolio as part of your application is a crucial step. Anyone can have a well-written resume with lots of experience, but with so many people applying for the same role, you want your application to stand out and really show hiring managers what you can do. 

This is where portfolios come into play: portfolios are samples of your work provided to potential employers that give a bit more detail than a cover letter, pitch, or CV; by displaying proof of what you’ve actually accomplished, you’re able to give the hiring managers a better idea of what you’re capable of. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the purpose that portfolios serve in the job hunting process as well as some of our best tips and tricks for properly showing off your skills and projects. 

What is a Portfolio?

Before we get right to designing your perfect portfolio that will ensure your inbox is full of interview requests, let’s make sure you understand what a portfolio is and its purpose. As we mentioned above, a portfolio is a collection of work samples that provides physical proof of the work you’ve done–instead of simply mentioning it on your CV or in an interview. 

The exact style of your portfolio will depend heavily on your specific industry and skills, but you can expect to choose a few select pieces of your work to include. They can take many forms, including: 

  • A physical book: if you’re heading to an in-person meeting or think your work is better viewed in 3D, putting together a physical portfolio may be your best shot. Be careful, however, because these are harder to update over time and may become outdated after just a few years in the field. 

  • A digital download: if you want to be able to easily share your portfolio through file attachments or emails, a PDF or other digital download can be the perfect choice for you. In addition, you can update it relatively easily if you keep the original draft saved, customizing it for specific roles. 

  • A website: portfolios have begun taking on the form of websites; these are popular because they’re easy to link in social media posts or help your name come up first on online searches. Websites are also easy to edit and change over time, allowing your portfolio to always reflect your best and most current work. 

Even with this explanation, we still hear this question a lot: ‘I’m already sending in a CV and cover letter–if they wanted to know more, they’d invite me back for an interview, right?’ And while some companies may decide to interview based on your resume alone, more and more companies are requesting portfolios, especially in tech roles, to ensure that the applicant’s work matches what they’re looking for before inviting them in for an interview. 

Don’t believe us? Here are some key reasons why you need a portfolio to showcase your skills and projects: 

  1. Personal branding has never been so important: the vast majority of hiring managers or potential supervisors will search your name online at some point during the interview process, wanting to make sure you match their brand values. If you have work available online, they’ll be able to get a grasp for who you are and what you do before even interviewing you, giving you a head start in the application process.

  2. The days of believing words are long gone: you can tell interviewers that you’ve mastered a certain skill or completed a project, but they want to see proof of what you’ve done and the potential you have for success at their company. With a portfolio, you can make sure they get a clear picture of what you’re capable of.

  3. Portfolios control the company’s first impression of you: portfolios aren’t just a boring collection of the code you’ve written or cybersecurity policies you’ve put into place; it also explains who you are, the skills you have, where you’ve worked, and gives a physical representation of what you’ve accomplished. And as the portfolio is probably one of the first things the company will associate with you, it gives you the chance to make sure that first impression is spotless. 

Building the Perfect Portfolio 

Okay, we’ve convinced you: you’re ready to take the next step towards landing your dream job and create a portfolio that reflects everything you bring to the table: your skills, experience, and knowledge. So where do you begin? Well, you’ll ultimately have to shape your portfolio to what you have to offer, but read through our tips for creating a tech portfolio and discover what seems like the right fit for you. 

Include a personal summary 

The first page of your portfolio should provide a concise and helpful summary about who you are, what your area of expertise is, what you’re looking for, and what you’ve accomplished thus far. This shouldn’t be a lengthy run-down of everything you’ve done; instead, keep it short and make the reader intrigued and eager to turn the page. 

As the first thing that potential employers will read, make sure this personal summary includes a clear picture of what you can offer to the company. You may need to edit this page for each different application, making sure it lines up with the company’s specific offer. 

Lastly, ensure your personal statement clearly provides contact information, making it easy for the company to get in touch with you if they wish to move forward. 

List your skills–with proof 

Now that who you are is clear, let’s get into why we’re here: your skills. It’s time to lay out your skills in a bit more thorough way than your resume does, providing some explanation and, of course, proof, of what you bring to the table. While it’s good to include as many as possible, make sure that the majority are relevant to the role at hand; include both hard and soft skills, showing the hiring manager you’re a well-rounded candidate. 

If you have a digital portfolio, such as a downloadable or website, take the chance to link some of your work to each skill, providing demonstrable evidence of that skill. This helps the interviewer see that you truly have the skills and how you’ve put them to use. 

Add your professional accomplishments 

This section depends on where you are in your career; for those just starting out, this may be a section you’d like to skip, but if you have published work or reviews about what you’ve done, this is a great place to include it. 

If you’re a career changer, don’t be afraid to include details from your experience in other sectors; hiring managers are looking for well-rounded candidates who deliver quality results and knowing that you’ve already done that in another area will boost their confidence about you. 

No matter what you choose to include here, make sure you use data and action verbs to explain exactly what you did to better the company and improve performance. 

Provide samples of your work 

This is your time to shine! After explaining who you are, your skills, and what you’ve done previously, it’s time to put your money where your mouth is and provide samples of the work you’ve done. This will depend heavily on your area of expertise, obviously, but designers can include images of their websites and data analysts should provide charts and graphs of some of their most successful analyses.

Choose carefully and make sure the work you include is a fair and quality representation of the work you can do.

Include references 

The last part of your portfolio should include a list of references or contacts of people/companies you’ve worked with in the past and their contact information so that the company can reach out easily to those you’ve worked with and get their opinions. Make sure you ask for the consent of the references before adding them to your portfolio, especially if it’s online. 

If you aren’t comfortable including the contact and reference information this early in the process, you can also ask them for a quick quote about working with you which you can include at the end of the portfolio. A collection of complimentary comments can help boost the prospective company’s faith in you and reach out for an interview. 

We know that the interview process and job hunt can seem like an insurmountable hill at some points and learning how to best cultivate your application is a key part of ensuring you reach success in your search. At Ironhack, we provide comprehensive and detailed career services both during your bootcamp and up to one year after, giving you the chance to finetune your interviewing skills, CV, portfolio, pitch, and more. 

We know that tech is changing and the next generation of techies will need to showcase their skills to land a job; our bootcamp curriculum includes projects so that you’ll have work to include in your portfolio immediately after graduation. What’s better than that? 

If you’re ready to take the plunge into tech, you’re in the right place. See you in class!

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