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16 January 2024 - 7 minutes

Portfolios vs. CVs. vs Pitches: What are They?

Learn what these three crucial elements of a job application are.

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The job interview process can feel like an unending battle: from submitting lots of applications and finally hearing back and heading into a series of interviews and assignments, is there an end in sight? We’re here to tell you there is, but before you get to that amazing feeling of being offered a job, there’s an important skill to master: your application. 

Unless you’ve been personally recruited by a company, your application will be the first exposure that the company has to you, which means you have to put a lot of effort into ensuring that it captures their attention, accurately depicts you and what you offer, and makes them want to learn more. 

The requirements of job applications will vary significantly based on the role and the company, but three common elements, especially in tech, are portfolios, CVs, and pitches and in this article, we’ll break down each, in addition to explaining why they’re such crucial aspects of the job application process. 

A Breakdown of Job Postings 

They all seem kind of similar, right? They start with a catchy introduction of what the company is looking for, followed by a few lines that are supposed to draw you in and make you interested in the role. Then the posting usually lists some of the role’s responsibilities and requirements, such as a certain area of study or years of experience; the last section outlines the benefits that you, the potential employee, would have if you got the role, such as salaries, vacation days, healthcare, remote work policies, and much more. 

Even if they all follow the same rough outline, there’s actually a lot more to them–if you look carefully, you can gain valuable information from job postings. Here’s what to look for: 

  • Your gut feeling: when you first read the posting, does it give you a good feeling and are you interested by the role? Can you picture yourself working there? Don’t be afraid to listen to your gut and move to the next one if you get a weird feeling. 

  • The basic requirements: some companies are willing to interview candidates that fall slightly outside of their ideal qualifications, but most won’t entertain your application if you don’t have what they’re looking for. And this goes both ways: if you’re looking for a remote role, don’t apply for a hybrid or fully in-person role thinking you can work it out later on.

  • The responsibilities of the role: this is an area where some red flags are brought to light, highlighting, for example, multiple roles meshed into one or unrealistic expectations of a single employee. Take a careful look at the job responsibilities and compare it to similar offers in the industry–does it match up? 

Now that you know what to look for in a job posting and have decided to move forward with your application, you scroll to the bottom to see how you can apply. But you face another question: what is a CV? Or pitch? And a portfolio? These common requirements for a job application can sometimes confuse potential candidates–and we’re here to clear that up for you. 

How Do You Apply For a Job?

The actual process of applying for a job will depend quite heavily on the company, where you found the posting, and how many applicants they receive. But to provide you with a general overview, we can safely say that the company will provide instructions at the end of the posting, which could be: 

  • Send your application to X: some companies will prefer that applicants email their application package to a specific email–this helps see who is willing to take that extra step to apply instead of just pressing a button. 

  • Use the job board to send your application: lots of job boards have automatic application functions which collect your CV and portfolio when you sign up and have a one click function to submit your information to the company. Although this is quite easy for applicants, it does lead to a very large number of candidates because applying is so easy and straightforward. 

  • Head to the company’s website to apply there: other companies will direct you towards their own hiring site, usually when the company is larger, where they will guide you through a series of questions to see if you’re a good fit. This helps weed out applications who simply don’t fit the job’s basic requirements and makes it easier for the company to evaluate the right applicants. 

Even though your process for applying might be different, all companies, especially in the tech industry, will want you to include certain documents to help them both see your experience and what you bring to the table. Three of the most common things requested are CVs, portfolios, and pitches. 

What is a CV? 

Also called a resume, a CV is a one-page (usually) summary of your work, education, and skills, showing a potential employer where you’ve worked, your degrees, and what you’ve done in previous roles. Almost every single company will request a CV and that’s why they’re so important: everyone else you’re up against will also have submitted a CV and including the following elements will help set you apart and provide a comprehensive snapshot of what you can offer the company: 

  • Your contact information: you don’t want the company to have to hunt to find your email or phone number so that they can contact you! At the very top of your resume, list your full name and contact information so that you’re able to reach out if they think you’re a good fit. 

  • Your education: some people think this just includes your university or graduate degrees, but you should add any sort of education you’ve received on your CV, such as online classes, certifications, or bootcamps. 

  • Your work experience: even if you’re early on in your career, listing your work experience helps show employers your wide range of skills and what you’ve had experience with, which is highly valued in tech roles that require a mix of both hard and soft skills. 

  • Your skills: sometimes you have additional skills, like programming languages or foreign languages, that don’t fit in any other area on your CV and ensuring they’re mentioned can help set your application apart from others. 

What is a Portfolio? 

More and more companies have started asking for portfolios in their applications and there’s a simple reason why: it’s a quick and easy method for seeing your work in action and what you’re capable of, in addition to seeing your experience. Portfolios are either physical or digital (digital portfolios are more common in tech) collections of your work, displaying projects you’ve worked on, pieces you’ve written, or designs you’ve created in a succinct manner. 

The exact portfolio you create will depend on your specific line of work, but the following are great things to include: 

  • Samples of your work: you don’t need to add long and complicated copies of your work, especially if you’re in a field like web development, but you can include bits and pieces that highlight what you’ve accomplished. 

  • Data-backed reports: showing what you’ve done is one thing but providing data-backed evidence of how your work has benefited the company is a completely other thing and one that helps the company see that your work is highly effective. 

  • Client/co-worker references: nothing’s better than hearing from the horse’s mouth and if potential employers can see that others trust you and are happy with your work, they’ll be more likely to give you an interview.  

What is a Pitch?

As cover letters are becoming more obsolete and hiring managers are tasked with sorting through large piles of applications, looking for that one standout, pitches are becoming more common: pitches are short and attention-grabbing statements that quickly summarize you and your experience. It can be hard to pick and choose what to include, but keep these tips in mind: 

  • Only include relevant information for that specific role: you’ll need to tweak your pitch slightly, depending on the role you’re applying for; make sure you truly hit the basics and don’t go into too much detail. The idea of a pitch is to capture their attention and make them want to learn more, not to give them a complicated summary. 

  • Include your experience and skills: it can be tempting to just talk about where you’ve worked or what you bring to the table, but pitches should include a mix of both, giving the potential employer an accurate snapshot of what you offer. 

  • Mention what sets you apart: are you a career changer, bringing different skills to the industry? Or are you incredibly proficient in a certain programming language? You want the hiring manager to remember you and want to learn more, so make sure you make your pitch memorable and exciting. 

Navigating the tech job market can seem nearly impossible, but mastering CVs, pitches, and portfolios is a necessary part of landing your dream job in tech and that’s why Ironhack’s Career Support that’s provided to bootcamp students throughout their entire course and up to a year after graduation focuses on these exact elements, ensuring students are well-prepared for the job search.

If you’re interested in getting into tech but are unsure about the job hunt, that’s exactly why we’re here: to help you both learn what you need to land a job in tech and master the job hunt. Ready? We’ll see you in class.

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