By Manik Rege

Read: 20 mins.


New to the series? Catch up here!

  1. Make a Job-Search Strategy
  2. How to craft a Killer C.V
  3. Why attach a Cover Letter
  4. DIY your Portfolio
  5. Acing the Interview
  6. How to Resign gracefully


Applying for a job is a lot like selling a car.

  • The recruiter is in the market looking for talent to ride
  • There are many options available to them
  • Your challenge is to prove that your hood is the best

In that case, one of the safest ways to prove your value is to offer a test drive. Psychologically, a first-hand experience has more impact than any sales pitch ever will. So your work is your strongest advocate here.

Enter the portfolio. It helps you back up all the claims made in your C.V and cover letter by demonstrating how you think and execute. Its a display of your style and abilities. Today, we’ll learn how to build one in a creative and understandable manner.

With that, I welcome you to the fourth episode of our “On The Hunt” blog series: How to DIY your Portfolio. To give you an outline of our discussion, we’ll be covering 5 points:

  1. Choosing your sample pieces (case studies)
  2. Resources for designing the portfolio
  3. Structure of content (summary, case study, additional links, contact)
  4. Examples of good portfolios
  5. Conclusion

1. Making choices

Before we start building, decide on 3 case studies/projects that you want to highlight. 5 is the maximum limit, but 3 is still ideal, given the short attention span recruiters have. You should highlight cases which reflect your best performance (KPIs), but are also distinct enough to show diversity in your work (scope). In other words, they should each have a unique style, and when combined together, show a breadth of skills.

For example, in my social portfolio, I’ve tried to highlight 1 goal for each of the 3 brands I’ve worked with:

  1. Fave is all about entertaining content
  2. Edulipse revolves around informative/useful content
  3. RinggitPlus focuses on sales and leads generation

Conversely, if you’re a fresh grad hunting for your first job, pick 3 university assignments with your highest marks. Preferably, two from your major, and one from your minor.
I also suggest doing ‘mock’ projects- where you take up an imaginary brand and challenge yourself to do work for them.

Why do it? See, when I was going for my first job, I imagined being the social admin for Unilever and created dummy posts for the Instagram. I did clarify that this was not real work, but rather an assignment I’d taken up myself. The goal is to prove that you’re capable of doing actual fieldwork, not just school assignments. So doing mock projects is a good way to show that you’re not a school kid but someone who’s ready to play in the big leagues!

Once you’re done choosing your projects, keep the screenshots, links, (for visual/online work), and text files saved in one drive folder. These assets will come in handy when we’re designing the document. Then it’s time to keep some data ready. Create an G-Sheet which lists down these 3 projects. Next to each project, write 2-3 major outcomes or results.

For example, some types of outcomes can be:

Sr.OutcomeExample
1MarksAchieved 90/100 for group assignment
2RevenueBrought USD20,000 from social media sales
3Increase/decrease in KPIsNew design reduced the bounce rate by 45.39%
4Impact on the companyFresh strategy increased overall profits by 16%
5Impact on people (team)S.O.P. helped reduce designing time by 2 hrs.

Remember, you don’t want to look biased towards the impact of your own work. So be as quantitative and objective as possible. And noting down all this info in advance will help you work more smoothly when we get to the real stuff.


2. Resources

We’ve laid the groundwork! Now comes the fun part! There are a few options you can try out, depending on your time constraints.

Firstly, if you have less than an hour or so to submit, you can choose to simply combine your samples in a simple Word Doc and then export as a PDF. Try to get a little more creative by using Canva or Illustrator!

  • You can take inspiration for your design from templates @ Freepik.
  • And if you want to hyperlink text or images, try Sejda’s free PDF editor.

Secondly, if you have a day or 2 in hand, you can work on showcasing your collection of projects online on these public websites:

Thirdly, if you have a week to create a full-fledged online portfolio, you may go the extra mile and own your own free personal brand website on:

Or you may invest in premium options like Squarespace and Adobe Portfolio.

Pro Tip: Squarespace sponsors thousands of YouTubers. They give custom promo codes for initial discounts for site plans. Take advantage of those shout-outs!

If you can’t buy a domain, use a URL shortener like bit.ly to mask the host. For example, manikregeblog.wordpress.com becomes bit.ly/ManikRege. The latter looks much cleaner


3. Structure

We’re done with the resources. Now let’s discuss the actual designing. You should lay out your portfolio in this order:

Sr.PartContent
1Front

Name & profession

2SummaryYour Background + Style/Niche + What to expect + Aspiration
3Case 1Company + Challenge/Brief + Strategy + Techniques + Outcome
4Case 2
5Case 3
6More LinksOther projects + C.V + Testimonials
7ContactPhone + Email + LinkedIn

Now we’ll dive deeper into each of these sections. Flip to continue reading.