Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS)

Building your Software Developer Portfolio

Practical Tips for Bringing your Skills to Life


You might be a freelance developer looking for clients, a junior developer straight out of college, looking for your first job, or an experienced developer with lots of projects under your belt, having a portfolio that clearly demonstrates your ability is essential.  Your portfolio will bring your skills to life, proving to future employers that you can do what your resume claims that you can do.  A nicely developed portfolio is key to enabling you to stand out from other candidates during the candidate screening process and can act as a great frame of reference for talking points at interview stage.


Step 1: Choose your Portfolio Platform

In essence, a portfolio is a website that highlights your creations and gives a future employer a clear sense of what you can do and the level at which you can do it.  The first step is to choose the platform on which to build your portfolio.  If you are a competent programmer or web developer, you could create your own portfolio website from scratch. When you create your own website, host it on your own domain, the website itself serves as a portfolio project and example of your work!

However there are many fantastic free website builder including Square Space, Behance and Wix, that could save you time and effort.  It’s a good idea to have a customisable URL so that you can create a domain name that includes your name or the name of your business so that prospective employers can easily find and identify your work.


Step 2: Start with a Bio

Make sure you include a brief paragraph that gives practical information such as your name and contact details. This section should include your elevator pitch; – a few sentences that tell employers, what your strengths are, what you can do and the kind of projects at which you excel. This section should give a sense of your personality.  Consider including some insight into how you got into coding for example.  If you’re brave enough a video introduction can work well here.


Step 3: List Relevant Skills

Its always good for employers to see your skills at a glance, so make sure to list all key skills and certifications.  Make sure to include a link to your traditional resume so that employers can view it alongside your portfolio.  Remember if you do this to ensure that the resume and portfolio are in sync with no conflicting information (project dates, project names etc).


Step 4: Choose What Work to Showcase

It seems obvious but make sure to include your best work and do try to include projects that display a wide range of skills.  Remember, if you’re a graduate, avail of as many opportunities as possible to work on projects that will look good in your portfolio – even if they are voluntary projects. You’ll be renumerated with the experience that these opportunities afforded you.


Step 5: Show your Source Code

While website links or screenshots are okay its even better to go the extra step and show your source code.  Pick a free software repository like Github, Bitbucket, or Gitlab and add your source code. You should also add a descriptor that gives an overview of each of your projects and how to use them.


Step 6: Include Personal Projects too!

You might feel inclined to only include professional projects but if you have personal projects that demonstrate your developer skills absolutely include them (especially if the final product looks good!).


Step 7: Tweak, Tweak, Tweak!

Your portfolio should be a living piece of work that you continuously revise and improve.  If you have a broad portfolio of work to choose from make sure to customise with your most relevant projects for each job that you apply for.  Once you are happy with the standard of your portfolio make sure to share it to your LinkedIn profile.  Creating a portfolio of work can feel like a tedious job at the start but once you develop the art, you will enjoy showcasing your work and will be delighted you bothered when job opportunities come around.

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