How to Revamp your Portfolio

In my last post, we looked at the pros and cons of working full-time.

So what if you do want to work full-time? Where do you start?

Finding a quality full-time job boils down to two things: your portfolio and your network.

In this article, we’ll look at how to take your existing portfolio and repurpose it to get the most bang for your buck. We’ll also do a deep dive on how to create custom portfolio pages for job applications, and the top three things to keep in mind as you freshen up your portfolio.
Buckets  
 When most people enter the job market, they cut a new reel and begin sending it out ASAP. I can tell you from experience this isn't effective. You have to be deliberate and methodical.

Try breaking your job search into “buckets”. These are sub-categories of motion design  to focus on. Here are just a few examples:

AR / VR
UI / UX Motion
Film / television focused (interstitials, title sequences)
In-house corporate or tech
Marketing or advertising
Experiential
Sports / broadcast
Smaller boutique / explainer animation 
Gaming

The more specific you can get, the better. The best thing about this approach is that you can always move on to the next thing if it doesn’t work out. You can test one area, and see what works and what doesn't.  The point here is that we’re getting clear on where to put our attention - we’re not just applying for random jobs and hoping it works. We want to be intentional.

If you’re having trouble deciding which buckets to focus on, ask yourself these questions:

Which area will be most beneficial to my long-term growth?
Which area is suited to my skills and experience?
Is this an area I can see myself working in for the next 5-10 years?
What am I most passionate about?  
The Custom Portfolio Page  
The next step in the process is to create a custom portfolio page template.

Here’s how it works: you create a private page on your website only you can access. Put your reel and three of your best projects in here.  Think of this like an online resume / portfolio and CV all in one. 

Once you have a template in place, all you have to do is duplicate it, and customize it for each new job you application. 

This may seem like a lot of extra work, and you might be wondering if it's necessary. But this approach works for a couple of reasons. The first is that it allows you to speak directly to your audience and personalize your content for them. Your portfolio probably has a wide variety of styles, but making a custom portfolio page helps you whittle it down to relevant projects.   

Having one general portfolio page for all uses doesn't always cut it, especially if you're looking for high-paying, quality full-time jobs. 
 
Here’s some general rules of thumb when it comes to choosing which work to include:

1. Quality over quantity. It’s ok to include older work as long as it’s good.

2. Focus on strong design fundamentals. This sounds obvious, but it’s really important. Some motion designers are overly focused on the technical aspects. Good design will get you further than showing off the latest plugins.

3. Prioritize relevant projects. The work has to align with the companies you want to work for. It doesn’t have to be exact, but it should be close in style and content.

Here’s a breakdown of what's worked for me.   
Header  
Start with a quick photo and some copy about yourself. Keep the info relevant and to the point. They want to know how you can help them, not your life’s story.
Reel   
At the top of the page, you can include your reel. If possible, consider cutting a different reel for each bucket. For example, if you’re focused more on AR / VR, try to create a reel focused mostly within that category. Not everyone has enough content to do this, but it's a much better approach than having a general reel that includes a bit of everything. 
Case Studies   
Beneath your reel, include 2 - 3 of your top projects within this category. Take things one step further and add extra content for each project. Don’t just throw a video link in here. You can include sketches, storyboards, notes, and a behind the scenes look at the project.  

One way to breakdown projects is to use the STAR method (situation, task, action, result). What was the context for the project? What was your role? What were the final outcomes of your project? Hiring managers want to see how you solve problems and work with team members. Your thought process and articulation are just as important as your reel.
Software   
Consider listing the software that you’re proficient in. You don’t need to list every software known to man - just the top three or four that you use, and are relevant to your area of focus (C4D, Redshift, etc).  

And for the love of God - don’t include bar graphs that rank your skill level.
Summary   
Summary:
- Divide your job search into buckets, and focus on one bucket at a time.
- Create a custom portfolio template that you can begin using for your job hunt
- Use the STAR method to show your design process

Having a clear direction to focus on and an excellent portfolio is only half of the process. Next week, we’ll look at the other component to landing a great full-time role: tapping into your network!
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