Balance Between Content and Design of Portfolios
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
[Part 6 of 7 of Career Portfolios: Proof of Performance]
For most job-seekers, focus-group respondents agreed that content is the most important element of portfolios — but the design has to be functional. For certain job-seekers, such as those in design or creative fields, design plays a larger role.
“Content is uppermost in importance. Of course, for the portfolio to be as effective as possible, the design must carry it. Presentation is important, but presentation of the content needs to stand out beyond the facade of the design,” states one respondent.
“Obviously, the content has to be there,” adds the university career counselor. “If there’s nothing to sell, a fantastic design won’t help. But, over-design can be a negative, too, and can make great content difficult to find, or seem confusing.”
“Just as in a strong resume, design is a critical component of any marketing material,” states the community-college coordinator-instructor. “Portfolios that encourage interest in non art/creative industries tend to be simple and classic. Too many pictures, flowers, and bright colors distract from the purpose. A simple, well-organized portfolio enhances and supports the image of the person and showcases their organizational skills.”
“Poor navigation within an online portfolio is a serious hindrance and too much ‘design’ may take too much time to get from one place to another within the portfolio,” states one respondent.
For the passive job-seeker, an online portfolio can be a tool to foster interest from recruiters, but the key, says a career facilitator, executive coach, speaker, and trainer, is using the proper keywords. The “portfolio needs to contain keywords… the question is whether the client understands that the words need to be changed according to the job description. We have to recognize ‘words’ carry different meanings for people — thus, important to match.”
Go on to Part 7: Final thoughts and sample portfolios
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com.
Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.