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Cover image for The IT job market is tough right now. What are your best tips to create a developer portfolio ?

The IT job market is tough right now. What are your best tips to create a developer portfolio ?

Show your work !

The job market for developers was very tough in 2023.

It was tough pretty much accross the board.

And it was especially tough if for example

  • you are fresh out of a bootcamp, that may or may not teach you programming well, but rarely helps you to get that so difficult first job
  • you really wanted to work full remote
  • you wanted to work as a freelancer but don't know yet how to do prospection by yourself
  • you are not the clichΓ© of the stereotypical developer, meaning 25 years old, white, male, with a master in computer science, 3-6 years of experience, english mother tongue, no hobby outside of programming, and also no girlfriend so that you can spend all your nights and week-ends doing taking home challenges.

If things have been hard for you last year, well yes.
At least it's not about you personally.
In the long term, you will be fine.
But also, as Keynes pointed out, in the long term we will all be dead.

So what can you do apart from falling in the abyss of despair ?
I'm an agent for developers, so I talk with hiring managers aka the people who will decide to hire you or not, and they pointed me out a low hanging fruit :

Most developers don't have any kind of developers portfolio and that's bad.

Why developers portfolio matter

Let's put ourselves in the shoes of Alice, a hiring manager.
Alice is the CTO of a small startup, or some kind of engineering manager at a bigger company.
Alice wants to hire a fullstack developers, ideally with 3 years of experience, and knowing well NextJS, Typescript and good at CSS.
That's maybe you, and you are in her pile of CVs, great news !

The issue is that Alice doesn't know you yet.
For now, you are just one CV in a pile of CV, and the CV is a terrible marketing document of who you are.
I hope we can rid of this obsolete practice of CV-based hiring before I die.

But for now, all Alice has is that pile of CV, with you in the middle, and she wants to know more than just a bunch of buzzwords, list of companies, hard to understand experience, etc.
Oh you have a website, that's much better.
Well, it's a list of GitHub repositories.
Alas there is no README that explains what this is and why anyone should care.
And not, npm start # starts the server doesn't cut it as a README.

What do you think happens next ?

What are your best tips to create a developer portfolio ?

I know it's important, I don't really know how to do it well in practice.
Please share your tips right here !

Top comments (46)

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brian_curricular profile image
Brian G.

Hiring managers and interview panelists don't spend more than a couple minutes looking at a portfolio. Two reasons: 1) They don't have much time to evaluate you or your projects, and 2) most portfolios look the same (short bio, a few stock photos, links to some clone sites).

So in most cases, the portfolio evaluation is about two things: "Does the portfolio exist?" and "Is there anything off in the design or content of this portfolio so I can disqualify the candidate?"

A portfolio should be simple and functional - introduce yourself and your work, very few bells and whistles. Make the design crisp and with personality, but professional.

I'm working on a separate post about the types of projects developers should have in a portfolio. But if you've built something with active users, or to support a client's line of business, that beats a practice project any day.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

Do you have examples of portfolio done right ?
That would be super helpful.

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dev_kiran profile image
Kiran Naragund

@jmfayard

You can find best developer portfolios here at one place.

GitHub logo Kiran1689 / Awesome-Dev-Portfolios

This repository aims to collect portfolios and their repositories from developers around the world.

Awesome Dev Portfolios

Made With React built with love badge built by developers badge open source badge
check it out badge Vercel Deploy License Maintenance Website Price

Have you built or do you want to build an awesome developer portfolio? You are in the right place This repository aims to collect portfolios and their repositories from developers around the world.

How this will Help?πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ

This repo helps developers who wants to build portfolio by taking inspiration from already deployed Portfolios For those who already built, Showcase your Awesome Portfolio to the world.

Live Deployment🀩

Preview


Checkout the live deployment of Awesome Dev Portfolios at awesome-dev-portfolios.vercel.app Feel free to browse through the showcased portfolios for inspiration.

How to contribute or Add your Portfolio?😎

All contributions are welcome. Every contribution counts.

1. Adding Your Portfolio:πŸ’»

For Adding your Portfolio please follow the guidelines in the CONTRIBUTING file.

2. Bug Reports:πŸ›

If you face any issues or bugs while using this project, please feel free to create a new Issue in the Issues section.

3. Feature Requests:πŸ’‘

If you have…

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

Seems like a great resource, thank you !
awesome-dev-portfolios.vercel.app/...

Additional question while I am at it :
Getting from 0 to 1 is important and difficult.
Is there a couple of simple portfolios in that list that you would recommend from someone getting started ?

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dev_kiran profile image
Kiran Naragund

Glad you found the resource helpful. :)

For each portfolio, take a look at the tech stack used by the developer.. I recommend to choose a portfolio that aligns with the technologies you are most comfortable with...

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

I'm curious to see that article, feel free to share it here

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brian_curricular profile image
Brian G. • Edited

Finally got the piece published. Looking forward to your thoughts!
dev.to/brian_curricular/what-kinds...

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danielrendox profile image
Daniel Rendox

Looking forward to that article. Please, consider those ones who are looking for their first dev role too. Because portfolio projects are the critical factor for us.

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shinjixweb profile image
ShinjiX

Can my portfolio be included as the best? These are not clone projects and testimonials are real.

natepanares.vercel.app/

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laansday profile image
Tony Do

Impressive how you make everything looks so smooth. Well done!

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goldfinger profile image
Caleb

I think this is only true to an extent. I think recruiters don't look at your portfolio site, but hiring managers and panelists will and usually do. Having a clean site and ability to share your code of your site is helpful as well. Make sure you are following a11y accessibility and other standards.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

I think that's correct, there is a double audience

  • some agency will do a first pass selection of profiles that might makes sense. Here you will want to be clear in when it makes sense to contact you and straight to the point
  • once this pre selection is done, the hiring manager, meaning your potential future boss will want to get deeper, will have more time and knowledge to do so

So it's probably a good idea to adapt to this double audience

  • write a high level TLDR of who you are and what you want
  • interested? Nice, here are all the glory details
  • make it easy to connect with you
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colocodes profile image
Damian Demasi

I wrote about this a while ago, but I think the ideas are still valid today. To maximise the chances of getting hired, a portfolio needed to include:

0️⃣ A custom domain name. In my case, damiandemasi.com was available, so I took it. I also registered the colo.codes domain, as it's my nickname on social networks.

1️⃣ A catching hero section with immediate calls to action in the way of a β€œcontact me” button and an option to download my resume.

2️⃣ A projects section with at least two projects. This section should also include links to the live versions of the projects, as well as a GIF or video of the project being used (a sort of demo), and a description of the process I followed to create the project. The objective of all of this is to show how we approach coding challenges, the decisions we make, and how we deal with problems.

3️⃣ A blog section with at least three articles. These articles should display how we address the description of technical concepts, and how well (or bad) we communicate in English (when it is not our native language).

4️⃣ An about me section, with easy and clear ways to access our LinkedIn profile, as well as the resume, GitHub profile, and Twitter/X. Even though our resume could have been accessed from the hero section, I believe having redundancy (without spamming) is a way to ensure the important parts of the portfolio (like the resume) aren’t overlooked. In my case, I went full-on honest mode in this section and presented myself as I am. By doing so, I could push away employers that were not compatible with my personality and attract the ones that really liked how I am, thus speeding up the job selection process. I also briefly highlighted the technologies I was familiar with. In the end, this proved to be a correct approach, because both, the COO and CEO of the company that hired me mentioned that they loved how I presented myself online.

5️⃣ A social proof (reviews) section to demonstrate that we have a proven track record as an employee and team member. We can I use our LinkedIn recommendations as the source material for building this, and provide links to our LinkedIn profile so potential employers could see we are not being dishonest.

6️⃣ And finally, a contact section. In it, we could offer three different ways of contact: an email address, a LinkedIn link, and a completely functional form (using Netlify, for example). People have different preferences when it comes to contacting a potential employee, so we want to offer as much flexibility as feasible.

You can read more about this here: dev.to/colocodes/how-ive-got-a-web...

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

That's super helpful, thanks for sharing πŸ™

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j3ffjessie profile image
J3ffJessie

This is going to sound rough or horrible, but a portfolio doesn’t really matter. Hiring managers don’t have the time to look over your portfolio for a majority of positions. They just don’t. They have real work to do and they get your CV in an email from HR saying take a look and let me know if you want to interview them. They glance your CV to look for anything that immediately disqualifies and then your skills.

The more important thing to land a job when the market is how it is right now is networking. Intentionally connecting with individuals and cultivating conversation. Don’t just blast out connections and ask for help getting a job. Intentionally connect with people at companies you want to work for. Comment something you like about the company or product or something you are interested in about the company and actually build a connection with individuals. If you have skills that are good they can help connect you and refer you to positions. Cold applying and hoping do not work like they used to.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard • Edited

If I follow your reasoning, wouldn't it make sense to have a portfolio that is focused not on getting you the job interview, but on optimizing your chance to close it once you get a job interview ?
Meaning
1) you connect with individuals, cultivate conversations, ask what their challenges it, whatever, you get the job interview
2) during the job interview process, you ask to do it by visio, and when the HR people / hiring manager wants to know more about you, you have all the information ready on your website that's easy to communicate and makes you look good.

WDYT?

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j3ffjessie profile image
J3ffJessie

Hiring managers and HR don’t have time for looking at your portfolio compared to the hundreds of other applicants and probably multiple people they are interviewing. Usually the initial interview is a vibe test with the HR or recruiter anyway who has no idea about the position and wants to do a general check. When you actually get the the interview that counts it’s going to be with either the hiring manager or a delegate of their choosing who is taking time out of their work day to interview and they just want to ask questions to see if you know what you are doing or lied on the application enough to fool the HR. I have never once had an interviewer ask to see my portfolio or even acknowledge that I had one when I brought it up.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

I know, that's infuriating.
I have a dream that one day IT companies will take hiring seriously and get trained on how to do it properly.

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jeffchavez_dev profile image
Jeff Chavez

Agree. Portfolio establishes online presence and widens your network, right?

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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

When I was doing technical interviews, the only times I looked at someone's portfolio it was with an eye to disqualify someone. For example, if they did something obviously bad, like have a completely inaccessible page but list their passion for accessibility in their CV, that would be a big red flag.

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wesleycramblitt profile image
Wesley Cramblitt

I'm on a mission to build the BEST dev portfolio/resume with Skills Over Paper (free)

I'm still adding features, but currently the system:
-Aggregates complex skills from projects/experience and courses
-Vets your skills against common dev roles and awards certificates. For example "Senior AI Engineer" or "Junior Web Frontend Engineer"
-Allows you to export your resume in a ATS readable format (.pdf)
-Allows you to apply to gigs with lower competition if you pass vetting.

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theaccordance profile image
Joe Mainwaring

I have a informal portfolio of various artifacts I've created over time to present if I find the hiring manager is accepting of such materials. Examples of what I have in my portfolio:

  • Publicly available Github Projects which focus on demonstrating specific competencies, like TypesScript & 100% code coverage.
  • Documents I have authored providing guidance for adopting new technologies, or style guides to conform engineers work when implementing a feature
  • Policy documents for corporate governance
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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

The calendly link on your website seems like a very good idea too.
mainwaring.dev/

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maya_walk profile image
Maya Walker

I think it depends on the country, now there are a lot of vacancies in Europe due to companies moving from Ukraine due to the war

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard • Edited

I understand where that comes from but I respectfully disagree.

What happens is that when the job market is fine, you get in touch to a list of maybe 30 companies where they could be a fit, you have a discussion with 10 of them, and get a job offer at one of two or those.
When the job market is tough, you contact the same 30 companies but can only talk with 0 or 1 people.
So you have to broaden your search with companies that are less and less likely to be your ideal buyer.
At some point you get desperate and send every day 5 CV randomly.
That's where you get the impression that there is a usual number of unqualified applicants that far exceed their skill levels.

The alternative story that the average level of developer skills would have gone down brutally at the same pace as economy is hard to backup.

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danielrendox profile image
Daniel Rendox

There are two conflicting things here. On the one hand, I'd love to publish a production-level application but it takes lots of time and it should also be marketed somehow. On the other hand, I can make many simple pet projects but they do not provide real value and do not distinguish me from my competitors. πŸ€”

Doing both at the same time β€” that's the answer I see at the moment. And involving other people in the production level app development.

I think properly documenting the projects will have a lot of value. Creating good readmes and publishing blogs about their structure and why certain technical decisions were made.

Also, I found this video by @alexhyettdev helpful.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

Daniel, I think you should not create any new project.
You already have projects. Put everything on GitHub.
And here is the crucial step that will set you apart

Make sure that you have good READMEs that explain what you are trying to achieve, for whom, and why people should care

Taking you as an example

And for your next projects, follow the advice of GitHub's founder and try out Readme Drien Development

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danielrendox profile image
Daniel Rendox • Edited

Thanks, I'll definitely try RDD! But why do you think what I have now is enough?

  • RoutineTracker is indeed a decent portfolio project, and I planned to add a Readme for it soon.
  • PerformanceTracker is a super simple to-do-list-like app, which I made in three days (should've spent one) just for training purposes.
  • MontyHallProblem project was created with the old Java Swing library and has nothing to do with Android.

I don't feel confident with these projects πŸ˜…

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

Well right now, for the outside world, you don't have 3 projects, you have only one. You understand project 2) and 3) but nobody else does.

That's why I say that documenting what you already have is the low hanging fruit.

The step after that would be to brainstorm what other projects you have in mind, try to write their README and see which ones you find both doable and interesting. Then create repos with just the README, send the link to people and ask for people about what THEY find interesting and WHY ?

Quality work only matters when you can communicate about it.

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anmolbaranwal profile image
Anmol Baranwal

It's not about Portfolio. It's about whatever works.

I've had interviews with good startups without a portfolio, and always gets a reply, so I don't really think that's an issue.

I will make a portfolio till next month, but because I've a lot to showcase rather than just development which my GitHub can handle well.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington
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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

You are right, it's about showing your work in general.
Can you share what has worked best for us that others can use as a starting point?

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christiankozalla profile image
Christian Kozalla

I made my CV a static HTML page because I liked the idea that I can easily share it via a link, it looks fine on several different devices and I can easily keep it up to date without the need to fiddle with one thousand files (e.g CV-2023-01-06-final-02.pdf).. Later I got feedback from recruiters that a PDF version is mandatory for some companies, so I went ahead and added print media styles to my HTML but it was not perfect. So in the end I just re-made the CV in Canva and exported to PDF..

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

rxresu.me/ is a resume builder where you can focus on the content, have the layout change at will, share a link that's always the same, and where people who need a PDF can download it.

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highcenburg profile image
Vicente G. Reyes

It's not tough. It's just that there are very unqualified applicants applying to jobs that are way beyond their skill level.

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard

Many qualified people struggle to get jobs that are completely on their skill level

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highcenburg profile image
Vicente G. Reyes

Then I believe that's not on their skill level if they struggle

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jmfayard profile image
Jean-Michel πŸ•΅πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ Fayard • Edited

That's the point, it's a marketing issue.
In the real world having skills is not enough, you need to show your work so that the world knows about it.

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highcenburg profile image
Vicente G. Reyes

I agree. And not building side projects or not constantly learning could be a roadblock to job seekers

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marlys profile image
Marlys

Do you maintain a portfolio or how do you find jobs? Can you share?

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highcenburg profile image
Vicente G. Reyes

I don't have a portfolio but I do have side projects. I send my github account with open sourced projects. I also do have a blog which I send to the recruiters

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austincharles926 profile image
charles

It's tough out there, but your advice on having a developer portfolio is spot-on! Standing out in a competitive job market often begins with showcasing your skills and projects. A well-crafted portfolio can be that game-changer here, making you more appealing to hiring managers.

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bedbad profile image
bedbad • Edited

Don't care about what hiring managers and interview panelists and other HR industry swamp thinks and likes -
Just Start Working
Listen to users and ship daily
A direct instantiation to start that - listen to developers and issue, PR, ship OSS daily. Then tell other devs unapologetically what of their work you in this process in detail
Having some job offers gives you bargaining power - until they are expired
Having MRR or even sponsoring dev network who depend on your work gives you a whole new level more

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jeffchavez_dev profile image
Jeff Chavez

Following...

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rakoski___ profile image
Mateus

How should a CV ideally be made so that it bypasses the AI filter and can even end up on her table though?

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