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Building a successful portfolio website [summary]

Vlad Solokha
Passionate about applying technology to make life easier, simpler, and more autonomous. Striving to build applications, user-interfaces, and websites to help companies grow.
・3 min read

Full-Time software development job seekers

If you're looking for a full-time software development job and don't necessarily have a degree in CS or a related field. Here are some tips for how to stand out from the large number of applicants trying to find similar jobs.
  1. A portfolio website that stands out and is unique to who you are is your next best bet for landing that software development job. Your website is your gateway to, "show employers that you are competent at building stuff." Include attributes that demo your competence, enthusiasm, telling your story, humility and grit (easy to mentor), and sprinkles or hero details.

  2. You need an “about me” section that is specifically unique to you (cannot be applied to everyone) and tells the story of your experience and personality as a developer. It should have a catch or word that is memorable.

  3. You need 2 or 3 unique project that you built yourself from start to finish. Deeper projects are better than MVPs or unfinished works.
    *Consider a project that:
    **solves a specific niche problem you have and build it from start to finish
    **is alive, live, deployed, and/or being used
    **can be an open-source contribution
    **can be a blog (should have > 5 posts)

  4. Projects should link to separate pages on your website and guide the reader through your work. Write about starting, struggles, inspirations, features, overcoming getting stuck, solving bugs. Tell your story about your work.
    Consider the order of the story:
    *Introduction- summary, functions, features, tech used, demo link, source code.
    *Purpose and goal- why, importance, outcomes, initial designs, other planning to help the narrative.
    *Spotlight- best features, most work, proud of stuff, technical hurtles, solutions (developer in mind)
    *Current status (optional) - who, why, what is used.
    *Lessons learned- can be non-technical, frameworks, decisions explanations, how is your work affected?
    Project page should be easy to skim. Avoid long paragraphs. Avoid stuffy and corporate tone or language.

  5. A contact me embedded form or contact information using a mailto link.

When Building

Your portfolio should take into consideration:

*Thoughtful and inspirational design. It should be hard to differentiate your design from the template you copied it from.
*Create from scratch using known frameworks or tools or vanilla it (HTML, CSS, JS). Avoid no-code site creators.
*Connect it to your own domain name and host using some service like Netlify.
*Create some hero details or personal touches to make your portfolio engaging and pleasing to view. Try adding an interaction where it isn’t expected (surprise). Flourish, animate.
*Include accessibility features.
*Use a natural tone, like spoken language.

Disclaimers:

Your projects are more impressive than you think. Don’t undervalue your works. Market them in a positive light. Trivial or mundane details/features of your project can be impressive to employers.

Promote:

As part of application, in networking efforts (GitHub, LinkedIn, Dev.to, email footers), cover letters.

Cover letters:

Write then using conversation tone, tell a unique and specific story. It should be written uniquely to the company you’re applying to. Talk about how you fit in the company culture and with their values.

Adapted from Josh Comeau's book "Building an Effective Dev Portfolio"
https://www.joshwcomeau.com/effective-portfolio/

Let me know what you think of this in the comments below!

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