While your CV or resume is part of the overall picture, a programming portfolio must showcase all of your marketable skills, talents, and experiences. A high-quality, well-thought-out portfolio can make all the difference to potential employers by providing them with a clear picture of how you can add value to their studios. The best way to set up a portfolio is on your own professional website, where you can show off your art or animation abilities and build your personal brand. Here are seven tips for building an impactful programming portfolio that will impress employers and programming recruiters:
1) Portfolio Website Layout
Choosing a design can be a little challenging, but remember that nothing is created in a vacuum. There are thousands of website templates available online, and you can find examples by performing a simple online photo search for “web templates.” Once you have settled on a design, your portfolio website should be set up as follows:
- A “Home” page that provides an overview of you and your abilities.
- An “About Me” page with your bio that goes into clear and precise detail on your skills, abilities, education, and experience. The bio should be written in the third person so it reads as if a third party wrote it.
- A “Projects” page to showcase all of your work. Don’t make the mistake of only showing the results at the end of your successfully created projects. Everyone makes missteps and has had at least one failure. Showing what went wrong, why, how you fixed the problem, and what the end result was will make you come across as more genuine and showcase your problem-solving abilities. Make the project displays as riveting as possible.
- The “Contact” page should be simple and uncluttered. Use an email contact form rather than posting your email address to prevent getting a cargo ship full of nonsense spam emails.
2) Understanding Your Target
You must know what your target is before you can hit it. Understanding your audience will help you create a portfolio that will speak directly to the target audience of recruiters for game jobs. This is fairly easy to accomplish by asking yourself what is the task and purpose of the portfolio, meaning, who is the portfolio mainly being designed to reach? For example, if the purpose of your portfolio is to move up from a junior developer to a senior-level programming position, you will need to design your 3D artist portfolio to show you are ready to make that jump. Trying to make your portfolio a generic design to appeal to every employer and recruiter will guarantee that it will impress no one.
3) Keep it Simple
Ernest Hemingway said the first draft of anything is garbage. Once you have your portfolio to the point where you can say it is done, it is time to think about what needs to be removed. The best rule to follow is that if something does not add to the portfolio, it detracts from it. Focus on removing anything that does not provide worth to your target audience and anything that may reduce your credibility. Here is a summary of things to remove:
- Tutorials tend to reduce credibility as they do not show what you can do but only what you may have duplicated from another source.
- Projects not related to your target audience and goal.
4) Be Original
While using a template and even getting design inspiration from another website is a great way to get started, be sure your portfolio does not look too much like another 3D Artist. This can happen when using a template without making any or enough customization. Bear in mind throughout the design process that you are building your portfolio to show video game recruiters what you are capable of creating, not what you are capable of copying. If your website looks too much like others, you are defeating the entire purpose of building it in the first place.
5) Customized Domain Name
You must have a custom domain name, as using a free website and domain with a “somewebhost.com/245361” URL will not impress anyone. In fact, it will send a very unprofessional message to clients, employers, and recruiters looking to fill programming jobs. While you can get a subdomain for each separate project, an easier way is to create a separate subpage for each one under the “Projects” page.
6) Personalized Email Address
You must also have a personalized and dedicated email address tied to your domain. Using a Gmail address for a business is unprofessional. Domain names with at least one included email address can be had for less than $20 per year by doing a simple online search for “cheap web hosts with email.”
7) Display Your Personality
One of the most surefire ways of preventing your portfolio from looking the same as someone else’s is to let your unique personality shine through. Don’t talk about generic things that everyone else and their cousins do, such as you like to play video games in your spare time. Instead, talk about your programming accomplishments, the background of each project, how you first became interested in each one, and what you learned along the way. Remember that recruiters are people who like working with others they feel some sort of kinship to. Because most portfolios are just a generic hot mess, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to make a significant impact, and showing that you are a unique and exciting person will make the most video game recruiters notice.
Successfully landing a 3D Artist position is a big undertaking and creating an effective portfolio requires some major effort. A well-thought-out and executed portfolio will reap big rewards when looking for programming jobs by showcasing your talents. However, your portfolio website must be looked at as only one tool that can help steer your career by showcasing your skills through your previous projects. Your portfolio must not be looked at as a quick and easy stand-alone way to secure interviews for game programmer jobs on its own. You will still need to do the legwork in order to get prospective employers to see it.
To help increase your odds when looking for 3D Artist jobs, candidates should strongly consider working with a video game recruiter like DAM. As the top video game recruiting firm in the United States, working with many of the top studios across the country and other parts of the world, DAM is an invaluable resource for job candidates. DAM has access to otherwise unpublished listings of job openings and never charge a fee to job seekers. DAM also offers free help with interview preparation and career guidance. You can contact DAM through their website at DamAgents.com.