Career /10 common mistakes to avoid when creating your portfolio

10 common mistakes to avoid when creating your portfolio

By Ven Dumagan, Marketing Assistant

If you’re in the creative field – be it design, social media, marketing or anything else in between, you’re gonna need something to showcase your work. That’s where a well-crafted portfolio comes in.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re revamping your portfolio or making one from scratch, they require a lot of time and effort. To make sure you get the most out of your efforts, here are 10 common mistakes to avoid. Take it from me, I used to be a recruiter for creatives and I know what hiring managers look for.


Overcrowding with projects

Remember, it’s quality over quantity. Hiring managers don’t care about the number of projects you made, they care how well you did them. Highlight the work that puts you and your skills in the best light and get rid of the rest.


Poor navigation and UX

Imagine if the dictionary wasn’t in alphabetical order. The chaos that would ensue! Riots would start. Industries would fall apart. Stocks would crash. The same goes for portfolios – if you don’t want to see the world burn, make sure it’s easy to navigate. If it’s too difficult to follow or you have too many distractions pulling the viewer every which way, you’re going to lose them. Keep it simple.


Not including all contact information

It’s such a small thing, but make sure to put your contact information in your portfolio. Imagine this – a potential client looks at your portfolio and they love your work, your vibe, your aura, everything! But… there’s no way for them to contact you. Most will move on and find someone else to do the job. Don’t be stingy on how they can contact you – add your email, contact number and socials.


Inconsistent visual design

This might be a challenge if you’ve worked with multiple brands that have vastly different aesthetics, but there’s always a way to keep things consistent. Nothing turns off a hiring manager more than a portfolio that looks all over the place. Keep things consistent by grouping your work: all the graphics in one spot, all the videos in another, etc.


Including outdated content

If you’ve done a ton of projects and you’re not sure where to start, maybe take a look at your most recent work. Focus on that and archive older projects. You’ve definitely improved over the course of your career and older projects might not showcase your current skills. Show that you’re up to date with the latest trends and tech with your newer stuff.


Weak project descriptions

Most creatives I’ve met think of a portfolio as an image-only tool. It’s definitely not. Clients want to see the process and learn how you came up with the output. If you’re looking to work in a senior position, how you did it is more important than what you did. Here’s an easy formula to follow:

  • Problem – What was the project trying to solve?
  • Goal – What measurable result was needed?
  • Idea – What was your solution?
  • Process – How did you go about it?
  • Result – What were the outcomes?
  • Feedback – What did the client say?


Ignoring the audience

I’ve met plenty of creatives who do this. Because you’re looking for work, you desperately put all of your projects in your portfolio, throwing things around, seeing what sticks, which is not the best approach. If you know the type of work you want to be doing, tailor your portfolio to reflect that.

I once met a designer who wanted to do more property design work. He had projects that showcased property but they were at the end of his portfolio, with his FMCG work at the top. He wasn’t reaching his ideal client with this layout. If you’re applying for work in property, FMCG, whatever your dream area is, make that evident through your portfolio. Showcase the type of work you want to keep doing and think about what the client would find important.


Lack of social proof and testimonials

So you have awesome work and you’ve caught the hiring manager’s eye. Just like with any service, the people hiring you want to check the reviews first. Follow up with your clients to get testimonials and feedback (and make sure you have their permission to use it in your portfolio). It’ll not only help you improve in your next project, it’ll also help solidify your reputation in the industry. Word travels fast. Remember to utilise the endorsement section on LinkedIn too!


No clear call to action

Don’t leave them hanging. Guide your viewer – make it obvious what you want them to do next and add a call to action. Here are some samples:

  • Let’s work together
  • View my latest work
  • Download my resume
  • Follow me on social media
  • Get a free quote


Creating a PDF portfolio

This is probably the biggest mistake we see in portfolios today. PDFs are static and when you update them, the copy that your potential clients have is out of date. You run the risk of them assessing you off an old version of your portfolio and not hiring you because they think you’re not across some skills or platforms. Do yourself a favour and use Canva or build yourself a website.


So if it’s time to update or create your portfolio, keep these common mistakes in mind – they’ll help guide you and keep you on the right track.


If you’re still looking for more tips, I’ve been personally looking at a ton of portfolio reviews from Flux Academy and getting inspiration from Jesse Nyberg. Check them out!


Once you’re finished, reach out! We work with a lot of creative businesses that’d be keen to take a look at your work. Get in touch today at