by Lisa Thompson

You've decided to market yourself with an online portfolio. You've figured out what to include and which technology to use. That means you're good to go, right? Not so fast. There are some simple mistakes you should avoid at all costs.


  • Rambling text. My college professors' favorite catchphrase was "be succinct." This is even more important online. Write clearly and concisely. Say what you need to say in as few words as you can say it. And no more.
  • Cluttered pages. Avoid cramming too much content (text or graphics) on pages. This makes is difficult to know what to look at first and reduces readability. And that means visitors may leave before exploring further. If you're using a free or subscription-based portfolio, you may have little control over this (but hopefully the designers took it into consideration). If you're building your own, learn how to use "white or negative space" to your advantage.
  • Confusing navigation. If you're designing your own site, then this is for you (yes, you!). If your visitors can't figure out what to click on, where to go, or where they are in your site, they…will…leave. Your site should showcase your skills and personality, but navigation is not the place to do it.
  • Misplaced innovation. It's tempting to use cutting-edge web technology to create a "whiz-bang" portfolio. But this can easily backfire if few people can run that technology. It can also result in a gaudy and visually confusing portfolio. Ideally, the look of your portfolio shouldn't clash with your work samples. So keep it simple and show restraint. Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.
  • Outdated content. Review and update your portfolio regularly—even if you aren't currently looking for a job. The last thing you want is to have to rush an update or exclude recent accomplishments if you suddenly find yourself out of work or unexpectedly find that dream job.


Now you're good to go. Make sure you also include the web address to your portfolio on all job search communication. Potential employers won't visit your portfolio if you keep it a secret. Online portfolios are a great way to allow employers to view your work BEFORE they decided whom to interview. And that might just tip the scales in your favor.


For more portfolio tips (especially if you're designing your own), visit: