Monday, June 4, 2012

Lulu's Mailbag: Are internet portfolios a good idea?

G. sent in the following question:

I would really like to have your opinion on the idea of internet portfolios. I created one years ago, and along with my physical portfolio, it was a great help. So many companies just seem to want work samples and that makes me think of a few well- chosen PDFs of projects that I have done. Of course the physical is a no-brainer, but is the digital one needed as well? 

G., I give a 100% thumbs up to internet portfolios, especially to those starting out in architecture.  It's a great way to get your foot in the door without wasting money on expensive printing and mailing.  A hiring manager or architect can click a link and see what kind of work you (can) do, and it tells them quickly if you're what they're looking for. Seeing a recent online portfolio made me want to bring in a recent interviewee, whom we ended up hiring.

If firms are asking for hard copies of your work, then it makes sense to think about what best describes your work.  Bring your two or three best projects in a format no larger than 11" x 17" (or A3 sheets for my international readers), and if you've worked in an actual firm, then I advise bringing a half-size set of a project you worked on or even renderings or photos of some built projects.

The physical examples are good to have for the actual interview, but the digital portfolio can help you get the foot in the door that you need in a tough market.

If you have a question or topic for me, feel free to leave it in the comments or via my email in the sidebar.  Thanks!


  1. I was recently asked to give my opinion between 2 applicants at our company. Both had very good resumes, well composed and complete. But, what set one above the other was a link included to her online portfolio - I opened that up and instantly she had my nod. As you've said it helped open the door to one applicant above another because I could instantly see what they could offer versus another applicant. My only advice is to make sure what you put up online is well composed and easy to use, test it various browsers to insure everyone gets the same experience, and don't use flash ... if you're trying to get the attention of a hiring manager is likely they'll be viewing your resume/portfolio on their phone and flash + mobile don't play nice.

  2. Glad you posted this! Web portfolios are a great way for just about anyone (especially new architects) to display their work for prospective employers. If you're in a design-related field, then of course people will want to see your work before they even call for the interview. Naturally, you won't want to show all your cards. A tech writer colleague puts 200x200 images of some projects on her site, and fuzzes them out just a little so people won't visit her URL and promptly steal her ideas.

  3. Another note: My colleague Jon Anscher just posted on tools for building one's own web portfolio:

    He covers tools from basic to advanced, and although many of his readers are technical writers, I think architecture interns will find some good info in there, too. I'd never heard of Behance for portfolios until I read the post.

    Hope this helps!