Pivot Your Portfolio: Website Tips for Job Hunting | Venessa Baez | Skillshare

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Pivot Your Portfolio: Website Tips for Job Hunting

teacher avatar Venessa Baez, Designer & Marketer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

18 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. Welcome to Pivot Your Portfolio

      0:50
    • 2. Your Class Project

      1:12
    • 3. Journey vs the Destination

      1:40
    • 4. Does it Spark Joy?

      1:14
    • 5. Choosing Your CMS

      0:58
    • 6. Picking A Theme

      1:20
    • 7. SEO Crash Course

      1:53
    • 8. Take. A. Break.

      0:52
    • 9. Your Portfolio Homepage

      1:16
    • 10. Portfolio Pages

      1:15
    • 11. Offering Freelance Services

      1:29
    • 12. Blurb it Out

      1:34
    • 13. Your About Page

      1:10
    • 14. Gaps in Your Portfolio

      1:16
    • 15. Supplementing Your Portfolio

      0:34
    • 16. Ask for Feedback from Others

      0:31
    • 17. Final Tip: Be Prepared

      0:23
    • 18. In Conclusion

      0:33
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About This Class

A large part of job hunting is learning how to market yourself and repackage your existing skillsets to show how they are relevant to the career you are pivoting toward. In this class, we will explore the tips and tricks that have helped me find new jobs and pivot in my career.

This class is geared toward beginning professional creatives that are just starting their career or for more experienced creatives who just want a quick refresher. 



Resources:

  • Career pivots: Before you start working towards making a career pivot, check out this article from skillcrush that walks you through exactly what it is. 
  • Catchafire.org: A great website for finding volunteer opportunities that may help you add new work to your portfolio. 
  • Spec Work: Understanding the difference between spec work and volunteer work will prevent you from wasting time on "opportunities" where you should be paid. Know your worth. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Venessa Baez

Designer & Marketer

Teacher

 

Hi there! If you're like me, you're passionate about using your design powers for good and being of service to society by creating things that help others engage their creative curiosity and learn new things. I think you'll like it here. 

I also believe compassion and balance are the keys to a more human future and personal growth.


My classes are built to help digital designers add new skills to their toolkit and stay inspired.

You can find my work at www.venessabaez.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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Transcripts

1. Welcome to Pivot Your Portfolio: Job hunting can be one of the hardest things that a creative will ever have to do, whether it's just time to move on up or you just want a new environment or maybe you've suddenly found yourself laid off and you really have no choice, but to start job hunting. My name is Venessa Baez-Jones and I am a graphic designer living and working in what is usually sunny Los Angeles, California, but it's rainy today. I've had to pivot in my career a few times. I've done everything from being a front-end web coder to being an email marketing specialist and I've picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. In this class, I'll teach you some of those tips and tricks that will hopefully help you pivot your portfolio to the new career or new job that you're looking for. Let's get started. 2. Your Class Project: Your project for this Skillshare class will be to show a before and after screenshot of your portfolio. Sometimes when you're making small incremental changes to something, it can be hard to feel like you're actually making any progress. Looking at this before and after, it will be a great way to see just how far you've come. To get started, scroll down, pause or finish listening to what I'm saying then pause, scroll down and click on "Create Project." In that project, you'll add your name and what you do or what you want to do as the title. Then in the project, add that before screenshot and any questions that you might have about updating your portfolio if you're looking for a constructive feedback. After you finish this class, you'll go back and upload the after screenshot. Don't forget to go through the other projects in this class and leave comments for your fellow classmates. One of the great things about Skillshare is the fact that we have a community here where people are able to leave feedback and learn how to leave feedback constructively. Let's get started. 3. Journey vs the Destination: Coffee. I do believe that the journey is more important than the destination. But if you start on a journey like job hunting, without having any destination in mind, you'll just end up lost in space. It's okay if you don't have it all together, a lot of us don't, especially early on in your career. Make a list of all of those jobs that you've ever actually wondered about. Then next to each of those careers, I want you to write down one or two questions that you have about those jobs in particular. For example, what skills do I actually need to have to work in these fields? Are there any specific tools or plug-ins that are very commonplace for these types of positions to be able to use on daily basis? Questions like that. Now you have a short list of questions that you can ask people in your network. If you don't know anybody who actually has these particular positions, maybe reach out to somebody who might know someone else. If you don't know anyone, sometimes just reaching out to complete strangers on LinkedIn who have these types of experiences under their belt can actually be really helpful. People are usually more than happy to help somebody who's a newbie in their field, because everybody has been there at some point. If you aren't able to get somebody to answer these questions for you, you at least have a list that you can go through to do the research on your own through Google, through books, through YouTube, through Skillshare and build those skills and that knowledge on your own. 4. Does it Spark Joy?: Maybe at this point, you do have a general idea of what it is that you want to do. What I recommend doing if you already have a creative portfolio, is to go through it and use a modified KonMari method. The KonMari method which was coined by Marie Kondo encourages cleaning and organizing by category and getting rid of things that no longer spark joy or bring happiness to your life. An example of this is, I did a lot of display ads early on in my career, those are like the really tiny ads that are just popping up everywhere on the internet and have a lot of texts and not enough room. I did a lot of those and I got really good at turning them around in a really fast time frame. But that's not what I wanted to do for the rest of my career. Since that no longer spark joy in my life, I removed those from my portfolio and express thankfulness for what those moments in my career taught me. So I recommend going through your portfolio with a fine-tooth comb and asking yourself about each of the items in it, if it brings joy or if it brings back good memories or if it's what you really want to do. It's like cleaning your closet, but cleaning out your portfolio, you might find a few gems that you completely forgot about. 5. Choosing Your CMS: There's more than a few options for your website CMS, or content management system. There's no right or wrong options, only what works best for you and your budget, the type of work you're showcasing, and what level of customization you want. Some options include Squarespace, popular option with many themes available, and the option to add custom code. Wix, a good option if you want a drag and drop site builder, also known as WYSIWYG editor. WordPress.org, a popular open source option with many plugins and themes on the market. For this, you'll need to have website hosting. Adobe Portfolio. This is free within Adobe subscription. You can build simple portfolio websites with this option. There isn't a lot of customization, but it's a good starting point. If you are able to develop your own themes, you may want to consider developing your own website or theme and use that itself as part of your portfolio. Most website platforms offer a trial version, so you can try it out and see if you like it before committing to a subscription. 6. Picking A Theme: There's few things you'll definitely want to have on your website, but it is a must to have a mobile responsive website. Google ranks websites higher in it's search results if the website is mobile responsive. You don't know what type of device a potential employer might be looking at your content on. Sometimes a portfolio theme isn't necessary. You may find the theme you like that isn't marketed as a portfolio or doesn't have the built-in option for it. You can build a portfolio using website pages. That's what I did on my own website. You'll want to be able to add a contact form to your website. It should be easy for clients or recruiters to contact you and having only an e-mail address or phone number on your website adds additional steps that aren't necessary. Writing blog content that is related to your line of work is a great way to show that you know your stuff. Take a look at what the themes blog looks like even if you don't plan on launching a blog immediately. Other nice to haves include e-commerce. If you plan to sell items in the future, they could be physical items or downloadables. Slideshows and galleries can help make your portfolio more visually appealing and interactive. Everyone loves clicking through a gallery. Private pages, you can use password protected pages to show clients their projects when it's time for review or show portfolio items that may have to be private because they haven't launched yet. It's not required, but it might be nice to have. 7. SEO Crash Course: Before we start developing the content for your website, let's do a quick overview of SEO or search engine optimization. A lot of these things aren't just good for search engines, but they're also good for showing that you pay attention to detail. Ideally, you want your website to show up when someone like a job recruiter searches for a certain phrase on the Internet. For example, freelance motion graphics designer in Clearwater, Florida. There are many, many building blocks that go into making it possible for your website to be one of the top organic search results for your desired phrase. But taking even the smallest steps can help you achieve this. Here's quick tips. One, headings. When used right, headings create visual hierarchy in your content, but which heading you use for what text can be important in telling search engines what your page is about. For example, you'll want to use an H1 or the largest heading only once for the most important text on the page. Be sure to include smaller subheadings throughout your content. Two, your title. A website's title is important. This tells the search engine spiders what the page is about. It also is what shows up in the tab of your internet browser when you're on a page. Three, alt text or alternative text. This should be applied to every image on your website. Not only does it help search engines know what the images are, if you describe them correctly, it will help anyone who may be using a screen reader to browse your website. Accessibility is good for SEO and for humanity. Four, your URL. Sometimes if you're rushing to build your site, you might not pay attention to your website URLs, and it's just a jumble of numbers and letters, or you duplicate an old page and it no longer matches what the content of the page is about. Make sure your whole URL makes sense to both the search engine and to someone who's browsing your website. 8. Take. A. Break.: I know I've said it before, but job hunting really can be stressful and overwhelming. So it's important to make sure you take a break. This project step is all about doing something that makes you happy and helps you reset because sometimes taking a break can help you see things from a new perspective or spark some new ideas that you didn't have. Take a break from this and go for a walk with your favorite tunes or listen to meditation podcast or do some yoga on a free YouTube video or brew your favorite cup of coffee or play video game or watch your favorite TV show for a few laughs. Remember not to beat yourself up over not being productive all the time. It's human nature to take breaks and it's also important for your own mental health and to spark ideas in the future. 9. Your Portfolio Homepage: Think of your portfolio website as the homepage of an e-commerce website. You might not be selling actual items, but you are trying to showcase your best work that will get people to Add to Cart. Different themes layout portfolios in different ways. How it looks depends on the style you're going for. Maybe it's a grid or a Masonry Style Layout. No matter what it is, you'll want to show the work that best represents you. Each listing should have a headline and thumbnail that links to the corresponding portfolio page. When titling portfolio items, some will always include the company name. For example Cool Beans brand identity, but if a company is lesser known, you might just want to be general with your title. For example, Coffee Shop brand identity. But you never want to be too general with your description and say, brand identity. Especially if you have more than one brand identity item in your portfolio. Audit the names of your portfolio items and your thumbnails. Is there any other way it can be worded or showcased that better fits the goal job you're trying to pivot towards? You don't want to have too many items on your portfolio. Nine is a nice average number that's usually recommended, but not required if you have few really strong items that showcase your work. You can even add a carousel or a slider to highlight a few of the especially important pieces at the top of the page. 10. Portfolio Pages: A portfolio item should be more than just showing pictures of your work. Each page should act as a case study. When someone is deciding whether or not to hire you for a job, they want to see your thinking process. Having more than just pictures of your work helps them to decide if you're a good match for their brand and business. Things to include are: who did you create this portfolio item for? What's the client name or company were working at when you completed it? If it was a personal passion project, be sure to mention that. It shows that you take initiative on your own and it shows your personal interests. A short blurb about the project. What exactly are they looking at? Was it a print flyer, a poster, an email, or digital ad? Be sure to point it out. Explain any important goal numbers that may have been achieved. For example, did your work help that client meet their sales quota? Include process shots like wireframes or sketches that help show your thinking process. Detail shots are also great, especially if you're doing any sort of illustration work or anything that requires attention to detail. Always remember to start the portfolio page with the hero image. Show your best finished piece first to draw them in and it also helps if someone's just skimming your site. 11. Offering Freelance Services: When I was first starting out in my design career, I was never sure if I should include the freelancing services that I offered on my portfolio, or if that was considered a no-no when you're applying to employee positions. Overall, anyone that I asked who was a hiring manager, actually encouraged including it. They like to see that a designer has business skills and was motivated to work with clients on their own. If you're choosing to offer some services, here are some tips on what to include. The best way to get the clients you want is to say up front what services you offer. Just saying you offer design, doesn't say as much as saying you offer sticker design, or a surface pattern design, or hand lettering. The more specific you get, the easier it is to catch those clients you really want. If you need help deciding what services to offer, start with writing down all the things you enjoy doing. Creating a mind map can be helpful. Ask yourself questions to narrow down your options. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing? What skills do you need to improve on? What do you actually have time to commit to? You'll want to offer services that you know you can successfully complete for your clients, and you'll want to make sure their projects you have time to commit to, and put your best work forward. You'll want to make sure it's something that you actually enjoy doing. You can build out this area later, but just having a simple services page with a few packages and services that you offer is a good place to start. 12. Blurb it Out: Yes, the dreaded tell me about yourself question. Having an elevator pitch, or a blurb, or a little bio about yourself that you have memorized and ready to go can actually be something that sets you apart from other people who are applying to the same position. I recommend starting with what you do and then go into why you do it. How does what you do help impact the company that you're applying for or a company that you would be working at. It can be difficult to come up with something on the first few tries, but it's okay to go back and continue editing it, and it'll evolve with time as you do. You can add it to your LinkedIn profile to set you apart from other LinkedIn profiles and have a few different version saved that you can use in cover letters. Something that a lot of people do that, I actually have on my own website, is I have a boiled down version that's like one or two sentences and you can put that on top of your portfolio site. When people land there, they see this big sentence declaring who you are and what you do, and they know exactly what they're looking at when they're going through your portfolio. Once you have a decent version ready to go, that you feel proud of, you can go ahead and add that to your project in this class and if you want somebody to take a look at it for spelling or grammatical, anything because sometimes you can miss a typo when you've been staring at for something long enough. Trust me, I've done it. Add that in a comment on there and we'll take a look at it. 13. Your About Page: If you're feeling particularly brave, you can actually take that bio and turn it into a full about me section on your website. An about page should be so much more than just a bio and a head shot. It's the client's way of meeting you virtually. It should feel like a warm handshake, rather than a dry author's bio on the back of an academic textbook. Include a professional photo of yourself. No mirror selfies here folks. If you're someone comfortable being on camera, this may be a good place to put up a quick sales video or even include a demo reel showing an overview of your work. I do want to add a disclaimer that there are a few different schools of thought when it comes to adding a picture and bio to your website. I've actually been told not to do that because it could lead to potential discrimination. But I did not heed that advice because I don't want to work somewhere where people are going to be discriminated against based off of what they look like. If it'll weed out some bad workplaces then so be it. Take what I say with a grain of salt, and make whatever decision you feel works best for you. 14. Gaps in Your Portfolio: As you're working on updating your portfolio, you might start to notice some gaps that need to be filled. For example, maybe you'd love to work at a pet food company one day but you don't have any portfolio items that are related to working with animals. If you don't have any ideas for personal projects that can fill these gaps, consider volunteering your services to a non-profit organization. One place you can find organizations that are looking for help is catchafire.org. Or you can do your research and contact local organizations in your area whose mission you love. In this example, you might want to consider reaching out to a pet shelter to volunteer some of your graphic design services or to help with their social media. It'll give you experience in the industry, grow your network, and you'll be able to make a difference using your creativity. It will also add additional work to your portfolio that might help you learn that career pivot that you're trying to make. Now, I will say, be wary of organizations that are doing spec work and not pro bono work. You'll want to do pro bono work for a volunteer-based non-profit organization, not spec work for a company that can actually afford your freelance rate. There is a difference between pro bono and spec work. I will add an article to the class description so that you can read more about that. 15. Supplementing Your Portfolio: Now just because you have a website, that doesn't mean you shouldn't have a portfolio on a community portfolio site like Behance, or Dribbble, or UpLabs. Sites like these provide a place where people can exchange ideas, share additional work they might not otherwise have on their website, and keep up with trends in the industry. Use these profiles to supplement your portfolio, but don't forget to upload content to them periodically. Whenever you add new portfolio items to your website, make it a point to also update your community profiles as well. 16. Ask for Feedback from Others: As with any creative endeavor, be sure to get feedback from others. Sometimes we can get so close to our work as designers that it's hard to step back and see the flaws. Ask other professionals in your industry for a portfolio review, or hop on a Skype call with someone across the country. Getting a professional opinion is important, because they can share what's worked for them, or something you might have missed. Just remember to return the favor when a newbie reaches out to you in the future, and it'll happen eventually. 17. Final Tip: Be Prepared: Even if you aren't looking for a job or you don't think you'll be looking for work, maintain your portfolio and update it at least quarterly. This isn't to sound negative, but anything can happen from a massive pandemic that leads to a lay off, which is what happened to me, to a recruiter at your dream company just randomly messaging you on LinkedIn out of the blue. Always be prepared and back up your portfolio items frequently. 18. In Conclusion: You've finished updating your website. Congratulations. Create a status on your favorite social media letting your network know that you've updated your website. Don't forget to create a portfolio item of your newly redesigned website and include that on your supplemental portfolios. If you've identified skills that you need to add to your job hunt, take some other Skillshare classes that will help. I don't know how to end this. Bye.