Landing any job without an excellent coding portfolio is difficult, especially if you are trying to land your first job. A good portfolio allows a recruiter to see what you can do behind a computer. Having a good resume and being able to interview well certainly doesn’t hurt your chances, however, it’s the coding portfolio that will get your foot in the door.
1- Include your best work
A coding portfolio is often the first thing an employer will see with your name attached to it, so you want it to scream HIRE ME. If you are an experienced coder, use work you are proud of and you feel showcases your unique skills as a coder. Chances are, if you are proud of it, an employer will be impressed as well. For new coders, using a coding project that you completed in school is perfectly acceptable. Just make sure to polish the project up before putting it in your portfolio.
2- Include projects done outside of work
Including extracurricular projects you have completed outside of school or work is a great way to beef up your coding portfolio. New coders looking for a job often struggle to find projects they feel showcase the skills they have learned. Doing projects just for the heck of it is a great way to show precisely what you can accomplish behind a computer. An added advantage of doing an at home project is the ability to target a certain employer or job with your project. A good extracurricular project to start with is redesigning Google’s home page. It leaves plenty of room to showcase your creativity and skills.
3- Showcase your work
A coding portfolio is a showcase of the work you have done. If your coding project was designing a website, include a link to that website. An employer looking at the code you’ve written is one thing; experiencing it is another. A recruiter is much more likely to remember your name if it is associated with a beautifully designed website or smoothly running app. You are not the only person applying for job; a recruiter sees hundreds of applications everyday, so being able to stick out from the crowd is important.
4- Effectively describe your work
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For your coding portfolio to make any sense to a potential employer, you need to be sure to describe a few things: what the goal of each project was, how you arrived at that goal, and even some problems you encountered along the way. Showing a recruiter you can communicate effectively is essential for a good portfolio. As a coder, you have to explain what and why you are doing things to clients, bosses, and coworkers. Your coding portfolio is the perfect place to showcase your communication abilities alongside your coding skills.
5- Avoid the major pitfalls
There are several errors in a coding portfolio that set off warning bells in a recruiters mind. Including code done by other people will cause a recruiter to drop you faster than you can say, “Oops.” For some projects, you will have to include code written by other people– which is fine, as long as you make sure to note which code is theirs and which is yours. Along with noting what code belongs to who, write a brief explanation of why you thought it was necessary to include their code. The next major pitfall is not describing your projects well. The importance of explaining your work was already mentioned above, but it’s getting mentioned here again to make sure you realize just how important it is. If an employer sees poor communication in a portfolio, they assume you will have poor communication in the workplace.
6- Update your portfolio as you work
Congratulations! You’ve landed your first job, but a coding portfolio is not a one-time thing. It will be much easier on you and your hairline to update your coding portfolio as you complete new projects rather than trying to remember where you saved a project a few months or even years later. It will be easier to describe the project while it is fresh in your mind, as well. Having a portfolio that has been continually updated will show an employer that you are constantly working to improve yourself.
You have put countless hours developing and perfecting your coding skills. Spend a few more hours designing your portfolio by following the steps in this article. First, make sure to include a few important projects. Then, effectively describe the goals and purpose of your work. Finally, avoid any major portfolio pitfalls, and you are sure to be landing jobs in no time!
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