You have landed a job interview or an important client meeting and you are ready to get to work, that is until they ask to see your portfolio. Problem is, you don’t have one. But the only reason you don’t have one is because no one will give you the chance to build one. It’s a classic chicken or the egg scenario–and it’s time to take matters into your own hands! You can build a portfolio before you book your first paid job or when you are just starting out your career. It will take a lot of hard work and some hustling, but you can do it!
Chances are, at some point in your education, whether through a university or training program, you had to do some sort of project to prove your skills. Continue your education and build your portfolio by signing up for inexpensive classes online or at a community college. Prove to others that you are always willing to learn and then show them the proof in your freshly made portfolio.
Start a blog, social media account, or online shop that proves your skills. By taking initiative, you will impress potential employers and clients. Plus, you will have evidence of the skills you are trying to sell. Take your time and be careful to make sure you treat your personal projects as you would any professional project.
It might sting at first to give away your hard work for free, but when first starting out, it can be necessary. Do favors for family and friends who you know will back you up when a client comes knocking for a reference. The same goes for a big name or a company who can provide you with name recognition, exposure, or opportunities to prove yourself. It will sting to work for free, or very inexpensively, for a professional organization, but it can do wonders for building your portfolio. Just make sure that the reward is worth the work and that you aren’t being taken advantage of.
The most important thing you can learn to advance your career is how to sell yourself. You need to be able to confidently describe what you can bring to the table at the drop of the hat. All it takes to get started is convincing one person you can do the job and when you do, your portfolio will start growing in no time.
The best thing you can do to find work, especially while trying to build a portfolio is to network. By putting yourself out there and building a network, you will not only meet potential clients and employers, but possible collaborators. If you are still learning, try assisting someone with more experience. You can learn a lot by shadowing someone whose career you admire and if you prove yourself, you will be able to assist in projects you can use in your portfolio.
How did you build your portfolio when you were first starting your career? Share with us how you did it & what kind of things you included in the comments!
featured image credit: Stock That Rocks