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Programmers - how to create a stand-out portfolio

01/01/17

Whether you’re just breaking into the industry or you’re a seasoned professional, an up-to-date coding portfolio is really beneficial when it comes to securing your next programming job. A good portfolio shows off your skillset and lets employers see the great work and projects you’ve been involved in, highlighting technical skills that you can’t always expand on in your CV. So with studio demand for coding portfolios increasing and developers looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd, what can you do to ensure your portfolio is the best it can be?

You can never have too much or too little experience to have a portfolio
The first step to perfecting your portfolio is simple: You need to have one. Just ask Will Hudson, an Amiqus Recruitment Consultant, who says, “You never know when you will be presented with an amazing opportunity for a new role, even when you’re not looking for a job.”

It’s easy to think that you have too much or too little experience to put together a decent portfolio, however Liam Durkan, one of our Resource Consultants believes both graduates and those with years of experience in the industry should be continually building and reviewing their portfolio.

“For graduates it’s very important to have a portfolio for studios and recruiters to use as a starting point to gauge skills and ability levels for someone who doesn’t have any work experience at this stage of their career. For the more experienced programmers it’s useful as we can see more about their skillset - for example, if you’re a tech coder did you create tools or work on game engines?”
The portfolio is your opportunity to take stock of your work over the years and ensure your best and most interesting examples are kept in one place. Hiring managers are increasingly looking to the portfolio before the CV when looking for talent, so make sure yours is giving the best possible representation of your work. 

programmers analysing graph

Add detail to highlight your experience

The big advantage a portfolio gives you over and above a CV is that it allows you to show practical examples of your technical skills. It’s also important to add detail on projects you’ve contributed to, how you tackled problems and what you learnt from particular experiences.

“It’s great to see detailed portfolios with screenshots or videos and information about the project,” says Liam. “This is useful for finding out more about the person themselves, including why they chose particular projects and what challenges they faced.” “If you did something complicated which was out of your comfort zone but achieved a great result, then this is the place to mention it and show what you learned,” adds Will. Links to an online CV and examples of your work (such as sample code) are welcome additions to any portfolio, but be sure to double check all your spelling and syntax is correct and working as it should. 

Showcase your skills
It always pays to demonstrate your key programming skills, particularly those highly desirable ones such as C++, C# and your knowledge of game engines. Programmers should also keep up to date with the latest technology and trends in this ever-changing industry, regardless of how new or experienced you are. For example, at the moment we’re particularly impressed by good looking portfolios that nod to new technologies such as virtual reality and cross platform tech such as Unity and UE4.

Will recommends keeping your project list current and being clear on your contribution to each game; “If we see a candidate who has worked on an amazing game which has been released but there is no evidence of it, it doesn’t tell us what the candidate actually did,” he says. “User experience is important too. I recommend giving a portfolio to someone who isn’t used to reviewing work and seeing how easy it is for them to use and navigate through“.

Like most job application tools, your portfolio should be tailored to the role you’re applying for. Employers will likely skip less relevant projects or experience and will look for skillsets that directly match their positions, so don’t be afraid to edit your portfolio when you apply for new roles. Recruiters and employers alike appreciate CVs and portfolios that are clear and concise, so a little editing goes a long way here. 

“The portfolio is your chance to really show off your skills. If you’ve built a game engine, show it off! If you’ve built a backend network to highlight leaderboards and online multiplayer features, show it off! Hiring managers and recruiters want to be wowed when they open your portfolio” - Will Hudson

 
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