If you’re trying to get hired as a developer, it’s essential that you show potential employers that you are capable of producing high quality code. One way to do this is by having a coding project portfolio that you can use to demonstrate your skills and showcase your talents.
Even if you’ve never been paid to write a line of code, you can still compile a code portfolio that shows off your talents and gives potential employers a view into the kind of work you can produce.
What should go into a coding portfolio? What kinds of projects and elements should you include in it? In this article, you’ll learn about what you can include in a portfolio project that will help you to make a good first impression and move toward the coding career you want.
Why Make A Coding Portfolio?
Hiring professionals can be a challenge. Employers invest thousands of dollars into advertising jobs, screening candidates, conducting interviews, and extending offers. So they want to make sure that the people they hire are going to be successful in their role.
A coding portfolio is your way of making a hiring manager’s job simple. When they can see for themselves what sort of projects you’re capable of, it makes their decision that much easier. By including relevant samples of your work, you’ll show them that hiring you is worth it.
What if you’re looking for your first development job, and you’ve never had a paid coding project before? Or what if you’re not allowed to share examples of your work from previous jobs? The answer is simple -- create your own projects to include in your portfolio.
In some professions, this is called “spec work” -- short for “speculative”. For example, someone who wants to get into advertising may create a mock ad campaign for a well-known brand. You can do the same with a coding project. Look for a problem that needs to be solved and create your own app or program to do so.
Another good way to build a code portfolio is to get involved in the open source community. If you contribute to an open source project, be sure to include that in your portfolio as well. Your portfolio projects don’t have to be big or complicated. They just need to show an interviewer that you have the skills for the job you’re seeking.
Make Your Portfolio Projects Relevant
The most important thing that you can include in your code portfolio is something that speaks to the person you’re trying to connect with. This simply means that you should include projects that are relevant to the job you’re applying to. If you are applying to be a front-end web developer, then your project should focus on that. If you would like to get into data science, however, you should include a project that highlights those skills.
This isn’t to say that your portfolio can’t include other types of projects. In some cases, it does make sense to include a variety of projects. But your portfolio should be well-curated so that an interviewer or recruiter can easily see the skills that you have to offer.
Build A Custom Project For The Job You Want
A bit of creativity can go a long way. If you are interested in a specific job or a particular field, look through the descriptions and requirements for jobs you would like to have. Then develop your own project that showcases the specific skills that are relevant to that particular position. This will help to make your portfolio stand out from others that may be more generic -- and could be the edge you need to land an interview.
Make Your Code Examples Detailed -- But Not Confusing
Another important element of a good portfolio project is to make sure you have the right amount of detail. Too little detail could leave the reader confused about how the project is relevant to the job. But too much detail could also be confusing or overwhelming.
The interviewer should be able to see immediately how the project is relevant to the position you are applying for. You can do this by clearly introducing the project, including its goals, timeline, and outcome. Also include a list of the languages, frameworks, and technologies that you used to create the project -- but again, don’t go into too much detail when it’s not necessary.
You should also include a brief written description of your code and how it works. Explain why you chose the languages or frameworks that you used. Show how the libraries you chose were the right ones for your project. This is important to show that you put thought into the design of your project, and helps show that you have the skills to solve other problems that may come your way.
Highlight Your Creative Solutions
In your portfolio projects, you should be sure to highlight any creative ways that you solved problems you encountered. Maybe you figured out how to read data from a device that doesn’t have a public API. Or you ran into a bug but found an interesting way to work around it. Be sure to include that kind of information in your portfolio in your written description.
Include a Video Walkthrough
Another creative thing you can include in your code example is a video explanation of your code. Using a screen recorder app, step through your project and how it works. This will add another layer to your portfolio and show potential employers that you not only know how to code, but that you know how your project works and why things are done the way they are.
Keep Your Portfolio Professional And Honest
While this should go without saying, you should treat your portfolio like you would a resumé, CV, or job application cover letter. Don’t include anything that you wouldn’t want a future employer to see that would influence their decision to hire you.
While many big tech companies and startups boast a “work hard, play hard” atmosphere that tolerates pranks, jokes, and so on, many other coding jobs are with other companies that are much more formal. So when creating a public portfolio, it’s better to keep things serious and professional as much as possible to maximize your chances of success.
Another important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your portfolio is honest. While it can be tempting to exaggerate your experience to make yourself look better, this can hurt you in the long run. If it’s found out later that you lied about your experience, you will likely lose that job and potentially your career.
So be sure not to plagiarize anything in your portfolio or be dishonest about your coding experience. If you collaborated on a project, be honest about your role and your contributions to it.
Don’t think that this will hurt your chances of landing a job. Many companies are more than willing to hire entry-level or junior programmers and provide on-the-job training. If you’re honest about your experience level, you’ll be able to find a job that matches your current skills and that can help you to grow in your career more quickly.
Next Steps: Building A Code Portfolio
Do you need to brush up on your coding knowledge or learn a new programming language? If so, head over the SoloLearn Courses page to start learning today. With our free courses, you’ll learn the skills you need to build a solid coding portfolio and launch your career as a developer. Be sure to check out our mobile app to keep learning and practicing on the go.
With the right training and good portfolio projects, you’ll be ready to get started on your coding career journey.