The Porfolio-less Professional

We live in an age that is all about showing off. Your Dribbble and GitHub accounts are there – also – for that reason. And for that very reason a lot of companies value your Dribbble and GitHub accounts over your CVs and résumés.

But what if your role, experience, skills and competencies can’t be summarised by showing off digital artefacts?

Welcome to the world of portfolio-less professional.

I’m one of those, because I stand at an intersection where:

  • I have a degree in Economics, but I’m no CEO-CFO-COO
  • I can do graphic design work, but I’m not a trained graphic design
  • I can write code, but since I switched many kinds of languages and platforms over the years, I’m not headed to be your senior developer
  • I happen to manage teams and projects, but I’ve never been “just” a project manager

I can’t honestly come up with meaningful deliverables, artefacts that can aptly describe my value inside a company. And then again: why on Earth I should be compared with people that come up with portfolio filled with unsolicited redesign?

So, what should we do? My take is: focus on process, value creation and willingness to learn.

It may sound cheesy and naïve, but if what you deliver is problem finding and problem solving at different stages, you shouldn’t care about showing off a screenshot of the last app you worked on — I did that, many times, please, don’t.

Some of us have a job that is heavily deliverable-oriented: UI designers deliver interfaces as developers deliver code. For these people, putting together a portfolio of digital artefacts is relatively easy even if I would argue that focus on process, value creation and willingness to learn is valuable for them too.

In one of my many tentative portfolios, I once put the paragraph “Lessons learned” for each of the projects I listed: making your learning process explicit highlights your ability to understand when, why and how things went right or wrong.

It’s time to get out from the fairy-tale portfolio, where each project is a sugar-coated success where you come out as the hero who saved the day: shit happens every single day and it’s how you go through it that makes you worthy for your next company.

Ditch the shiny portfolio, focus on problems you found or that you helped solving. Your next role is not about your intrinsic features but about the work you help get done.