Jan 07, 2021

An effective product design portfolio – Constraint

“How can I make a portfolio if I don’t have any project?” A reader asked.

Continuing on my previous writing. Many newcomers who want to enter the industry have many constraints. Let’s explore a few common constraints and how to navigate through them.


What if I don’t have any previous projects?

This often a challenge for newcomers or students. If by any chance you’re in this position and is looking for a junior role. I’d recommend making a concept-project as your portfolio. This will be a way to be stand out. Make sure you describe the problem you have and your rationale behind the decision. Would be great if you learn how to write a hypothesis.

At this rate, the recruiter aware that you are still learning. Normally, there is someone in their team who will manage or coach you to grow. The recruiter will want to see candidate’s potential based on their willingness and eagerness to learn.

Here’s an example of my concept-project that got me hired ~5 years ago. I started because I wanted to exercise my problem solving skill. What problem you see around you? How do you solve it? Why don’t you make a portfolio for that?


What if my project didn’t have a good outcome?

Not all of my projects went well, too. If the recruiter is mature enough, they will understand that not all projects will always be successful.

What you can do is to share your learning. Try to reflect, what did you wish you could do differently? When I got my first job, we didn’t have a researcher, so I put my reflection like so: “We weren’t sure if that’s the right customer problem, I wish we could had the research but we can’t due to the limitation.”

Reflective is one of the key to grow. If the recruiter turned that down, that’s possible for the best. You don’t want to work in a culture that doesn’t accept failure.


What if my project is under NDA?

You can still build your portfolio! Just don’t share it publicly. I’ve seen many designers build a private portfolio and will show it privately to the recruiter only when needed.

If your NDA is only a partial NDA, let’s say you can’t show the research part. Again, build your portfolio and state it explicitly if you can’t show the research publicly but can make it available by request.


Note: Of course portfolio is great, but this is not a guarantee to get you hired. But it’s a tool to make yourself standout from the competition.

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