You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.
As we talked about earlier, generally it helps to be very tailored and specific with your job search and your portfolio as well. But if you’ve already done the work, if you’ve created and organized your case studies, then you should also consider promoting your work in other places. Think about your online site as a landing hub—a place where you have fine control over what to show. Within this hub you have content about yourself, your curated work in the form of a portfolio, as well as any other side projects you’re working on that make you stand out.
Figure: Your Online Portfolio Is a Hub
Your online portfolio as a landing hub.
To get visitors in, there are many channels that exist to promote online portfolios—Dribbble, Behance, Squarespace, LinkedIn. Consider using all of them. In the next chapter we’ll talk about how you can use passive and active strategies to entice recruiters and put part of the job search on autopilot.
important If you build it, they won’t (necessarily) come. That’s why promoting your work is so important. Once you’ve created your site and put your portfolio together, it’s time to capitalize on your effort by showing it on other online platforms.
Bestfolios curates top portfolios from recent grads and seasoned pros working at major tech companies. Oftentimes recruiters look through Bestfolios searching for talent, and I’ve heard a few of my friends find success with it. If you have a site that’s visually compelling, submit it. If you’re looking for portfolio inspiration, it’s a good place to visit.
The disadvantage of Bestfolios (and other gallery sites in general) is that you’ll be competing against many other qualified designers. But since this site is highly curated and generally not every portfolio gets through, it’s still a good way to go, especially if it’s one of many channels to feature your work.
Dribbble and Behance
People have been talking about how Dribbble and Behance promote a culture of posting visually stunning work without context, eliciting comments like “So cool bro!” And it’s true, there’s some of that. Designers view Dribbble as an exclusive club to get in, but once you’re there the excitement stops. Recruiters who are looking for interaction designers, UX designers, or product designers find both platforms insufficient.
My advice is to think of these platforms as a teaser. Let recruiters get an idea of your work based on your snapshots, then substantiate these with a detailed case study on your personal site. Both platforms receive a significant amount of traffic. If you’ve already put your portfolio together, take advantage of this—promote it.
In 2020, Dribbble launched new offerings for designers, allowing them to customize their landing page and giving advanced posting capabilities like sharing videos. While this doesn’t replace a portfolio, it’s a nice supplement.
If you’re in a hurry and need to put together a portfolio, Medium can be used as a quick way to get started. However, avoid making your portfolio look like an example from the case study factory. Similar to Dribbble, Medium can be used as a teaser, it’s an opportunity to also promote your profile and your work without getting into the nitty-gritty of the process—save that for your personal site.
It might come as a surprise to see Instagram listed as one of the tools to promote your portfolio, but there have been stories of recruiters going through designers’ Instagram accounts and getting an interview out of that. If you do choose to include an Instagram account on your profile, make sure you keep it professional. Some designers have a dedicated Instagram, focused specifically on design, where they share snapshots of their work a la Dribbble; but this may prove cumbersome, especially if you’re not sharing actively. Either way, this could be yet another channel to drive portfolio traffic.
Figure: Instagram Your Portfolio
Dan Petty’s Instagram feed features shots of his personal life as well as recent projects he’s worked on.
Staying active on Twitter can be a great way to engage with the community. Blatantly promoting your portfolio or case studies is frowned upon, but engaging with other designers, and recruiters, you can become an active member of the community. Beyond engagement, you can also follow UX jobs accounts and hashtags to get the latest job postings.
Think of LinkedIn as an up-to-date version of one’s resume. In addition to listing out your experience, you want to also tell your side of the story. Once you have your pitch created, you can reuse part of it in your title and your profile description. You can also attach files—these could be either individual case studies or links to your full portfolio (which can be especially handy should you choose to make a portfolio deck).