Attaining Career Durability Through a Diverse Tech Portfolio

by Lizette Roman-Johnston
August 01, 2023
Career durability

In the face of economic uncertainty, tech professionals are looking for new ways to attain job security, and an increasingly popular method is through technical contract work. 

According to McKinsey’s 2022 American Opportunity Survey (AOS), 36 percent of employed respondents identified themselves as independent workers, compared to 27 percent in 2016. Contract work can be ideal for professionals who want flexibility, autonomy, and dynamism. But to reap these benefits, you need a diverse portfolio of technical contract work.

A technical portfolio consists of projects, code samples, and other evidence of your skills. Building an impressive portfolio does not necessarily mean compiling everything you have worked on. You need to curate work that is relevant, impressive, and diverse. You also need to determine what platform(s) best fit your needs and how to optimize your portfolio so it is easy for potential employers to navigate.

A winning portfolio can make all the difference in finding stability and satisfaction in your tech career. Read on to get started.

The Platform and Presentation

Presentation matters. You want your portfolio to be easy to find, easy to navigate, and easy on the eyes. But first, consider which platform(s) to display your portfolio on.

The options can be overwhelming. You can display your portfolio on a personal website or blog, a dedicated portfolio platform, and social media platforms. You can even use a combination of these options.

In terms of dedicated portfolio platforms, there are several popular options, including GitHub, Behance, Dribble, CodePen, Medium, and WordPress. When deciding which to use, consider the ease of use, customization, and other functions like analytics, feedback, and collaboration tools. You also want to consider cost and maintenance — i.e. hosting fees, domain names, and security updates.

Always remember to regularly update your portfolio and check that all links and other features remain functional.

How should you select which projects to display?

It can be challenging to know where to begin when choosing what to include in your portfolio. But when it comes to showcasing your skills, experience, and achievements, there are just three objectives to keep in mind.

Objective 1: Make It Relevant

Before applying for a contract job, dedicate some time to researching the company. Familiarize yourself with their online presence, not only examining their past projects but also their mission. This, along with the role description, will help you determine which of your skills and projects are most relevant.

Do you encounter keywords like “creativity” or “innovation”? Consider highlighting projects that showcase your ability to think outside the box. And, of course, if you are applying for a role in a specific industry, showcase any work you’ve done in that industry.

Objective 2: Make It Impressive

One of the most important things to remember when compiling a portfolio is “quality over quantity.” If you include every project you’ve ever done, you may dilute your most impressive projects. Even if you lack relevant experience, showcasing your strongest work will intrigue potential employers, increasing the likelihood that they will reach out to learn more about you.

To make your portfolio even more impressive, include any projects with tangible outcomes — i.e. awards, metrics, user feedback, or other forms of positive recognition.

Objective 3: Make It Diverse

Creating a diverse portfolio can increase your career durability, allowing you to adapt your resume to fit the needs of many clients across various industries. Aim to include examples of all programming languages you are proficient in, software you have developed or implemented, and databases you have designed.

Including personal projects can also add diversity to your portfolio, as well as showcase additional skills like creativity and self-management. Incorporating projects you are particularly passionate about may help you stand out amongst the competition. Talking about these projects can be particularly dazzling in an interview setting.

How can you identify and pursue new contract work?

Just as it can be hard to determine where to display your work, it can feel overwhelming to find opportunities. But the internet makes this process relatively simple.

You can find contract jobs posted on all the standard job board sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Monster. You can even simply Google keywords such as “IT contract jobs,” and Google will automatically give you the option to apply filters to your job search. 

Ensure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and showcases your most relevant skills. You can also link to your portfolio so employers can easily find your work. You should also consider what keywords you include in your bio and experience descriptions (AKA having good “personal SEO”) as more and more employers are using AI to recruit new hires. In addition to including keywords that show your technical skills, make sure to include soft skills like communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. And don’t forget to indicate on your profile that you are open to work!

Conclusion

Contract work can be an intimidating route amidst an unpredictable labor market. But a diverse portfolio of technical contract work can be your ticket to a consistent, satisfying career. When crafting a portfolio of technical projects, remember that quality is more important than quantity. To determine which projects are “quality,” ask yourself, are they relevant, impressive, and diverse? Overall, a diverse portfolio of technical contract work gives you room to adapt your resume for each job you pursue— equipping you with the needed versatility to survive economic uncertainty.

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