5+ Years as a professional. New' folio time. What to show?

I have a question for the designers out there who have been out in the workforce for awhile. What do you tend to show in your portfolios as you advance in your careers? I’m trying to decide how best to put together a new sample of my skills and work, something I’m finding much more difficult now than when I was in school.

NDAs prevent me from showing most of my recent projects, and some even prevent me from showing in-process work for products that have already made it out into the market (often this is where the best stuff is- the creative concepts, sketches, and beautiful renderings… ) So I find myself left with showing a photo of the end product that made it to market, which is a little unsatisfying, and makes me feel like I am taking credit for the whole project, when in fact I typically work in collaboration with other designers and engineers, who have all contributed.

Do you tend to show your whole process, early sketches (if available/allowed), or the final product (noting your individual contributions)? Are process-portfolios still that important when you’ve been out there for awhile, or is a sampler a better idea?

I know a few of you out there have to be in the same boat, would love to hear your thoughts.

I end up showing commercialized pieces in order to avoid any problems with NDA’s. I’ll show pieces of development from various projects to show my complete development methods. I end up selecting development pieces that are over a year old again to avoid any NDA conflicts. Most interviewing companies that I’ve met are appreciative of adhering to NDA’s and don’t seem to have a problem with this.

A lot of it also depends how you handled the time constraints of the project as well, how you interacted with clients, and how you moved the project along the Gantt. Team work is great but you have to tell the story of the dynamics behind the team and the critical role you played. Employers are pretty smart at figuring out exactly what you did within the realm of the project you present. Skill sets are a given with your level of experience. I think its also crucial you demonstrate how you take the software to a new level, and how you use the software to achieve the goals given the time line. Also, I found if you demonstrate a new academic skill while in the professional role, it also helps to build a better picture of an evolving designer. It’s really easy to get stuck in a rut, designing the same way for a number of years. If you can show how you developed professionally during those five years in the context of business goals, client strategies, and utilization of new technologies, you setup for a really good story to tell…putting it all together as a cohesive package…that’s a whole new design thesis…good luck.

Great comments Boosted and Masood, thanks for the input! I suppose in a way I’m answering my own question when I think about what I’d look for when interviewing someone in a similar position. It’s certainly not all about the portfolio content at this level, though the 'folio is still a great gauge of someone’s eye for details, aesthetic, etc. I’m almost tempted to put something together now that’s literally two sections: “Here are some things that I worked on.” and “Here is what I did to make them happen.”

I hear ya Gman. You could put note next to the project headed with “My Contribution” then you let viewers know you worked as part of a team and are not claiming credit where it does not belong.

My quandry is how many projects to include, I too have done a lot of work? Is there a magic number? Both for the pdf sampler and the in person version. Like 2 injection molded durables, 2 structural packaging, 2 perm POP, 2 sewn bags, 4 3D modeling/rendering. I have the problem where I cant show some good work, so not every project has the whole story. So I end up having a separate section for 3D modeling and rendering.
Do you ONLY want to show relevant work or give a broader array of what you’ve done?