Portfolio Website Vs. PDF / Print Portfolio

Hi all,

I’m in the process of updating my portfolio and am looking for some advice. I’ve been looking on this discussion board and there seems to be two main types of portfolio that people use - website and PDF/print. I was just wondering which people have found to be the best/most appropriate approach to your portfolio when applying for jobs? Website, PDF/print or both?



Hi, great question. Lots of things have already been written on this subject and having the right portfolio medium when applying for jobs is sometimes tricky to get right. In an ideal situation you should have both.

An online personal website or portfolio showcase like Adobe’s Myportfolio to get potentional employers to look at what you’re capable of. The attention span of HR managers is short and you have to aim to convince them of your skills in a short amount of time. PDF’s often get bulky quick and result in slow load times, portfolio sites (generally) load quick, create great oversight, and aren’t all that dificult to set up. Employers also aren’t that keen to download files from strangers.
However PDF’s have the advantage that you can tailor your portfolio to the specific needs of potentional employers, but personally I keep this for an in person interview.

For in person interviews I always bring a print version and a digital version (of the same document). Here you can ellaborate more on process and design decisions and prove why you are the right fit for the team. I would stress to always bring both of these, even if they say in advance that a digital version will sufice. Print versions are easier to discuss one on one and they are especially usefull when displays crash or scale incorrectly. It’s also always usefull to have spares or a backup plan.

In short, the first step is to get your foot in the door and convince HR, second step is to convince your interviewer. Both steps have a different approach and your portfolio should be tailored to this.

This is my 2c as a recent grad in the EU.

I advise investing in learning some web design and creating your own portfolio website with a professional URL, you can send it to employers and people will find you more easily. For interviews I recommend a printed showcase portfolio - also here make sure it looks professional and use a print service rather than a consumer level printer. I favor online documents over PDFs as well because they are easy to browse and load quickly.

Do both!

Website for online exposure and printed PDF for interviews.

For me, my printed portfolios were always a hit simply because barely anyone brings them. I ALWAYS got a nice compliment on having it and ALWAYS got asked if the interviewer could keep a copy.

My interviewers told me it was a nice change from the norm which was people huddled around a laptop or iPad screen or having to fumble with sorting out getting it on a projector. It also means those interviewing you can focus on parts that may peak their interest more than only getting the one chance of it popping up on screen.

For me, I prepared a book in InDesign and then had it printed and bound by and online service for something silly like $14 per book. When I started my current job 3ish months after my interview, my boss still had it in his mini bookshelf on his desk and said I was the only one they had in the office that came with a physical book.

Do you remember the online company you used?

I used a company called Doxdirect but unfortunately it’s based in the UK, as am I. I’m sure there are similar services in the US though that are just as cheap, before I discovered them I was under the impressions that having a book made would cost hundreds of dollars but I bet 10 minutes of Googling will be rewarding to find a similar service.


Thanks for the link Sketchgrad - its nice to see a UK link posted on here!
Its also incredibly cheap for the service - I’m definitely going to have a few of these made next time on the look out.