I reviewed 2k+ Design portfolios last year. Here’s what Design Recruiters are looking for.

Kristina Holysheva
3 min readJan 21, 2021

The work of the Design Recruiter is about getting to know designers, engaging with them, and evaluating the quality of work they are doing. By far the portfolio review is the best means to get a grasp of the candidate’s experience and skills.

A portfolio goes far beyond an online archive of your past projects. We need to see the depth and breadth of your understanding and practice of design, and what’s really important — what makes you stand out.

During the last year as a UX recruiter, I’ve reviewed more than 2000 design portfolios. So here are 9 things UX Recruiters are looking for in your portfolio:

1. Think about us as users of the portfolio

Too often, designers don’t think about their portfolio as the solution to a design problem.

Is it user-friendly and easy to use? Have you thought about the target users — recruiters and the design teams doing the hiring? Will they be able to easily evaluate your experience and design skills? Is it concise and scannable?

2. We need it to be self-explanatory

Rest assured, in every hiring process the portfolio is reviewed by at least 10 to 15 people you’ll probably never meet. Is your portfolio self-explanatory and understandable without you presenting the cases? Be sure the reviewers will understand your solutions without the need to ask additional questions.

3. We love portfolios that are fully intuitive

Is your portfolio easy to navigate? Make sure we know exactly where to go to find out more about you, and after that find a way back to the Home Page. Please add essential sections: About, Portfolio and Contact.

4. Show your end-to-end process

We are looking to see your design process, successes and failures, and your ultimate design solutions. Big beautiful images look great, but they don’t tell us and hiring managers if you can solve a problem.

5. Tell us about your role, team, and responsibilities

Most projects are a team effort. What was the part of the design you were in charge of? Please add the description of your responsibilities on each project, plus the people you collaborated with — it will help us get a clearer picture of your personal contributions and design skillset.

6. State the design challenge

What’s the point of good design if not to solve problems? Be sure you’ve communicated the problem you were solving and then walk us through the story behind the project.

7. Tell us a story

A good designer is a storyteller. The portfolio review is a chance to establish your image in the reviewer’s mind — who you are, and how you think.

It doesn’t even need to be a text — if you’re a designer, you know there are many ways to tell a story.

8. Show your design craft

At a glance, your portfolio project should prove your designs show a high level of polish and craft. Remember, more than 80% of recruiters spend less than 3 minutes per portfolio, so make sure it’s visually appealing right from first sight.

9. Add a personal touch

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” - Maya Angelou

Make our experience pleasurable and memorable, personalize your portfolio with creative ideas and make them exclusive and emotional.

Good luck with your portfolio review, and getting the dream job!

Any feedback? Leave it here — I’d love to start a discussion.