​Your portfolio is not the work you did—it’s the work you’ll do next

This story was originally published by Medium.

There is one thing we at Semplice like to repeat again and again when it comes to building a great portfolio. It’s a little secret that we should know, but often forget about in the process:

“Your portfolio is not the work you did, but the work you’re going to do next.”

Let me explain what that means:

For a long time we always believed that a designer’s portfolio is an archive, a showcase of recent work and projects—something that just “happens” based on the work we do.

As an example, let’s imagine Paul the designer has a portfolio with 10 web design projects. Paul’s dream is actually to work on a illustration project, but because he only worked on 10 web design projects he thinks it’s best to show all of them in his current portfolio.

I can now promise you that his next and 11th project will be a web design project again. The power of his portfolio will direct his future work, if he likes it or not.

Knowing that, we can be more mindful in creating and curating our portfolios. Each project we put in our portfolio will signal the direction of our next client. Sometimes it’s better to take work out of our portfolio, even if we believe it turned out okay.

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Always ask yourself this simple question: “What is my goal, and what do I want to work on next?” The answer should be reflected in your portfolio. Even if you have the most amazing print design work in your portfolio, if your goal is to attract interactive projects you might have to remove or replace them on your portfolio.

Curating your portfolio is powerful and eventually will help you position yourself in an already crowded industry. Your portfolio ideally reflects your goals and ambitions so it’s easier for others to understand where you want to go.

In the end, it’s not just about only showing the best work you have, but about showing the right work that will lead you to your goal in the future. These things are more about self-positioning and self-branding than just attracting the next project.

We hope this article helped you creating your portfolio.