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Karl Gechlik | -

It's been a while! Good to see you back posting Daniel. And now with an even bigger sigh back to rebuilding my 5tb failed array!

Warm geeky regards to all!

Long -

Thanks for these helpful tips. Especially the last one, I can't believe I missed role description.

MK Owens -

I've noticed that it is a lot more difficult for me to put together a programming portfolio than it is for me to put together a design portfolio, even though the majority of my work the last 3 years has been programming. Your blogpost is succinct and to the point, but I have myself been preparing to unleash my programming portfolio upon the world (with the knowledge that it will be quite underwhelming in the scheme of things) for weeks trying to figure out the best format to display past projects because I do not have many past projects that I actually continued working on past the initial code dump that I was contracted to do, so many of the sites that I have coded are in disarray due to poor quality control by clients, new coders taking over and making drastic changes, etc.

Carolyn -

Calmest rant ever! :)

Seriously, though - it's amazing how many things that should be automatic when it comes to resumes and portfolios are so blatantly ignored. Granted, I don't look over designer resumes - but I've looked at my fair share of administrative assistant resumes where they have a "strong attention to detail" yet there's both misspellings and grammatical errors abundant in their resume. That alone puts the applicant in the "thanks, but no thanks" pile for me.

It's the little things that truly matter in this competitive market. Great insight from the "other side" of the process.

Shannon -

Nice to see you back blogging again Daniel. I always enjoy your insights. Please keep it up!

Ahmed -

Well said ! I'll consider this in the near future :)
Kyle Meyer from pointed this reality in a blogpost. Only few online portfolios are worth seeing !

Todd Sieling -

I hate getting resumes at all unless I really want a full work or education history. Typically I'll ask for a short letter of introduction describing the person's interest, and a link to any live, viewable work. Emails that arrive with resumes attached either didn't read or didn't care about what was actually asked for, and the letter conveys much more of the person than a standardized format that can all-too-easily lie or mislead.

Good advice on the use of lightbox to show portfolio samples. It's easy to get caught up in making the envelope fancier than the contents.

Chris Luckhardt -

The issue of including past work that's been changed by someone else has always been a concern. In addition, I've done a lot of Intranet work that obviously can't be shown in a portfolio. What do you suggest in that situation?

Spencer E Holtaway -

That all sounds pretty well covered. I don't go through peoples' portfolios (I'm not in that position in my career right now), but I've found it always helps to use language that is:

simple, but sophisticated.

Steer clear of too many business buzzwords that don't really mean anything, and be yourself. Type how you talk, it's amazing how far your resume matching up with you as a person can take you... if you make the interview stage!

Rich -

I miss your passive aggression, Daniel. :)

Robert -

In looking at various personal websites with portfolios I have noticed the abundance of lightbox effects in use and it has angered me as well. Occasionally you get the lightbox effect with a link to a working version of the site, however a direct link would have sufficed.

I do wonder though, would there be an issue with thumbnails that link to the sites, that way it is not simply a long list of websites?

Oh and one more thing, glad to see you back, truth be told I enjoy the heck out of your blog, and your work at digg and pownce and other places about the web.

Heidi Cool -

You've really gotten to the heart of the matter here. It seems so obvious, yet it's a great reminder. We hired a new designer in January and it took us several months to do so. We had the resumes, and I Googled each that made it to the first round of interviews but I was astonished that they didn't each provide online profiles. Only 2 had done so. I can look at screen captures and find them attractive, but until I see the code that makes them so I have no way to judge the skill level. That which we can achieve in Photoshop may differ greatly from standards compliant, multi-browser compatible code.

But above and beyond that, if someone hasn't bothered to put their own site together (esp. when looking for a new job) I just have to wonder how committed they are to the Web. I have sites all over the place. Some are in disrepair, but I'm always tinkering with something, to me that seems part of the job. If someone isn't working on something worth sharing then why do they want to be in the field in the first place?

robert -


How important is one's own website when reviewing candidates? I've always wondered how much my personal work is looked at when being evaluated.

Cap -

That's great advice. I only just recently built my first online portfolio (which pretty much violates every one of the things you talked about). It's nice to know what people are looking for in terms of content there.

Time to redesign.

Aaron Russell -

Some sound advice and I know I'm violating a few of these tips... :(

I certainly agree with linking to live sites or even hosting a mockup of the live site if the site has changed dramatically since you worked on it. However, I don't necessarily agree with the anti-lightbox sentiment. If you are a freelancer the lightbox effect pitches your work to possible clients in an insant and visually striking way. I still think you should link to a live site where possible, but lightboxes also serve a purpose which I think has been overlooked.

Chexee -

Kept all your advice in mind when putting together this: . Its still a work in progress, but I think screenshots + live versions are a definitely plus. Good to see work from all directions.

Karl Bowers -

Loving the site dude! Awsome design! :-)

Bio via LinkedIn

Daniel Burka

My name is Daniel Burka. I'm a web designer living in San Francisco. Currently, I'm one of the founders of Milk Inc.. For several years I was the creative director at Digg and previous to Milk, I was the director of design at Tiny Speck. I grew up in PEI, Canada, where I was one of the founders of silverorange. Aside from obsessing about interface design and css selectors, I'm a frequently-falling rock climber, a lazy cyclist, and an often out-of-bounds disc golfer.

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