When your job involves working on multiple projects — usually simultaneously — it can be easy to forget to update your portfolio. If you’re lucky, you have a steady stream of work with constant deadlines, leaving little time for anything work-related other than, you know, actual work.
The problem with this approach is that unless you immediately add a project to your portfolio as soon as you complete it (if so, congratulations on that lifestyle), it’s hard to keep track of everything you finished. And then, when you’re in the position when someone asks for your portfolio, you end up having to scramble to put something together at the last minute. The solution is to strike a balance between constantly updating and completely ignoring your portfolio: updating it on a set schedule.
How to keep your portfolio up-to-date
In some cases, managers require that employees update their portfolios on a regular basis. (And by the way, when we say “portfolio,” it can be everything from graphic design projects, to things you’ve written, to academic experience on a CV.) Designer, editor, and startup advisor David Hoang once worked for a manager who had their design team update their portfolios quarterly, and took to Twitter to provide the rest of us with the details.
I had a manager who had our design team update our personal portfolios every quarter. It startled a lot of people who wondered why she would have us do that. The more you let go, the more you enable retention.
A few examples of what resonated throughout the process…
— David Hoang (@davidhoang) August 5, 2020
“It startled a lot of people who wondered why she would have us do that,” he writes on Twitter. “The more you let go, the more you enable retention.” OK, that does make sense.
The way Hoang goes on to describe it, regularly updating your portfolio accomplishes a few things. First, it gives you the opportunity to document what you’ve done. Second, because many portfolios are case studies, he writes, “it gives you time to position your work to focus on impact.” Third, reflecting on your work as you update your portfolio can get you excited about your work again — especially if you look back and are proud of what you’ve done. “Updating your portfolio should be ongoing and a reflection tool and not only for prepping for departure,” Hoang writes.
It may take some motivation and several calendar alerts, but keeping your portfolio (at least semi-) up-to-date can be worth the time and energy.