How to Create an Architecture Portfolio that Wins Clients

 |  SelfCAD University

9 Tips for Creating a Great Architectural Design Portfolio

The architectural portfolio plays a very important role in landing a job or internship at an architecture firm or industry. Portfolio is the greatest tool you have (as a professional architect or student) with which to present yourself and your work to potential employees, clients, or tutors.

Whether you want to work as a freelancer or want to get a job in the architecture field, you will need a portfolio to showcase your skills because the way you present your skills plays a vital role.

Nowadays the competition in every field is increasing very rapidly, and architecture is not left out. Every job seeking person is creating a resume and sending it to various companies, and every freelancer is sending proposals to different clients.

In a time like this, assembling a portfolio may work for you. Creating an architectural or 3D design portfolio is not a difficult task but people are always stuck in the process of creating a portfolio when they start to think: which projects do I list? Should I include personal information or not? Should I include my academic papers?

To solve these problems, we decided to write an article that will provide you with 9 tips on how to build an outstanding architectural portfolio that can attract potential employers and clients.

Let's dive in!

9 Tips For Creating a Magnificent Architectural Portfolio

  1. Select Your Best Projects
  2. Include Personal Information
  3. Don't Send Resume Without a Portfolio
  4. Short portfolio is Better than Long Portfolio
  5. Include Team Projects
  6. Pay Attention to Fonts and Grammar
  7. Choose Projects that is in line with the Office's Profile
  8. Sell Yourself
  9. Update Frequently

1. Select Your Best Projects

creating architectural design

Architecture design in SelfCAD

Most people think that, the more projects we present in our portfolio, the more chances we have of getting the work. But, let me clear this for you, it is a big myth!

You should only include your best projects in your portfolio. Including every single project in your portfolio makes it boring and long, and there are chances that the client can see the worst project done by you.If that happens, forget about getting the job/work.

So, it's better to only include projects that are relevant and which have the ability to make a good impression. Take a moment and select about  6-10 of your projects that reflect your best work and skill. You can get suggestions from freelancers that are already doing great work in the architecture field or you can contact your friend or colleague who is doing a job in this field.

You can use LinkedIn to connect with professionals, and ask for a review of your portfolio. They are professionals in their field so they can give you better suggestions.

Only choose from your recent projects when building your portfolio. Try not to go back farther than 3 years and make a wise selection as well.

If you're a beginner or if you haven't created any great designs or projects yet, then you can use specialized software like SelfCAD to create awesome designs. It is an easy-to-use, affordable and powerful tool. SelfCAD is a software in which you create objects, scenes, and 3D architect designs in much less time than you would if you’re using traditional CAD software. You don't need to have experience in 3D designing to be able to create architectural models in SelfCAD.

2. Include Personal Information

creating architectural design

Image Source:

Personal information is an essential part of a portfolio. A portfolio with personal information grabs the attention of a client. That's why experts and professionals suggest including personal information in your portfolio. You should have some personal qualities to become a successful freelancer, and to land a job in big companies and firms.

Big companies and organizations always want to know about the personality of their employees because personality is a critical aspect of their job. That's why they ask about your hobbies, character, relationship, family, and more in the general interview. So, when you include all such information in your portfolio, they get to know about your personality and they will likely not ask further questions.

You can also include the best hobbies like if you're a good singer, a good dancer, or if you take good photos. There's no reason to hide any of that in your architecture portfolio. By including such things, you can make the portfolio more fun and interesting.

3. Don't Send Resume Without a Portfolio

creating architectural design

Resume Sample. Image Source: Forbes

A resume without a portfolio is just a plain text and it will never grab the attention of any client or hiring manager. This is a very important thing to remember when sending your resume to any company or organization.

Plain text resume looks boring when compared to a resume with a portfolio, and nobody likes to read a boring resume. In the resume, we include things like where we graduated from, the grades we got, our 10th and 12th percentage and many more things. But, your actual ability in the profession is more valuable than your graduation grades.

You can show your actual ability with the help of a portfolio not with the plain-text resume.

4. Short Portfolio is Better than Long Portfolio

A long portfolio can contain more information than a short one, then why is a short portfolio better than a long one? Most people think that, the more information we provide in our portfolio the more chances we have of getting the job.

But, this is not true. Some offices receive thousands of resumes each day, so if you want a hiring manager or client to read your resume then you should create a short and impressive portfolio.

If your portfolio is too long, no one will read it fully because they have to check thousands of other portfolios and resumes. So, put your best projects first because having a good first impression is very important. You might have too many projects that you think are good, and you feel like including all these projects in the portfolio.

Don't put them all. In situations like this, you have to choose the best of the best. If you have doubts about any project, leave them out of your portfolio.

The length of the portfolio doesn't matter at all. You may use 2 excellent projects rather than 10 or 12 average ones. One great project in your portfolio is sufficient for landing the job or work you're looking for. The employer will only go through your whole portfolio if he/she finds it impressive in the first minute, if not, it will be tossed aside.

5. Include Team Projects

Portfolio is a personal presentation in which you include personal projects and information. But, including team projects in your portfolio can make it unique and appealing.

When you are applying for a job position in big companies and firms, you have to work in a team, and it's important to show that you can work well in teams.

You might have participated in a team project that required teamwork and an integrative relationship. If so, you can include that project in your portfolio. All you have to do is name the project, give credits to other team members and provide the information of the work done by you.

Teamwork is a highly appreciated skill in every industry and you can take advantage of it by including it in your portfolio. Team leaders will appreciate your skill because they always look for people who can work confidently in a team.

6. Pay Attention to Fonts and Grammar

The mistakes in spelling and grammar look very unprofessional in a portfolio and it can be easily spotted. So, it's better to use a grammar checker tool like Grammarly to check the mistakes in your portfolio. Grammarly scans your text for common grammatical mistakes and complex ones like misplaced modifiers. You can use Grammarly for free.

Fonts are an essential part of any document. In professional work, a simple and clear font is always better than a stylish one because people can easily read the simple fonts. Try not to use more than 3 font styles in your portfolio.

Whenever you need to change the font style, choose among 2-3 fonts and adjust sizes to emphasize where you need it. If you want to use a variety of font styles then keep in mind that it doesn't compromise the clarity and legibility.

7. Choose Projects that go along with the Office's Profile

Different companies have different requirements, and you need to make a slightly different portfolio for each place you're applying to. Maybe, some project can work well in an office but would get thrown out of another.

Before applying for a job role in any company, study the company, and get some information about the company like what type of services the company is providing and how you can help the company. Based on the information, make some changes in your portfolio and include projects that match the company requirements.

 This doesn't  mean that you shouldn't include projects that don’t go along with their profile. You can include other projects also so that the employer or hiring manager of the company gets to know about your skills and capabilities.

8. Sell Yourself

You're applying for an architectural job role but you may have many other skills that a company may be looking for. If you're not selected as an architect designer, you might get another job role.

Think about what other talents you might have as well. You are an architect designer, but you may have some other talents as well. For instance, you might be a photographer or you know how to design websites.

Why not include examples of your shots and websites? They are also your skill set. If the company/organization is looking for web designers as well, then you can land the two jobs.

Think from the company’s point of view. They are getting a person who can do both work, then why shouldn't they hire you? The chances of landing the work will greatly increase.

9. Update Frequently

As you create new projects, you should include those projects in your portfolio by frequently updating your portfolio. You can't always use an old portfolio because the projects in an old portfolio are also old, and they may not be efficient in the current situation.

The portfolio is a living document and it should be evolving as the architects evolve with every new project. It will be good to update your portfolio every 6 months or at least yearly. Update your portfolio frequently and you’ll be ready for every job opportunity that you may come across.

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