Mads Brodt is a frontend tech lead from Denmark and I asked him on LinkedIn if he can share what makes a good portfolio for him. I hope you can all draw inspiration from his insights:
That’s awesome Daniel, absolutely! For me, it comes down to a few things:
Do you have any sort of “body of work” I can look at (eg. a portfolio) to get an idea of your current skill level. I think the key here is to have a few projects, ideally something you’re passionate about or interested in. If you love reading and have eg. created a book collection / summary app, that’s a great sign. It’s also cool if you’ve built a few static HTML/CSS pages for “random” businesses, again just to show your fundamental understanding of web technologies and design aesthetics. A todo app works as a last resort, but anything you have a personal connection to is always much preferred IMO.
A targeted application to the specific position, showing a clear drive and interest in working specifically at my company. I can smell a ChatGPT application or template from a mile away, and it’s just not a good first impression. I’m also a believer that being a good writer is a critical development skill, so showing some aspects of that is another great way to stand out of the crowd.
Seeming friendly and outgoing (+personally reaching out before applying). It’s hard to quantify this, but I’m much more likely to consider a candidate if they’ve reached out to me on LinkedIn for example, with a nice message and a professional picture and asked me a simple question. Or even better, if I’ve met them in person at some networking / career event. Again, it’s all about doing whatever you can to stand out of the crowd.
All these things obviously take a lot more effort than writing one application and sending it out to 50 companies, but I personally think it’s well worth it. Remember that you only need 1 company to give you a chance, so I’d recommend spending more time on your portfolio, application and outreach and then applying to ~10 companies this way instead. I don’t have any stats, but I imagine you’ll be much more likely to succeed this way.