Portfolio tip: Show your understanding with ‘work stories’

What are you actually trying to accomplish with your content design or UX writing portfolio?

Here’s one answer: Show someone that you understand it.

That’s the short version, anyway, from my response to a question about portfolios and case studies during the recent SVC-hosted panel on landing your first content design job. The gist of my sentiment is that, especially for a junior- or mid-level role, you’re not trying to knock someone’s socks off with the Most Impressive UX Case Study Ever™. You just need to find little stories from your working life — work stories, if you like — that demonstrate that you understand what content design is, can see it in work you’ve already done, and that you try to apply it wherever you can.

You can tell a work story about a great email you wrote that changed someone’s mind. Or the way you changed your approach to a weekly status update on Slack to make it more readable and engaging. Or even about revising your own resume using user-centered design principles.

It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it shows that you get it. Because a lot of people don’t.

(Not sure if you get it? Keep reading! Everyone who “gets it” doesn’t always feel like they do, but we keep reading and trying, reading and trying, and eventually more sticks than doesn’t. And by reading I mean books. Off. Of. Medium. No!)

This essay originally appeared in Issue 088 of the UX Writing Events newsletter on June 13, 2022.

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