5 of the Biggest Developer Portfolio Mistakes

January 19, 2021

When you’re not around, your portfolio is what sells you.

I see the same common mistakes time and time again, and it’s so frustrating to see uncapitalized potential.

Your portfolio says a lot about who you are as a developer. If you’re falling prey to any of the mistakes below, prepare to be ignored in your job search.

To help, I want to share what employers hate when looking at portfolio sites and how to avoid these pitfalls.


Consistently contribute

If you are claiming to be a great developer, you need to show the work. Contribute meaningfully on a consistent basis.

Be relevant

If you’re posting issues to different open source repositories, prove that it’s relevant and makes sense. Ensure you’re adding valuable content.

Have proper links

Double and triple check your links. They need to work. And, don’t worry about being fancy with bitly links – keep it functional and simple.

Ensure your code works

If you link, for example, to your project hosted on Heroku, make sure it’s working. Your link, your code – everything needs to work the first time. If it doesn’t, you’ve just lost your audience.

Personal Site

Contact information easily found

Your contact information should be 0 to 1 click away. Don’t make your audience hunt.

Give context

Sell your audience about what you’re showing them. Why should they care?

Specifically for projects, how did you build this project, and what was the outcome? What did you do in your project that stands out? Do you have working demo links? Give context to sell your audience.


Level of code

Woo, I have a working project!

Yes, you may have a working project, but how’s your code within that project?

People have been turned down before for a job because of the state of their code – don’t let this happen to you.

Go back to your old projects, give them another look through to refactor and make improvements. Give your projects a solid build to show your audience that you care about your code.

Remember, your code speaks for you when you’re not around.

Project completion

People start projects all the time but don’t get around to completing them.

For example, I see people add authentication to their projects and yet it’s not working in the demo. So that’s not authentication.

Ensure you’ve completed your projects with all the functionality you intended.

Ideal Job

Know your market. Your resume and portfolio should be screaming this – what you’re using, what you want to be using, should match your ideal job.

Don’t wait until you get the job. Start now. Show them you’re doing the things you claim to want.

Prove You Don’t Need Crutches

Downloaded your theme? Crutch.

Buy the template site? Crutch.

Only using Bootstrap? Crutch.

Only use Lodash? Crutch.

This isn’t to say never use the above – but it’s important to show you can and do write your own custom code.

What Now?

Fix these five things and your portfolio will have a better chance to catch the attention of your audience and do so successfully.

If you want help with this, check out Coding Career Fastlane. We’d love to hear where you’re at!

See our accompanying video by clicking here.

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