5 Critical Software Engineer Portfolio Mistakes that Junior Developers are Making

Tyler Au
4 minutes
October 20th, 2022
Tyler Au
4 minutes
October 20th, 2022

From Entry-Level to Lead Software Engineer

Picture this: you’re sitting in front of your laptop, scratching your head in frustration and wondering why you haven’t gotten an interview yet … or a response from any company at all. 

These days, finding a job could be as difficult as finding the needle in a haystack. Hiring freezes, budget cuts, a recession? It might seem like all of the odds are stacked against you at the moment (and everyone else on the job market for that matter), and the job application process might be suffocating.

But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are the 5 BIGGEST portfolio mistakes that the average junior web developer is making that’s hindering their chances of landing an interview:

#1 - Putting Way Too Many Projects

“Less is more”. “Quantity over quality”. I can think of about a hundred more quotes to describe this sentiment but you get the idea.

Coding projects for portfolios might be easy, but choosing the best ones to include is difficult.

Rather than overloading your portfolio with all of the projects you’ve ever made, be selective and choose only the projects that demonstrate your skill and understanding completely. There are two reasons for this:

  1. Having too many projects in your portfolio makes it harder for a hiring manager or anyone viewing your portfolio to find the projects that you’ve fully invested in and developed. Like a recruiter, the time that hiring managers spend looking at a portfolio is extremely limited (typically around 3 minutes per portfolio)- be sure to make their experience easy and enjoyable.
  2. Having too many projects not only hides the good projects, but also highlights the bad ones. Hiring managers want to see the projects that showcase the best of your abilities, by overloading your portfolio with subpar projects, the only story your projects will tell is one of inexperience.

We recommend putting anywhere from 3-4 projects on your portfolio as a beginner, however, your projects will speak for your experience. If you need one project to tell your story and skills flawlessly, more power to you!

#2 - Building Easily Replicated / Templated Projects

Let me guess what your search history looks like:

“Computer science portfolio” or “Software engineer portfolio examples”, chances are you’ll find some great projects with these searches. 

There are millions of developers out there building their own portfolios and aiming for their shot at working in a big tech company, many of whom are beginner developers. The best way for these beginner developers to get started is to follow a tutorial or build templated projects and eventually develop those skills taught, but for a junior developer to showcase this on their portfolio shows a lack of skill. In fact, having these template projects on your portfolio while having good work experience shows that you haven’t been applying the skills demonstrated on your resume

Anyone can build a Spotify replica, chess game, or random number generator, but not many can apply the teachings from all three tutorials and create something truly unique. Hiring managers don’t want to see any easily-replicated copy-and-paste project, what they want to see is you applying your teachings from these tutorials and templates and creating something that is uniquely you that lets you stand out from the crowd.

#3 - An Inaccessible Portfolio

Think about the time you found a great website and wanted to look at it on your phone, and then you got hit with one of these:

Mobile view of the National Weather Service website

The text of this website is way too small for a mobile-user, if you try clicking any of the links on the bottom your finger will probably tap two or three of them instead.

Lesson: make your portfolio as accessible and mobile-friendly as possible! Everyone is different; what is easily viewable and legible for you can be a totally different experience for someone else. By making your portfolio super accessible and mobile-friendly, you’ll open a door of opportunities for anyone to access and judge your portfolio.

#4 - Having Buggy or Unfinished Projects

Imagine you are a chef sending out a burnt steak to Gordon Ramsey, that’s what it’s like sending out an unfinished or buggy project to a hiring manager.

There’s the obvious ramifications of this: a demonstration of lack of skill, no care for attention to detail, and the creation of an unenjoyable experience for the hiring manager. But there’s also more implicit traits that an unfinished or buggy project on a portfolio says about you.

Having buggy or unfinished projects in your portfolio says novels about your work ethic! The inability to finish a project demonstrates your lack of commitment when it comes to learning and expanding your skills.

#5 - Clunky / Unusable UI

Does your portfolio look like a maze? Links leading somewhere else, unfindable projects, almost impossible navigation? If so then sorry to tell you, but you have a bad user interface (UI)

A bad UI will provide a bad user experience, therefore turning away anyone viewing your portfolio. Having clunky UI will not only be a bad experience for the hiring manager, but also you! With a terrible UI, a project that you wanted to highlight might be left in the dust because of a faulty nav bar or button.

Portfolio mistakes are one thing, but expanding the skills in your portfolio are another. Want to grow and develop your portfolio with two of the hottest tech skills? Register for our How to Deploy Your NextJS Project to Kubernetes webinar! It's beginner friendly and a great place to get started!

At Lyrid, we offer a learning platform designed to help you become a next-generation developer you’ve always dreamed of. Our monthly webinars and tutorials place an emphasis on coding efficiency and rapid testing for new ideas. We’re here for your support whether you’re building a compelling portfolio or the next startup.

Happy learning!

For more information on Next.js + Kubernetes, please visit : How to Deploy Your Next JS Project to Kubernetes

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