Creating a GIS Portfolio

A GIS portfolio is a way to digitally present GIS projects and maps that you have created. Another way to think about it is as a visual resume. Since the end product of most GIS projects is a visual output such as a map or online app, this is a great way to highlight those geospatial accomplishments. A portfolio is a space where you can creatively show others what geospatial skill sets you have that go beyond the text-based approach of a traditional resume.

Should you create a GIS portfolio?

Your GIS portfolio is a living memory book of your career. On a personal level, it’s a wonderful reminder to yourself of all that you have accomplished and lets you further visualize a roadmap to additional skills you want to acquire.

Ideally, you should start creating one with the first GIS or cartography course you take and update it as your career in GIS develops. However, it’s never too late to start a portfolio even if you are a seasoned GIS professional.

A growing number of employers are requesting access to your GIS portfolio as part of your job application. Portfolios can showcase not only the maps you have made, and the GIS tools you are skilled in, but also lets potential employers understand your writing, communication, and organizational styles.

5 benefits of a portfolio:

  1. It’s a great first impression for employers – If an employer sees your website link in your signature or on your resume, they’ll likely click on it to see what you’ve built. Seeing you taking the time to build a website featuring work samples, recommendations, previous presentations and more will be a killer first impression!
  2. Increases your visibility and online presence – When an employer Googles your name, your professional portfolio will be one of the first search results that pop up, especially if your name is in the website domain.
  3. Showcases yourself – Because of the flexibility of an online portfolio, you are able to show your creativity and personality by choosing design and layout. It also gives you a chance to highlight your writing skills.
  4. Credibility – A portfolio is a great way to demonstrate consistency between what you say and what you do, which also helps generate your credibility.
  5. Sets you apart – Not every candidate has a published portfolio to show off. Building one is definitely a great way to set you apart from other candidates!

Creating your portfolio
When creating a portfolio, your goal should be to ensure that it is a great product of all your work and accomplishments. Your portfolio should be well thought out and easy to navigate.

You can create a story map journal or build your own website (WordPress, GitHub, Weebly, etc.). The look and feel are completely up to you but there are a few essential details you should always include in your portfolio.

  • Your work – This is the main reason for creating your portfolio so it should be the major focal point. List any geospatial applications you have created, show off your maps, and create live hyperlinks.

TIP: To add maps to your portfolio, instead of just showing a screenshot you may want to use ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro and upload the maps to ArcGIS Online. Create links in your portfolio to these so they are easily accessible for employers to looks at.

  • About You – Creating an “about you” section can be a great way to make your portfolio even more personalized, fun, and creative. It gives people a chance to make a more personal connection with you.
  • Contacts – Make sure to include a way for people to contact you. Add your email and create links to your social media platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Resume – Add details from your resumes such as work experience, education, skills, or any awards you have received. If an employer stumbles upon your portfolio before your resume they may still ask you for your standard resume but at least they will know before reaching out if you have the qualifications and experience they are needing.

TIP: For your standard Word or PDF resume, make sure to have a live link to your portfolio. This will help keep all your information in one place so employers don’t need to go searching for it again.

Need more help?
Are still feeling stuck on what to do for your portfolio? Here are a couple of great examples:

You can find more excellent portfolio examples by doing a simple search for “GIS portfolios” on the web.

Esri is also a great resource and even has some of their own guides on creating a portfolio. View their guide for a story map portfolio.