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Building a Strong GIS Portfolio

In the competitive landscape of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) careers, a strong GIS portfolio stands as the cornerstone of professional success. Your GIS portfolio not only showcases your expertise and capabilities but also serves as a powerful tool to captivate potential employers or clients.

A GIS portfolio is not just a collection of maps and projects; it’s your digital identity, your professional showcase, and your ticket to opportunities in various industries. But, what exactly makes a GIS portfolio stand out? It’s not just about the quantity of maps or the complexity of analyses. A GIS portfolio is about quality, storytelling, and the ability to demonstrate your skills and expertise in a way that captivates your audience. It’s about showcasing not just what you can do with GIS software, but how you can leverage spatial thinking to solve real-world problems and drive positive change.

What is a GIS portfolio?

A GIS portfolio is a curated collection of maps, projects, analyses, and other spatially oriented works that showcase an individual’s skills, expertise, and accomplishments in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Just like a traditional portfolio showcases an artist’s or designer’s body of work, a GIS portfolio serves as a visual and narrative representation of a GIS professional’s capabilities.

At its core, a GIS portfolio is a dynamic tool used by GIS professionals to demonstrate their proficiency in utilizing spatial data, GIS software, and analytical techniques to solve real-world problems across various industries and domains. It provides a tangible means for individuals to showcase their knowledge, creativity, and problem-solving abilities to potential employers, clients, collaborators, and peers.

gis portfolio
Components of a GIS portfolio

Why Do You Need a GIS Portfolio?

1. Increase Your Visibility: In an increasingly online job market, a portfolio serves as your digital calling card. It allows you to reach a wider audience of potential employers, including those who may not actively search for candidates on traditional job boards. By creating a platform to showcase your work, you actively promote your skills and expertise to a broader professional network.

2. Demonstrate Your Skills: While a resume lists your skills and experience, a portfolio allows you to bring those words to life. By visually presenting your projects, maps, and visualizations, you give employers a tangible understanding of your capabilities and how you translate your knowledge into practical applications.

3. Stand Out from the Competition: A well-crafted portfolio can be the differentiating factor that sets you apart from other applicants. It demonstrates your initiative, creativity, and passion for the field, leaving a lasting impression on potential employers and increasing your chances of landing an interview.

What to Include in Your GIS Portfolio

A strong portfolio should tell a compelling story about your skills and experience as a GIS professional. Here are the key elements to include (Components of a GIS Portfolio):

1. Projects

  • Highlight your best work: Select projects that showcase diverse skills and demonstrate your ability to handle complex tasks.
  • Provide context: Briefly describe the project’s purpose, your role, and the challenges you faced.
  • Showcase your process: Use visuals like screenshots or short videos to illustrate your workflow and technical skills.
  • Quantify your achievements: Whenever possible, use data and metrics to demonstrate the impact of your work.


  • Project Title: Flood Risk Assessment for Nairobi City
  • Description: Collaborated with a team of engineers to analyze geospatial data and create flood risk maps for Nairobi city. Used QGIS to perform spatial analysis, generate models, and create interactive maps for stakeholders. The project helped identify vulnerable areas and inform city planning decisions.

2. Maps and Visualizations

  • Present your data effectively: Utilize clear and concise maps, graphs, and charts to communicate complex information in an easily digestible format.
  • Choose the right tools: Leverage industry-standard software like ArcGIS, QGIS, or web mapping platforms to create visually appealing and professional maps.
  • Maintain consistency: Ensure your maps and visualizations have a consistent style and branding that reflects your professionalism.


  • Include a side-by-side comparison of a static map and an interactive map built using Leaflet.js, highlighting the benefits of interactivity and user engagement in data visualization.

3. Technical Skills

  • List relevant software proficiency: Highlight your expertise in various GIS software (e.g., ArcGIS Pro, QGIS, Python, R) and programming languages (e.g., Python, JavaScript).
  • Quantify your proficiency: Use proficiency levels (e.g., beginner, intermediate, advanced) or include certifications to substantiate your skills.
  • Stay up-to-date: Demonstrate your willingness to learn by showcasing proficiency in emerging technologies relevant to the GIS field.

4. Soft Skills

  • Don’t underestimate the power of soft skills: Highlight your communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and analytical skills.
  • Provide specific examples: Briefly explain how you employed these skills in your projects and work experiences.
  • Tailor your examples: Customize your content for each job application, emphasizing soft skills relevant to the specific position.


  • Describe how you collaborated with a team of engineers and city planners to create flood risk maps, effectively communicating complex technical concepts to non-technical stakeholders.

5. Case Studies and Summaries

  • Provide concise summaries: Briefly explain the context, challenges, and solutions of your projects.
  • Focus on results: Emphasize the outcomes and impact of your work, showcasing your ability to deliver successful projects.
  • Use storytelling: Engage your audience by narrating the process and highlighting your problem-solving approach.

Tips for a Winning GIS Portfolio

Having established the essential elements of a strong portfolio, let’s explore some additional tips to elevate your online presence.

1. Choose the Right Platform

  • Online platforms like Behance, Portfoliobox, or even LinkedIn Showcase allow you to easily create and host your portfolio online without coding expertise. For more control and customization, consider building your own website using platforms like WordPress or Wix. This option requires some technical skills but offers greater flexibility in design and functionality.

2. Design and User Experience

  • Present your portfolio with a clean, professional, and visually appealing design. Utilize a user-friendly interface that is easy to navigate and accessible across different devices. Use clear and high-resolution screenshots, maps, and images to showcase your work effectively.
  • Also, ensure your portfolio adapts seamlessly to different screen sizes and devices, considering the growing mobile browsing trend.

3. Tailor Your Content

  • Customize your portfolio for each job application by highlighting relevant projects, skills, and experiences that directly align with the specific position and company. Emphasize the aspects of your projects that demonstrate the skills and experience sought by the employer.
  • Throughout your portfolio, incorporate relevant keywords related to the GIS field and the specific job you’re applying for, improving your search engine visibility.

4. Proofread and Edit

  • Proofread your content meticulously for any typos, grammatical errors, or formatting inconsistencies. Additionally, ask a trusted friend or colleague to review your portfolio and provide constructive feedback on the clarity, organization, and overall presentation.

5. Testimonials and Recommendations

  • Include positive feedback from past clients and team members. If you have recommendations, include these as they demonstrate authenticity and credibility.

5. Stay Updated

  • Regularly update it with new projects, skills, and accomplishments to showcase your continuous learning and professional development. Stay informed about the latest trends in GIS and consider showcasing your proficiency in emerging tools and technologies. Also, don’t wait for potential employers to find you. Share your portfolio online through professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn or personal websites.

Sample portfolio landing page

In conclusion, taking the time and effort to craft a compelling GIS portfolio is an investment in your career. A well-designed and informative portfolio can:

  • Showcase your unique skills and experience
  • Demonstrate your passion and commitment
  • Increase your confidence

By following these strategies and putting your best foot forward, you can build a powerful GIS portfolio that unlocks exciting opportunities and propels your career forward in the ever-evolving world of geospatial technologies.


Your portfolio is an ongoing reflection of your professional growth. Continuously update it, seek feedback, and stay passionate about your field. With dedication and a compelling portfolio, you’ll be well on your way to landing your dream GIS job.

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Wanjohi Kibui

Passionate about harnessing the power of geospatial technology to create innovative solutions, I'm a GIS Consultant and Developer dedicated to building cutting-edge geospatial applications. With a keen eye for spatial analysis and a knack for problem-solving, I specialize in crafting solutions that seamlessly integrate technology and geography.

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