Portfolios have been used for decades by writers, artists, photographers, designers, and other creatives. But these days job seekers from other fields are discovering the strategic value of a well-crafted portfolio. We can help you create one, or, if you already have a portfolio, we can review it with you.
What Is a Portfolio?
A portfolio is a comprehensive tool that helps you demonstrate that you are much more than the sum of your résumé and cover letter — by showcasing not only your work history and education, but so much more as well:
- Ability to communicate well
- Sense of career direction and goals
- Accomplishments, recognitions, and awards
- Activities and experience
- Creativity/project management
With a great portfolio you will dazzle prospective employers!
What Can Your Portfolio Do for You?
- Package all your application materials and achievements into one bundle and set you apart from other candidates
- Visually represent your skills in design thinking, communication, and Excel spreadsheets — skills that can be more valuable to a prospective employer than your degrees or experience
- Document the scope and quality of your experience and training
- Demonstrate your learning and career goals
- Help you prepare for interviews — as well as feel and appear more professional
- Help you focus the conversation during interviews
What Should You Include in Your Portfolio?
Here are some suggestions:
- A brief bio
- A copy of your résumé
- Your list of references
- Letters of recommendation
- A copy of your transcripts, if appropriate
- A fact sheet that lists your skills, what you like to do, and your relevant experience
- Certificates of awards and honors
- Certifications for special training or courses
- Programs or marketing samples from events you planned or participated in
- A list and descriptions of conferences and workshops you have attended
- Writing samples
- Documentation of technical or computer skills that would benefit the employer
- Performance evaluations from previous employers, campus organization advisors, or leaders of volunteer projects
- Letters of nomination to honors and academic organizations
- News stories or press releases that address your achievements
- Internship summary reports
Tips for Creating a Great Portfolio
When developing your portfolio you should take the same approach as you would when writing a résumé/CV or cover letter.
- Be clear and concise throughout. Choose your words carefully, and delete superfluous words.
- Tailor the portfolio to the job opening. Don’t include irrelevant materials.
- Showcase. Make it clear how your skills, strengths, education, and experience match the requirements of the job description.
- Proofread carefully, and ask someone else with good language skills to proof it also.
- Print on professional-quality paper.
- Put any loose papers or materials in clear plastic sheet protectors.
- Use a professional case or three-ring binder to hold your portfolio.
- Organize your portfolio carefully; avoid clutter.
- Use attractive dividers to separate sections, and include a table of contents.
- Make sure your portfolio contains only your best work.
- Never leave your portfolio behind, even if your interviewer asks you to. Bring extra copies of anything you think you might want to leave behind.
Having an online portfolio, or e-portfolio, can help you stand out from other applicants even more. An e-portfolio is a personal website that showcases the same experiences, skills, accomplishments, creativity, and interests as a physical portfolio, but highlights them in an easily accessible, easily sharable, interactive way. You can build your e-portfolio incrementally over time, but include only your best work.
Telling a Prospective Employer About Your Portfolio
You may want to mention your portfolio in the reference section of your résumé as well as in your cover letter. Always bring your portfolio to interviews. When the employer begins to ask questions about your résumé, you can use your portfolio to support your responses. Because of time limitations, you may not have an opportunity to show your portfolio to an employer in detail, but you can offer to send copies of the materials the employer is most interested in.
Keeping Your Portfolio Current
Be sure to regularly update and add information to your portfolio. Include anything you think might help you in a future job search.
A Final Note
Remember to bring your portfolio to informational interview appointments to get professional feedback.