How To Create A Portfolio
How to Create a Portfolio
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What Is a Portfolio?
A portfolio is a binder or book that shows off
your work and abilities. It goes beyond a cover letter and a résumé.
A portfolio is a job-hunting tool that you develop that gives employers
a picture of who you are—your experience, your education, your accomplishments,
and your skills. Not only does it show the employer who you are, but it
also displays what you have the potential to become. It is designed to
do one thing—to support you as you market yourself!
Top Six Reasons to Have a Portfolio
Where to Begin
Distinguish yourself from the competition.
Turn the interview into an offer.
Increase the salary offer by impressing the interviewer.
It is tangible proof of your abilities.
It might help you get promoted.
It can help you find the position that is right for
You should start developing your portfolio by
first doing a self-assessment. Evaluate what you have to offer and what
the best ways are to market your assets. You should decide which skills
and experiences you have will relate to the needs of the interviewer, or
what you would most like the interviewer to see. If you have don't have
much work experience—most students don't—you'll need to mine your school
work, volunteer work, and hobbies for evidence of the relevant skills you
know you have. For example, if you did event promotions for a campus organization,
include a copy of a flyer or poster you designed.
The following is a list of items you may want
Organizing Your Portfolio
Table of Contents (for easy reference)
Career Summary and Goals: A description of
what you stand for (such as work ethic, organizational interests, management
philosophy, etc.) and where you see yourself in two to five years.
Traditional Résumé: A summary
of your education, achievements, and work experience, using a chronological
or functional format.
Scannable Résumé: A text-only
version of your résumé should also be included.
Skills, Abilities and Marketable Qualities:
A detailed examination of your skills and experience. This section should
include the name of the skill area; the performance or behavior, knowledge,
or personal traits that contribute to your success in that skill area;
your background and specific experiences that demonstrate your application
of the skill.
Samples of Your Work:
A sampling of your best work, including reports, papers, studies, brochures,
projects, presentations, etc. Besides print samples, you can also include
CD-ROMs, videos, and other multimedia formats.
Testimonials and Letters of Recommendations: A
collection of any kudos you have received–from customers, clients, colleagues,
past employers, professors, etc. Some experts even suggest including copies
of favorable employer evaluations and reviews.
Awards and Honors: A collection of any certificates
of awards, honors, and scholarships.
Conference and Workshops: A list of conferences,
seminars, and workshops you've participated in and/or attended.
Transcripts, Degrees, Licenses, and Certifications:
A description of relevant courses, degrees, licenses, and certifications.
Test Results: Document professional or graduate
school testing results (such as GRE subject test results).
Newspaper Clippings: Include articles and/or
photos that address your achievement.
Military records, awards, and badges: A listing
of your military service, if applicable.
References: A list of three to five people
(including full names, titles, addresses, and phone/email) who are willing
to speak about your strengths, abilities, and experience. At least one
reference should be a former manager.
You should keep your portfolio in a professional
Come up with an organizational system of categories
to put your items together. Sample categories are as follows: Work Experience,
Education, Awards and Certificates, Special Skills, Personal Accomplishments,
Background. Use tabs or dividers to separate the various categories.
Your portfolio should be no more than 25 pages. The
shorter it is, the better because an employer will only really absorb 6-10
Every page should have a title, a concise caption,
and artifact. Captions should explain the process you went through and
the resulting benefits, such as: "This is a flyer I designed for the promotion
of the American Marketing Association Membership Drive. We gained over
50 new members that year." Use the same type of action verbs you would
in a résumé.
Photocopy full-page samples to a smaller size, if
Make the layout and design consistent, and don't
get overly decorative—keep it clean and use lots of white space.
You may also consider including a disk or CD with
samples of your work. An on-line portfolio is another option.
Once you have put together your portfolio, you should
create a title page, table of contents, and introduction. The introduction
is your opportunity to tie together your portfolio contents and summarize
How Do I Use My Portfolio During
the Interview Process?
Have a faculty member or someone at the Career Center
review and critique your portfolio.
Develop a condensed version of your portfolio, containing
your most important accomplishments to leave with your interviewer. It
could be in an inexpensive report cover or folder. This provides something
physical to remind the interviewer that you were there. It also provides
you an occasion for an additional contact in a week or so to arrange for
its pickup. Make sure you do not include original materials in which you
only have one copy!
Mention that you have a portfolio in the reference
section of your resume as well as in your cover letter.
Bring the condensed version of your portfolio with
you to the interview and be prepared to present all the information within
it to the interviewer. You may not always want to leave a condensed version
of your portfolio. Interest in the position and cost should help you decide.
Announce at the beginning of the interview that you
have a portfolio and would like to present it at some point during the
You can use your portfolio to support your responses.
For example, the interviewer might say, "I see that you have worked on
your school newspaper. What were your favorite writing assignments?" You
might reply, "My favorite assignments include this article (turn portfolio
towards the interviewer and show them the article in the portfolio) that
required a lot of research and this creative writing piece (show article)
that I wrote for a special edition.
If you are unable to present it during the interview,
begin the time allotted for questions by mentioning that you would like
to present your portfolio.