Career Portfolio Dos and Don'ts

Your career portfolio is a unique opportunity to tell your professional story in vivid detail. Portfolios were once only thought of as tools for writers, designers and artists, now job-seekers in all categories are turning to career portfolios as an opportunity to give potential employers a complete picture of their skills.


Why a Career Portfolio?

Traditional job-hunting tools like resumes, cover letters and even interviews give employers a 2-dimensional view of your skills. A career portfolio opens new ways to view a job-seekers performance and can be used in a variety of ways to:

  • help you prepare for you interview, as you review and reorganize your portfolio to emphasize the job for which you're interviewing.
  • help you give a more dynamic interview by showcasing your talents in more of a presentation form.
  • help you notice "holes" in your experience or skills you can fill with workshops, forums or continuing education.

Unique Benefits of Online Portfolios

If you are making online employment applications, consider the convenience and versatility of an electronic portfolio. There are many online sites that offer updated portfolio services that help you build an online portfolio. Online services allow you to put everything from photos, samples, resumes, blogs, and links to sites you've worked on or submitted to, all at the fingertips of your interviewer.

An online portfolio gives potential employers immediate access to the information you want them to see--even before the interview if need be. It gives them computer access, at any time of day for as long as necessary. The information will never get lost. Potential employers can quickly reference it with others helping with the hiring process and there's no need for you to return to pick up a portfolio you left with them to review.

What to include in a Portfolio

Composing your career portfolio takes a critical eye, decisive editing and painstaking collection of materials. However, once you've completed the work, it's simply a matter of basic housekeeping skills to maintain. The portfolio can be a critical component in your successful job search that will benefit you throughout your career. Consider including:

  • resumes (draft multiple formats that highlight your different career expertise),
  • letters of professional recommendation,
  • award photographs or ribbons,
  • honors,
  • certifications,
  • professional creatives (articles, brochures, posters, ads, reports and flyers),
  • workshop brochures from professional events you've attended,
  • color charts (bar, pie, line) that give a visual account of time or money-savings you've brought to your previous position,
  • copy of seminar itinerary from ones you've attended or at which you've spoken.

Dos and Don'ts of Career Portfolios

  • Collect only items that are not proprietary, that you own or have the owner's permission to use.
  • Arrange items in order of importance and edit down to the pieces that show your skills and versatility most.
  • Include tabs or a table of contents to navigate the portfolio easily, in case your interviewer requests time to review it alone.
  • Always bring the portfolio to an interview.
  • Make copies of samples from the portfolio that you can leave behind.
  • Choose a versatile format for your portfolio that you can easily adjust to provide a customize layout that best displays the specific talents your potential employer is seeking.