Presenting yourself to the employer - your portfolio of skills and achievements

Writers in most cases keep a portfolio of the projects, completed, courses attended and presented, and copies of their best work to show to potential clients and employers. A Job search portfolio however, is not for writers only. Any person, whether you are contract worker, permanent employee, or a job hunter, should invest the time to compile a professional job search portfolio.

Why the need for a job search portfolio?

When you go for an interview the portfolio is used to show samples, letters of recommendation, awards and even multimedia presentations of what you are capable of doing. You can see it as a visual aid in the interview. Apart from this, a properly and well constructed portfolio provides an overview of your qualifications, skills and potential which cannot be obtained in the same manner through your CV. It is not a replacement of the CV; in fact the CV forms part of it.

The process of compiling the job search portfolio enables you to identify the areas where you excel and are interested in. It thus helps you to focus your job hunting on a specific industry.

Presentation of the job search portfolio

It is recommended that you invest in a three ring binder. The leather type may be more expensive, but will help to enhance the feeling of professionalism. The zipped type is even better, but if your budget is tight, you should at least try to get a neat and professional looking three ring binder with pockets where you can insert CDs.

Also invest in dividers to help organize the information into separate categories. Include a table of contents to make it easy to locate a specific section for both the prospective employer and yourself.

Apart from the normal job search portfolio, try to also get a web space where you can create an online profile. This is especially useful when you apply for overseas jobs or projects or when the employer is not in the same town as you are.

Apart from the web and the manual portfolio, you can also create a CD or DVD presentation with all your work organized in files and made searchable through links.

Content of the job search portfolio

Get all your documentation together and conduct research where necessary since you will need to include the following as part of your portfolio:

Objectives and career goals

Include a section to state what your main objectives are and include the industry where you would like to work. Write three copies for different sectors and keep the one in your portfolio for the main industry field that interests you. Keep the other two in a separate folder. If you find a job in one of those sectors, you already have the objectives section and can replace the current one for a specific interview.


Include a summary profile of you main interests, career experience and qualifications.

Career statement

Include a three sentence statement of your main values, also called personal mission. Have a look at the Mission Statement section of for help.

Your CV

Include a one to three page CV. Select the appropriate format for instance, chronological, functional or combination. It includes your employment history, skills, accomplishments and qualifications. For help on selecting the correct format, you can make use of the section on CV writing. Make an additional copy for scanning and faxing purposes. For help on this you can use the section on the distribution of your CV. The scannable CV should only include text, have enough white space and should be in an easy to read font such as Arial or Verdana in 11 or 12 points on white bond pager.

Create three CVs that can be used for three different career fields.


Make a detailed list of skills such as computer literacy, typing etc. Also include a separate section for soft and transferable skills. Also include examples of application to prove your skill in a particular area.


List major achievements throughout your career. Include awards and outstanding performance examples.

Work examples

Include samples of your best work. You can also include a CD. Check and double check relevancy and grammar.

Published work

Include a list of published work such as brochures, reports, proposals, articles etc.


List all the workshops, seminars, conventions, conferences etc. attended with the dates and titles. If you made a presentation, state it as well.

Letters of recommendation

Include copies of letters of recommendation and testimonials to enhance your career. Also include a list of references that can be contacted. Make sure that you have requested permission before you list someone as a reference.

Membership of professional organizations

Include a list and letters to show that you belong to or have belonged to professional organizations with contact numbers.

Documentation for education

Make a list of your qualifications, institutes and dates obtained. Also include copies of the qualifications as proof. This should also include any certificates, registrations and licenses as well as social security number or ID number and driver's license copy.

Military record

If you have attended the army, then also list your rank and awards with certificates where applicable.

Volunteer work

List places and projects you have worked on and contact numbers. Also explain your role there.


List three relevant interests and if you belong to a club, also include details.

Take some time to prepare your job search portfolio and update it at least once every three months where necessary to ensure that you are always ready for a new opportunity should it come your way.