A professional portfolio’s purpose is to show off your skills and abilities to potential employers. It’s essentially a visual extension of your Resume and Cover Letter, and because a picture is worth a thousand words, an employer can learn a lot about you just by glancing it over. Your portfolio is a great way to showcase your best examples of work to back up any skills you claim on your Resume and Cover Letter.
Foremost, the Portfolio distinguishes you from your competition. Very few people carry around portfolios so by having one, it will instantly give you a competitive advantage. Your portfolio organizes all your past accomplishments and combines them into one convenient place to showcase. This will easily impress a recruiter. Better yet, if you create copies, you can leave one behind for the recruiter to browse at their own leisure. People love to have something they can physically touch and play with so let them know they can write and take notes on their copy. Plus, by sitting on their desks, your Profile will be constant reminder of you.
How to Create a Professional Portfolio
Start off by assessing what you want your Portfolio to say about you. Think of it as a brochure that a business would use when trying to convince someone to become a customer. To do this, think of what skills, projects, and accomplishments would best fit you and most interest a recruiter. It can be whatever you feel is relevant to the interviewer. If you are someone who has different Resumes based on different types of skills you have, then go ahead and create a portfolio that would best fit each different type of Resume. At the end of the day, your portfolio should be reinforcing your personal brand’s image with the employer.
Here are some things that all portfolios should include:
- Table of Contents
- Career Summary
- Samples of relevant work (could be volunteer work, past projects, computer skills)
- Letters of Recommendation
- References List Page
- Awards and Honors
- Certifications and other other training
- Professional Affiliations (American Marketing Association etc.)
Many people choose to use a 3 ring binder to organize their portfolio. Depending on your financial situation, you can use nice leather one’s or basic one’s you can find at Target for a few bucks. If you’re leaving them behind, one from Target should work just fine. Try to keep the portfolio around 20 pages. Keep in mind that employers will want something they can browse through quickly. Make it easy for them by having large and easy to read titles on every page. Each page should consist of a title, caption and supporting evidence. An example of this would be:
Excel Experience: “Here is a 20 spreadsheet workbook I created in Excel as a Data Analyst at M&T Bank. $10 million dollars of bank transactions were analyzed using it.
Just like a Resume, have others look over the portfolio and get some feedback from them. Have more than one if possible.There isn’t any specific order to put items, but it’s suggested to put the most important stuff first. It makes the Portfolio easier to use during the interview if you can get to the important stuff fast. Yes, that’s right, you can use the portfolio during the interview. It’s a great way support something you just said such as, “I have extensive Excel abilities,” and then show them the page on Excel! Just remember that if you are leaving them behind, never include originals.