Are you looking for tips for creating a career portfolio? An attractive portfolio that shows off examples of your work and highlights your skills is a great way to distinguish yourself from other candidates when you are looking for a job. Here are a few tips you can use to create an attractive portfolio that will really help you stand out to hiring managers.
Five Tips for Creating a Career Portfolio
1. Select Binder or Case
Your career portfolio should be assembled in a binder or portfolio case, depending on the size of the items that you plan to include. If your work samples can be showcased effectively on 8 ½ X 11 sheets of paper, a quality binder with sheet protectors can be a good choice. If, however, you need to showcase larger work examples, such as original artwork, a large zippered portfolio will be a better option.
No matter what type of binder or case you select, be sure to select one that looks professional and is set up in a manner that will easily allow you to add or remove items. Choose a solid, neutral color binder or case made of a high quality material like leather or quality vinyl. You can find appropriate binders and cases for portfolios at office supply stores like Office Depot, Office Max and Staples, as well as specialty stationery retailers.
2. Prepare Introductory Section
The introductory section of your portfolio should feature information about you that is relevant to someone who is considering you for a job. Begin with your resume and follow it with a separate page that lists names and contact information for your professional references or actual letters of reference. If you are just getting started in your career and have limited or no work experience, include the names of teachers who can vouch for your professionalism and other people that you have gotten to know through activities that you have participated in over the years. You may also want to include a statement of career goals or your personal mission statement.
3. Choose Work Samples
Select examples of your work that will highlight your unique skills and experience to prospective employers. You can include projects you have completed for school as well as work samples that you have put together specifically for the purpose of demonstrating skills to prospective employers. If you have real-world experience and you have samples of your work that can be included without violating the confidentiality of current or former employers or clients, include it as well. Be sure that any items you include truly showcase the best examples of what you can do.
Samples can include a variety of items relevant to the type of job you hope to obtain, including:
- Lab reports
- Lesson plans
- Original artwork
- Presentation outlines
- Project proposals
- Research papers
- Writing samples
- Additional items
4. Assemble Your Portfolio
Put your portfolio together following a logical format that is both attractive and easy-to-follow. Put a separator tab between the introductory section and your work samples. Use high quality plastic sheet protectors to hold each item that you put into your binder, or appropriate protective covers if you are using a larger portfolio case to keep your samples in top condition. Label any items that require explanation.
5. Quality Control
Make sure that everything you include is professionally formatted, attractively presented and free from errors before you show it to a prospective employer. Review it yourself closely, then ask another trusted person (or two!) to look it over and make suggestions for improvement.
Using Your Career Portfolio
Putting together an attractive career portfolio will only benefit you if you keep it current and use it appropriately. Once you decide to assemble a portfolio, start making a point of adding work examples to it as you complete projects that showcase your skills and abilities. As you grow and evolve as a professional, you will need to remove early work examples and replace them with newer items.
When you have an opportunity to interview for a job, be sure to take your portfolio with you. When the interviewer asks you to share why you think you are right for the position, you can use the portfolio to illustrate your answers with practical examples of what you have accomplished.