Landing a decent job these days is no easy feat, but thankfully, you can boost your chances of success by just taking one simple step – arm yourself with a professional work portfolio. Here we will look at what a portfolio is, what it contains, and why you should have one
What is a Portfolio?
While your resume is all about summarising your skills, knowledge and experience; your portfolio expands upon it by taking a deeper look at all those strengths and talents you claim to have. Think of it as your complete guide to what makes you and your work so special.
A portfolio may consist of pages in a binder, a CD, a video, a book or even a custom-designed website and it can include anything from text, sketches, files and photos to audio, video and animated elements.
While portfolios were once used primarily in fields such as sales, marketing and the arts; nowadays, everyone from teachers, managers and chefs to tradespeople and data scientists are using portfolios to successfully advance their careers.
What to Include in a Portfolio
There is no right or wrong way to build a portfolio; however, it is vital that it’s neat, organised, visually appealing and of course, up-to-date. Ideally, the following important elements should be included as well:
- Cover Page
- Table of Contents
- Introduction/Personal Statement
- Professional Work History
- Volunteer History
- Samples of Your Best Work
- A copy of Your Resume
- Contact Details
The Benefits of Using a Portfolio
Few things will do more to boost your job search success than creating a professional portfolio. Here is a brief look at some of the many benefits you can expect.
There is no better way to prepare for a job interview than by putting together a portfolio; after all, spending all that time examining your skills, knowledge and achievements will ensure that they are fresh in your mind during the interview. Building your portfolio can also highlight any gaps in your skillset.
A portfolio can help to remove any doubts regarding who you are, what you’ve done and what you are capable of by providing all the photos, stats, reports, awards and details you need to back up your claims. Testimonials from bosses, supervisors, clients or even community organisations are particularly valuable, as it is always easier for someone to trust you when there are plenty of others singing your praises already.
It can be tough remembering important details or wording your answers perfectly during the stressful confines of an interview; however, with a portfolio on hand you will essentially have a cheat sheet right there with you. Having access to all of those facts, stats and examples will seriously boost your confidence and ensure that you can always showcase your credentials in the best possible light, no matter how nervous or excited you may be.
Stand Out From the Competition
When you’re applying for a job, first impressions matter and a portfolio will make it clear that you are enthusiastic, prepared and serious about getting the position. Your portfolio also provides a great way to shine a little extra light on some of your most impressive work, as opposed to just relying on the summarised versions in your resume and cover letter. Depending on the industry, you may be one of the few candidates to even bother preparing a portfolio, making it an extremely easy way to stand out.
Always be Ready for an Opportunity
With an up-to-date portfolio, you will be ready to take advantage of any and all opportunities regardless of whether your dream job suddenly appears with an imminent deadline for applications or a chance for a promotion opens up unexpectedly at your current workplace. If you ever decide to ask for a raise your portfolio can help with that too by providing a stylish, thorough and professional resource with which to support your case.
How to Make a Portfolio of Your Work
Knowing how to create a portfolio is an essential skill to have, as sometimes just having all your talents and skills listed isn’t as effective as displaying it visually. Whether it’s an online portfolio or a design portfolio, these tips will help you create one that showcases just what you’re capable of.
1. Get inspired
Start by checking out the portfolios of other professionals in your field, because not only will this give you a sense of the latest industry trends, it is guaranteed to get your creative juices flowing. A design folio sample can help you examine what areas stand out the most to you and determine what might stand out to a recruiter. Don’t be afraid to reach out for tips and advice either, as you’re sure to find plenty of people willing to share their knowledge and expertise. There’s also plenty of portfolio examples online which can help you see what a professional folio includes and how it is presented.
2. Choose a format
The right format for your portfolio will depend largely upon the position you are applying for, with the ideal choice being whatever will show your skills and talents best. If you wish to create an online portfolio, sites such as Behance and Squarespace provide a huge array of user-friendly options, where the only rule for creating physical portfolios is to use
uge array of user-friendly options, where the only rule for creating physical portfolios is to use high-quality materials. (Note: Many professionals choose to have two versions of their portfolio – an online portfolio for networking and a physical copy for taking to interviews).
3. Create a master version
Collect any and all information relating to your professional career thus far and use it create a master version of your portfolio. Apart from keeping all that important information organised and safe, this will make it easier to create smaller custom portfolios for specific jobs in future.
4. Customise it
Rather than send in your entire master portfolio when applying for a job, create a custom interview portfolio designed to suit the role that you are after. Include only the information that is directly related to the job and tailor your cover page, introduction and/or personal statement according to the position.
5. Use it!
Now that your portfolio is complete make it a central part of your job application process. If your portfolio is online, include a link to it in your resume, cover letter and all of your professional profiles; otherwise, simply mention that you have one and are happy to forward a copy on request. If you are called in for an interview, let the hiring manager know that you plan on bringing your portfolio so that they know to expect it.
Whether you’re fresh out of school, looking for a new challenge, or are searching for a stylish, modern, and effective way to advance your career, you’ll be amazed at the difference that a professional portfolio can make