A Career Portfolio Can Give You A Competitive Edge
A Career Portfolio Can Give You A Competitive Edge
Advance your career. Develop a career portfolio that demonstrates what you can offer a potential employer, business investor, or new client.  
Portfolios provide considerably more information than a cover letter and resume alone. Career portfolios use words and pictures, as well as an array of multi-media formats.  A portfolio is limited only by one’s imagination.
A portfolio includes work samples that show your qualifications and skills as well as relevant education and volunteer activities. It documents the scope and quality of your experience and training. Your portfolio demonstrates what you’ve accomplished and can offer the employer. Take your portfolio to job interviews to show what you can contribute to the prospective position.
In addition to being shared during job interviews, portfolios can be used creatively as employee evaluation instruments. They can be part of business plans, project proposals, or used to market new business ventures. Portfolios can document student learning in educational courses, and demonstrate employee growth and improvement when seeking job advancement.
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Collect and keep all papers, documents, photographs, recommendation letters and work samples that support your accomplishments.
Collect items relevant to your potential “audience.”  Show them that you can do the job.  If your audience is a job interviewer, demonstrate, by referring to past accomplishments, how you can perform job tasks. If your audience is your supervisor in your annual performance review, focus on your accomplishments over the past year. 
Keep your portfolio current, and consider its design. While there is no one-way to make a portfolio, it should be neat, visually attractive and carefully organized.  Aim for simplicity and brevity. Evaluate your portfolio from the reader’s perspective. 
Be creative. Some portfolios are kept in a professional three-ring binder with a table of contents and dividers to separate various parts. This format can range between three to 20 pages and may contain colorful graphics. Electronic portfolios are growing in popularity. They can be on the World Wide Web or on a CD-ROM, floppy disk or zip disk. They can be set up as power point presentation or include a power point slide show.
The portfolio should be brief. Avoid putting too many ideas or bulky items in the portfolio. Select your best samples. It’s better to include five work samples that match job requirements than10 with few applicable skills. 
What should a career portfolio include? Sample categories are outlined below. Always demonstrate reasons why the employer should hire you. Showcase relevant work skills and accomplishments, educational and other experience. 
  • Start with a table of contents to give the interviewer a concise overview of the portfolio contents. Consider including an introductory page summarizing your career, describing work interests, and stating your three year goals. Indicate how your goals relate to the company’s mission statement and goals.
  • Include your resume. Outline your job objective, skills summary, relevant work experience, accomplishments and education, using a chronological or functional format.  
  • Highlight major skills and accomplishments related to your employment goal. Provide samples of relevant research publications, reports, graphics, published articles, projects completed and presentations. Consider videos, scanned images from the work site, and other multimedia formats. Think about including personal accounts of how you used your knowledge to get things done.
  • Supply testimonials and letters of recommendations from customers, clients, colleagues, former employers, professors, and favorable employer reviews. 
  • Include awards, honors and scholarships. 
  • List conferences, workshops and seminars in which you've participated.
  • Record degrees, licenses, certifications and transcripts of relevant courses. 
  • Outline professional development activities. Include professional memberships and committees. Consider including a photo of you accepting an award.
  • List community service activities. Include volunteer or pro bono work completed, particularly if it relates to your employment goal. 
  • Provide three to five references. Include full names, titles, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of professionals who are willing to speak about your strengths and experience. At least one reference should be a former manager.
Build a separate portfolio for each audience. Use relevant information tailored to each goal. If you’re using a portfolio to accompany a proposal for a new business venture, it could contain an analysis of customer needs and examples of how the needs can be addressed.  
When you want to document learning that has occurred in a specific area, show evidence of skills learned and related cognitive development. When using the portfolio as an employee learning and evaluation tool, demonstrate a history of the employee’s accomplishments by recording job competencies and improvements. 
Learn how Questers, described in Questers Dare to Change Your Job and Life, use career portfolios to move forward in their desired careers.