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Home  > Article

Who Needs a Portfolio? You Do!

By Aimee Whitenack

Artists, architects, and writers have used portfolios for years as a way to tangibly display their craft and experience. But are these creative professionals the only ones who could benefit from carting a portfolio into an important interview?

Build your own online portfolio

More and more, job-seekers use "professional portfolios" that extend the traditional boundaries
It's not just common practice for artists, architects, and writers to bring their portfolios to interviews; it's expected practice. How else is an employer to judge an artist's work? It simply makes sense.

But more and more, there's been talk of "professional portfolios," portfolios that extend the traditional boundaries to include different types of professionals and various kinds of "artifacts."

Why is everyone talking about portfolios now?
Statistics tell us that today's professionals are switching jobs (and industries) much more frequently than professionals of the past. As such, people are interviewing more often. Finding a good way to convince others of your skills, abilities, and qualities has become a critical task for job seekers. By collecting artifacts as you move through your career, the job search becomes a much more organized process. The scramble to look for good writing clips or the slides from that awesome presentation you gave is eliminated.

What exactly is a professional portfolio? A professional portfolio is a collection in progress, one that represents the work-related events in your life thus far (though work-related skills can be developed in non-work-related activities). The portfolio provides evidence of your abilities and creates a much fuller picture of what you could offer as a future employee.

What do you put in there? For starters, your resume. From there, you have a great deal of leeway. Professional portfolios range anywhere from a few pages to 20 or more. (We think the fewer the better.) If you're an engineer, do you have a product you want to whip out and demonstrate for a potential employer? When an interviewer asks about the turnaround you facilitated in your last job, ask if he'd like to see a bar graph of the company's savings. Some more suggestions:

  • Reports or research summaries
  • Graphics for annual report
  • Sales percentage increases
  • Published articles
  • Newspaper clippings in which you're mentioned
  • A photo of a product you helped develop
  • A photo of artwork
  • Your college transcript
  • Awards or certificates (from college sports teams, volunteer organizations, etc.)
  • Your personal mission statement
  • Professional licenses
  • Contact information for personal references and past employers

Just one note: be sure not to divulge proprietary information of any kind. If you have written a report while employed, your employer is normally considered the owner. Be especially careful of showing sales figures, computer programming or business development plans.

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