For some jobs, a portfolio can make all the difference between getting the job or ending up at the bottom of the “maybe” stack. If you need help creating a professional portfolio, try some of the tips listed below. You can create a digital portfolio or a paper portfolio. If you’re an artist, you can learn how to create a website portfolio with WordPress. The pros and cons of a paper portfolio versus a digital portfolio will be discussed after each portfolio type.
The Documents to Include in Your Portfolio
Included inside your portfolio should be professional documents, education and training you’ve received, activities and volunteer work you’ve done in the community, and any personal interests that might be relevant to the position you’re applying for. Each area of documents is detailed below.
- Professional Documents
These particular documents should include anything work-related. Your cover letter and resume should be the first two documents in your portfolio, and you should have extra copies just in case the employer requests a copy. Include thank you notes or letters of recommendation, testimonials from connections on LinkedIn, lists of professional references (with phone numbers included), any supervisor reviews you might have, and any work samples from your current and previous jobs.
You don’t need to have every item on the list, and there are some of you that likely don’t have all of these. The key is that any document you do include is complete and professional-looking. Your resume is useless if it looks like a child wrote it. Learn how to create an excellent professional resume so that you shine on interview day.
- Education and Training Received
If you have any past work experience, you likely received some kind of training. While much of your training will be included in what you list on your resume, you’re going to want to include any certificates of completion for training you attended. Workshops, seminars, and conferences are another great item to include in this area. Proof of these should include some kind of ticket stub.
You should have copies of any degrees, certifications, and licenses you have earned. Awards, academic honors, internships, and even copies of transcripts are also great items to have in this area. If a possible employer is interested in you, they’re going to want to see a summary of what you completed while in school. This is your chance to show them.
- Activities and Community Volunteer Work
Any business is going to be interested if you’ve volunteered in your community. There are even some businesses that will accept a blood donor’s card as being an active part of the community. In this area, you should include any volunteer or community work you’ve done. Be sure to include some kind of proof of your work. Learn how to cultivate a community to be a more attractive candidate for the position.
- Any Relevant Personal Interests
Depending on the position you’re applying for, you might want to include personal interests. Some good personal interests to include are any independent learning courses you might have, skills you taught yourself, foreign languages, writing skills, a mission statement, and anything else you might have worked on.
Creating a Paper Portfolio
When you start putting together your portfolio, you’re going to want somewhere to keep all of your documents. In order to look as professional as possible, you’re going to want to consider black, dark brown, or navy as the color for your portfolio. Some people use thin three-ring binders, and others use leather bound binders.
Creating an Online Portfolio
For some job opportunities, it might be easier to create an online portfolio. Google Sites is an excellent place to create an online portfolio because it’s free, and it gives you a great number of resources to use. Check out this sample Google Sites portfolio created. If you want more help on using a website for your portfolio, consider a class in creating a website resume.
The Pros and Cons of Each Type of Portfolio
- The Pros of a Paper Portfolio
Even in this digital age, many employers still like to look at paper copies of resumes, previous work, and reference letters. With a paper portfolio, they can also easily make copies of anything they require to add to your application file. Studies have shown that people who walk in carrying a portfolio, pad of paper, and a pen are more attractive as possible job candidates. This is because you show preparation and a determination to learn even without actually working for the company yet.
- The Pros of a Digital Portfolio
With a digital portfolio, you don’t need to carry so much paper to your interview. Most employers requesting a digital portfolio will request a link to the portfolio before the interview. This will allow them to print any information they need for your application file. You should still consider taking a pad of paper and a pen with you to your interview, however, to jot down any questions or notes you might have.
- The Cons of a Paper Portfolio
If you’re on a budget, it might be difficult to print pages and pages of documents. You will have to limit yourself, and limiting your portfolio is never a good thing. You could omit something that might just get you that dream job. Plus, limiting yourself means you can only apply for certain jobs that match your portfolio instead of adding and removing documents as needed to meet a job.
- The Cons of a Digital Portfolio
Not all employers use digital portfolios. If an employer requests a portfolio and you show up with a link to your website, you might just lose that job opportunity. Also, any documents that you list for download might not be downloadable for all viewers. If you upload all of your documents with a “.docx” extension, not all viewers will be able to download the documents. While this is an easy fix, it’s important to know that it’s a possible problem when creating a digital portfolio.
When creating a portfolio, you should probably play it safe. Create a paper and digital portfolio. By creating both types of portfolios, you will have one available no matter what the employer requests. Having a digital portfolio will also offer you the opportunity to have all of your paper documents available no matter where you are. If your school permits students and alumni to print for free, consider using that resource to print your paper portfolio. You can also use this same idea to print copies of your resume when you need them.