Differentiating yourself from other candidates with similar backgrounds is essential in today’s job market. One way to do that is by creating a portfolio.
Portfolios are not just for creative folks. Wherever your field or industry, a career portfolio can help set you apart.
If you haven’t heard the term, a career portfolio is used to showcase your accomplishments, training, and experience. Your current level and target position will help determine the contents.
Certainly, if you’re in a creative field, you want to have samples of your work. If you’re an executive a summary of ventures you designed, implemented, and led might prove valuable. Copies of articles and/or white papers you’ve authored can be a good addition too.
Depending on your current situation, some of the items you should consider including are:
- Cover Letter
- Copies of Letters of Recommendations
- Copies of Certificates, Certifications, and Licenses
- Copies of Transcripts
- Copies of Awards, Honors, or other Recognition
- Samples of work
- Summaries of Projects
- Positive Employment Reviews
While everyone should bring copies of their resume to every interview, a senior executive probably doesn’t need to bring copies of her university transcripts. Unless you’re targeting a position in academia.
Recent grads, even those just completing a MBA or other advanced degree, might want to bring transcripts and samples of his coursework or papers.
Letters of recommendation are good to have as it’s always better when someone else is stating on the record how great you are. Notes from happy clients can strengthen a sales professional’s candidacy. Cards from patients and/or their families can bolster those in health care.
There are several ways to put a portfolio together. While a 3-ring binder with plastic inserts would work, it may prove bulky. A small folder is another option. Just make sure that you bring copies not originals and the examples you select highlight your value as a candidate.
If you don’t have materials on hand, begin compiling them today. It’s better to have things you don’t need ready than to be scrambling for things you do need when your interview is tomorrow.
Although what you include in your career portfolio will change as your career progresses, having examples of the experience, training, and education you note on your resume and LinkedIn profile can be helpful during the job search process. It’ a concrete way to demonstrate your value.
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