An old job-hunting tool is making a big comeback. For decades, artists, photographers, architects, designers and writers in search of work, have used portfolios to showcase their abilities and qualities. Finally, others are discovering how portfolios can help them in their careers. Portfolios can help people in business and industry organize and document events in their lives. This information can greatly assist employees in moving within their current work environment more freely. More individuals are acting as independent contractors, selling their skills and capabilities whenever they can fill an employer’s needs. Realistically, few people work for only one employer for the length of an entire career.
Career portfolios are used to organize and document events in your life and contain very specific and critical information that’s relevant to your intended position as well as map out a plan for future success. It is a job-hunting tool that gives employers a complete picture of who you are, your experience, your education, your accomplishments, your skill sets, and what you have the potential to become. Your Career portfolio contains much more than a cover letter and resume can. It can be used in job interviews to showcase a point, to illustrate the depth of your skills and experience, or to use as a tool to get a second interview.
The most common items contained within this portfolio include (but are not limited to) personal information, evaluations, sample work, awards and acknowledgments. They are more in-depth than a resume, which is used to summarize the above in one or two pages. Career portfolios serve as proof of one's skills, abilities, and potential in the future.
Some benefits to creating a career portfolio are:
- Helps prepare for interviews
- Convince others of your skills, abilities and qualities
- Communicate clearly (focusing the interview conversation).
- Showcase your skills
- Demonstrate the results of your work
- Establish the habit of documenting your accomplishments and results
- Create a personal data base
- Assess your own progress in your career development
- See and evaluate the patterns in your own work preferences and values
Career portfolios are often kept in a simple three-ring binder or online as an Electronic portfolio and updated often. How do you make a portfolio? You start by developing a “collection” that contains all of your information. Much like a resume, you want to focus the temporary portfolio you’ll use for a specific event so that all the items are relevant to your audience and support your purpose. If your audience is an interviewer (for a job), you’ll want to focus the “job” portfolio so that evidence of your ability to do that job is crystal clear. Your “purpose” is to demonstrate that you have successfully accomplished the tasks represented in the portfolio (which should parallel the job description), to support your assertion that you can do the job.