Career Advice

8 Items to Include in You Career Portfolio

min read
Vera Chan

What is a career portfolio and why is it important during your job hunt? The job market is as competitive as it gets. Competing with others in the same industry for the same role at the same company is tough. So how can you make yourself stand out? You can do this in-person or virtual interviews. But what if you haven't landed an interview yet? To get your foot through the door, you can do several things. This includes, tailoring your resume, cover letter, and putting together a career portfolio. 

What are the Benefits?

A career portfolio can provide visual aid. It can help you talk through your accomplishments. Think of it as a kind of support system. It can do part of the talking and you can add on to it. Walk the hiring manager through examples or projects during an interview. It particularly helps those who are nervous or whose strong point is not speaking.

What to Include in Your Career Portfolio

Traditionally a career portfolio might be shown in hard copy in person. It could include a binder with  plastic sleeves to protect your work. Nowadays, as people learn to work together remotely, there are online versions. This has become increasingly more common during the pandemic. There is a wide variety of documents a career portfolio can include, but you can consider the below.

1. Resume/Curriculum Vitae

Don't forget to tailor your resume. Not sure what the difference is between a resume and curriculum vitae? Read here. Open your 3-liner blurb with skills that fit the job description. You can then proceed to structure your CV, such as chronologically.

2. LinkedIn Profile (PDF)

Yes, you can save your LinkedIn profile in a pdf format. navigate to the buttons directly under your profile picture. Select 'more' and click 'Save to PDF'.

3. Cover Letter

You should also tailor your cover letter with your skills and experiences. Take a good look at the job description and connect the dots for best relevancy. Use a template if you need to.

4. Reference Letters

Include any words of recommendation from mentors or previous bosses. Some employers may only provide a letter of proof of employment. Where you can, include reference letters as they are more personal. Its strength lies in someone of stature vouching for you. Choose someone who is your co-worker or ideally someone higher than you. Here's how to ask for one.

5. Education Certificates

Compile a list of all your certificates that show your grades. Organise them from highest grade to lowest grade. While organising, questions you might get asked about your education. Include short course and online certificates as well for professional development. 

6. Awards

Awards are great for showing your strengths and are examples of success stories. This is an opportunity to talk about those with the interviewer. Or they can spark interest to invite you to an interview.

7. Projects

This is the same as above, Talk about projects you have led or have won and that were successful. This can also include voluntary work that speaks to your personality and interests.

8. Performance Reviews

Include any positive employment evaluations that show you are a good worker. These will show you are a valuable team member and employee to the company. Here's how to talk about them.


Top Tips

1. Confidentiality

Be careful not to reveal anything confidential from your previous or current employer. Get permission to include work or projects in your portfolio if so. 

2. Formatting

Have your career portfolio readily available. If someone reaches out to you for a job opportunity you could be interested in, you want to have it on the ready. Save it online on the cloud if it is not a personal website with your portfolio. You can use platforms such as Google Drive, One Drive or Dropbox. Make sure you open your share settings, so that you don't run into any permissions for viewing. This could slow down the process and make it less seamless. Remember, first impressions count.

Alternatively, save it on your phone under your files. If the job recruiter or hiring manager prefers an attachment you can send it to the on-the-go. This is handy for if you're not by a computer.

The Bottom Line

It's never too late to start building out your portfolio. At any point in your career it can come in handy and shows that you're well prepared and geared to go. It is worth updating your portfolio when you have time or in between jobs. If you're looking to change up your role or career change, you can also invest time in your portfolio then. Take a good look at your past experience and work on good examples and success stories to include. 

Just joined a new company and not sure if it is for you? Read Should You Quit That New Job.

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