How to Create a Career Portfolio

So, you are out job hunting, or maybe even haven't gotten that far yet. You have a lot of skills to bring to the table and you just don't see how they can fit on the 'requisite' one to two page resume. The answer to that is a recent development in the career development world: the career portfolio. A career portfolio contains examples of all of your best work, and can help you with your current job or help you with lining up your next job!


  1. Image titled Create a Career Portfolio Step 1
    Decide on the format. Depending on your career/job outlook, your career portfolio will take on different looks.
    • How will you use this portfolio? Will you take it with you to show in an interview? Will you send it with your resume or job application?
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    Spend some time deciding on a presentation binder to put it in. This is a very important step because, if you don't already know it, presentation is everything.
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    Look at your skills. What have you done? Can you get screen shots of it? Start with that and get screen shots and put them into a document and save it. Then print it out, preferably in color, to put in your notebook that you will be assembling.
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    Look at yourself the way prospective employer would look at you. You want your potential employer to believe that you are the answer to their employment dilemma. The meticulous attention to detail that it takes to create a good portfolio shows them initiative and preparation.
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    Choose items to show that showcase your skills. They should be the very best examples of your work.
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    Choose work samples that are relevant to the job you're seeking. If you're looking in multiple fields, have multiple portfolios.
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    Think ahead about how much time is likely to be spent on a particular item. Don't expect a prospective employer to sit there and read a fourteen page report, even if you did a great job.
    • Prefer visual examples of your work if they are available. Drawings, photos, diagrams, etc. won't compete for attention with you. Consider making screencasts.
    • Use smaller samples of larger works if they will take less time to explain. If someone is really interested in knowing more, you can send more later. A smaller piece can still be a great talking point.
    • If a written work is the best way to showcase your skills, you can send it, or portion of it, ahead to be read in advance. Alternatively, have it with you and describe it, summarizing what's inside and why it was important and valuable.
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    Customize your portfolio to a job description. Look at what the job description is seeking and select your work samples based on that.
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    Backup a digital copy of your work portfolio to keep it constantly updated. This way you'll stay always prepared for urgent interviews and will be able to update your portfolio quickly.


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  • If you have newspaper articles for your portfolio, try finding a PDF of the page your article was on, used Adobe Photoshop or other programs to shade all parts of the page that don't include your writing. Be sure to also add a zoomed-in, readable image of the article.
  • According to the University of Washington, a career portfolio can do the following:
    • Help you to prepare for interviews.
    • Help you to prove that you are capable of what you say you are.
    • To communicate clearly by allowing you to focus during your interview through the use of the portfolio.
    • Demonstrate the results of your work (with screen shots and examples of your work.)
    • Get you in the habit of documenting your work for that time in the future when you are job hunting, or maybe trying for that higher position, or even proving that you are a valuable member of the team).
    • Helps you to create a personal database to facilitate the creation of a resume, as well as your portfolio.
    • Allows you to assess your own progress in your development.
  • Presentation Binders can be found on line in a variety of places.
    • Wilson Jones
    • Avery[1]
    • Sam's Club[2]
    • And many others. Just go on your favorite search engine and type in 'Presentation Binder'.


  • If you're taking examples of your work on the job, be sure it's not information proprietary to the companies you've worked on. You can choose information that's not so central or proprietary (such as showing an overview or marketing brochure that's already public), obtain permission, or you can make up samples in your free time that are not proprietary information.

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Categories: Interview Skills