by Rachel Vilsack
I once applied to a job that required a writing sample. The employer wanted to be sure that I had strong writing skills, since the job included authoring technical reports and articles for both professional and general audiences. I remember submitting my writing portfolio, which showed the range of writing experience I had. (And I got the job!) A professional portfolio can be very helpful in demonstrating your skills and talents to prospective employers. Is a portfolio right for you?
What is a Professional Portfolio?
A career portfolio is a collection of resources that highlight a job seeker’s skill set. Ultimately, it’s a self-marketing tool that you can share with a prospective employer or bring with you on a job interview.
- Work samples, which could include writing, presentations, photographs, or other creative projects
- Volunteer activities
- List of references
- Letters of recommendation
- Copies of educational achievements, licenses, certificates, or awards
- Military records
- Personal value statement
Depending on your career goal or situation, a portfolio could include even more targeted information or research you’ve done about the company. For instance, a recent graduate might include copies of their transcripts or examples of classwork projects. A job seeker trying to break into a new industry or occupation might identify transferable skills important to prospective employers in their new field.
Portfolios – Paper or Online?
Career portfolios come in many forms. A paper portfolio is often organized in a binder with dividers or in a folder. Each section should be clearly labeled. Depending on size, it may be something you share and leave with employers after a job interview. This attention to detail may set you apart from other applicants. (Remember to includes copies of materials, not original documents that you won’t be able to get back!)
An online portfolio can be an effective – and quick – way of sharing your work samples with prospective employers, references, and others in your network. Link your portfolio to your online networking profiles to provide even more context.
There are other free and subscription-based portfolio sites available which may be good options depending on your needs. eFolioMinnesota is a free e-portfolio site for Minnesota students and job seekers, sponsored by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.
With eFolioMinnesota, you can:
- Post information about your skills, interests, knowledge, and goals.
- Attach documents to demonstrate your achievements, such as a resume, work samples, and course syllabuses.
- Add interactive features like audio, video, and surveys.
- Store up to 50MB of content in your site.
- Modify your eFolio pages as you continue your education and career growth plans.