Portfolios are a way to help make you stand out from the crowd in an interview and in your job search. Portfolios show your potential employer a tangible track record of your accomplishments in a particular field. Having a succinct portfolio shows not only your achievements and skills but also that you are a serious candidate for a given job.
Depending on the type of employment you are looking for, there are two main types of portfolios: paper and online. Having a portfolio will make you stand out by showing proof of your abilities. Certain jobs, such as journalism, photography, and different types of design work, often require portfolios to show proof of your work. But there are advantages to creating a portfolio to bring to an interview, even if it is not common for the type of job you are applying for, as the interviewers will see the extra effort you went to while preparing for the job interview. The contents of your portfolio will depend on the specialized type of career you are looking for, but there is a general setup for how to format them:
- Include an index of what it contains.
- A résumé showing key accomplishments and skills.
- Show quality, not quantity—fewer impressive examples of your work are better than showing every little piece of work you have done in your entire career.
- Examples of your work with the most relevant and recent coming first, but also ending on a strong example to leave a lasting impression.
There are many online portfolios on the web, so be sure to design one that will stand out from others to give you an edge in your job search. If you are looking for a designing job, an example of your work will show what no amount of talking and writing could. Make your online portfolio clean, simple, and informative. It is easy to want to show all your work on an online portfolio, but that will lead to a cluttered and overbearing webpage, which recruiters will not have time or patience to look at.
These are some general tips to keep in mind when building portfolios:
- Know what type of position you are looking for, so you can cater your accomplishments and skills toward it.
- Design online portfolios so they are easy to navigate.
- Keep updating it and adding your best, latest work.
- Provide context for the examples, but avoid lengthy introductions to the work.
- Create a cohesive unit of your accomplishments, so they flow smoothly from one section to another.
Portfolios are becoming more popular for a variety of different jobs, but even for jobs that do not require portfolios, you can stand out from your competitors by creating one.