Whether you’re a recent grad or a college student who is looking toward the future, figuring out your next move can be a bit overwhelming. You want to stand out from the competition and make employers take notice.
With this list of career portfolio examples, you’ll be well on your way.
What is a career portfolio?
The career portfolio is one of the most important steps towards securing a job. It’s not a resume where you only list your skill set, work experience, and achievements. It’s not a cover letter either, where you write a few lines about yourself, your qualifications, and why an employer should hire you.
A career portfolio is a professional collection unique to you—that includes things such as skills, work experience, and qualifications. Your portfolio highlights concrete examples and demonstrates the validity of the things you say about yourself (in your resume, cover letter, or during a face-to-face job interview).
Whether you create a career portfolio for a specific job application or to apply to several workplaces is up to you. Previously, portfolios were mainly used in creative fields like art and graphic design, to showcase their work samples.
However, they are now considered advantageous for everyone. Why, you ask? A professional portfolio has several benefits, including:
It makes any intangible personal information tangible.
It enhances your credibility and boosts your confidence.
It keeps track of your professional development.
It draws the attention of a recruiter to any key information.
Items to include in a career portfolio
When you start preparing a professional portfolio, make sure to add the following items below. These career portfolio examples will guide you in the process.
Start compiling your career portfolio with personal information to introduce yourself to a prospective employer. This information includes your full name, email address, and contact number. If you’re creating an online portfolio, you can also link to any website or social media profile, i.e., your LinkedIn profile, to provide samples of your work.
For example, if you’re a motion graphics designer, link to the Facebook or Instagram account you use to exhibit your projects or freelance gig’s website. To apply as a public relations specialist, insert a link to any social media account or website you use to publicize your work.
Add a personal statement or an “About me” section that would give the recruiter a glimpse of your personality and work philosophy. Keep it as short and concise as possible, with no more than 150 words. Think about your career goals and why the profession is important to you. Check out the example below:
“I am a recent marketing graduate with combined expertise in digital marketing and content strategy. I have been committed to building my career in digital marketing since I began managing my small and successful freelance gigs for 3 years now, along with my studies. I enjoy watching my ideas and skills transform into innovative content marketing strategies that drive solutions and boost business performance . I am seeking a position in a leading digital marketing agency, where I can use my skills to make a difference in my clients’ lives and further develop as a professional.”
Once you’ve finished compiling your contact information and personal statement, include a concise career summary that will give your prospective employers a quick view of your professional self. A career summary will provide a brief overview of your relevant professional experience and how you’ve applied skills in real-life scenarios.
It’s always useful to use numbers or percentages to increase its reliability. Continuing the hypothetical scenario in the above example, you should mention the number of clients you have worked with on your freelance gigs and highlight your best work by including the percentage increase in client sales or any other performance criteria.
These specific facts will support your qualifications and set you apart from other candidates. Here is another example:
“During my marketing internship at the XYZ Company, I worked closely with my marketing manager to implement new social media marketing strategies and campaigns. I also curated content for the company’s different social media channels and augmented the call-to-action through Facebook by 30% in 3 months. I am capable of bringing extensive knowledge of social media marketing programs to your organization, along with my exemplary idea-generation and communication skills.”
I love looking at a resume that’s easy to read and tells you a compelling narrative of the candidate’s story—a big picture outline of who they are—followed by a list of accomplishments that weaves in with the key points mentioned in the summary. The ability to put years of experience in a one-page document that invokes interest says a lot about the person’s communication and presentation skills.
As the quote above indicates, a resume that can showcase the art of storytelling goes a long way in impressing a recruiter. However, this does NOT mean that your resume has to be a one-pager. As long as you can tell an impactful story about yourself on more than one page effectively, you’re good to go.
Too much information on one page can potentially ruin its visual appeal. At the same time, make sure that your resume is not too long. Update the resume with work experiences that match the job description. It’s unwise to let any unnecessary information take up space. Follow this resume outline to guide you.
Skills and accomplishments
Although your skills and accomplishments are part of your resume, a career portfolio demands a separate list for each to make them stand out. This is where you get to make them specific.
Your skills and accomplishments could be related to any professional experience as a volunteer, student, or part-time employee. You get the opportunity to write about yourself and your experience in detail.
A list of marketable skills
Your first post-graduate entrance into the job market is more about your marketable skills and less about where you went to college for a particular degree. Graduates with the problem-solving, technical, and communication skills that employers want can gain a 30% salary premium. So, don’t hesitate to display your unique skills to a potential employer.
As a multi-skilled job seeker, you might decide to apply to jobs for which the required skills are similar but not the same, i.e., business consultant and business analyst. Here, you have the liberty to make your skill set unique to each job description.
Furthermore, describe the work setting in which you applied those skills. For instance:
“My leadership skills equipped me to lead and coordinate the activities of the content creation team of X (insert number here) employees. I used my communication skills to clearly articulate problems and progress to top management through my eye for aesthetic and engaging presentations.”
A list of accomplishments
These career portfolio examples will explain how to prove your value-adding capabilities to a prospective employer. It’s advisable to separate your accomplishments into different segments according to different jobs. Accomplishments also go hand-in-hand with numbers or percentages. Let’s look at the examples below:
“I won the Best Intern Award and was promoted to the junior marketer position at the end of a 6-month internship period. As a junior marketer, I contributed X% to the company’s sales from its promotional campaigns.”
“My team became the champion in the XYZ competition and won a $5,000 reward.
Samples of your work
Work samples are the best means of showcasing your professional experience and adding greater credibility to whatever you mentioned in your career summary, resume, and lists of skills and accomplishments.
Unlike a link to your website or social media platform, which will likely contain all of your work samples, this should include only your best work—typically, projects or examples that exhibit a wide range of skills.
For samples of your work, aim for quality over quantity. Examples might include copies of your newsletters, marketing plans, sales figures, graphics design work, presentations, reports, etc.
You can also mention, especially if you don’t have enough work experience, your best volunteering or community service work. Feel free to add any significant work experience you gained by participating in college clubs or extra-curricular activities.
You should also briefly mention any positive feedback you received on your example, i.e., a comment on a blog post or performance appraisal on a project.
A list of professional development activities
Listing your professional development activities is a great way of showing your potential employers that you’re proactive when it comes to continued education. It demonstrates your dedication to your career and enthusiasm for learning new things.
Give your potential employer the confidence that you will continue to work on your professional development. Show off all the relevant offline or online courses you have completed, the internships you’ve done, the certifications you’ve earned, and the workshops, seminars, or conferences you have attended (relevant being the keyword here).
References and testimonials/letters of recommendation
Make sure to insert a list of 3-5 people, including at least one past employer, as professional references. The remaining 2-4 people could be your professors, clients, colleagues, or customers.
They must all be willing to talk about your skills, experiences, strengths, and accomplishments. Write down their full names, designations, and contact information.
Additionally, request them to write testimonials or letters of recommendation for you. These will help a recruiter easily see you through their eyes while reading the portfolio. You can also take the opportunity to include copies of positive employer reviews in this segment.
Now that you have gone through our career portfolio examples, take a look at the following bonus tips.
Ensure that the presentation of your portfolio is visually appealing with appropriate colors and consistent formatting.
Don’t forget to proofread the document and create some copies after completion.
Consider using a website like WordPress to have access to a wide range of templates and enjoy high control over your online portfolio.
CTA: What to do next?
Promote your career portfolio
Try to market your portfolio as much as you can on your LinkedIn profile and other social networking accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. You may also register on a particular job site to post your online portfolio. Your portfolio will then be sent to prospective employers. Several job sectors, such as psychology, have a professional association and website for job seekers to promote their portfolios.
Regularly update the portfolio
Your portfolio is always going to be a work in progress throughout your career. As you gain more work experience, acquire more skills, accomplish more, and undergo further professional development, be sure to regularly update your portfolio and remove outdated items.
It will also enable you to monitor your career progress and identify areas of improvement. Match the portfolio information to the job description before each job application and interview. Even if you use a printed portfolio, keep an online copy for making updates from time to time.
Don’t get too swayed by the idea of getting a high-paid job soon. Careers take time to build, so start spending wisely in college to save enough money for a rainy day.
Prepare for your job interview
Talk to fellow students or colleagues, talk with a career counselor or coach, and read/watch any reliable material on interview preparation.
Don’t give your portfolio to interviewers at the beginning because they would likely read the whole thing right then. Don’t share it at the end either because interviewers will usually not have the time to read it. It’s best to use the portfolio during a job interview. Answer questions along the way and let the portfolio back you up.
Curating your portfolio the right way can really make a world of difference in your career—so take the time and care to show employers the value you would bring.