Career Advice

Creating a Work Portfolio
Staff posted on December 15, 2010 |
Sometimes, candidates are highly skilled in their area of expertise, but have a little trouble conve...

Sometimes, candidates are highly skilled in their area of expertise, but have a little trouble conveying this to prospective employers. A Work Portfolio can help do the talking for you, and you apart from the rest of the field. Not many applicants use one, so maybe you should…

What is a Work Portfolio? A work portfolio is an aid that will give the employer a sense of how your skills, experience and work ethic contributed to a specific project. Portfolios can be in the format of a CD, a slideshow, a website, posters, letters, awards, certificates, recommendations or anything else that helps you show off your skills. As a side note, Work Portfolios not only aid in getting a job, they also can help with getting a raise or promotion.

What Type of Portfolio is Best? What type of portfolio suits you best really depends on the skills you have and the position you are applying to. It would make no sense for a computer programmer to come in with a paper trail that demonstrates his artistic abilities. However, in the case of a civil engineer, a portfolio of drawings would certainly fit the bill. However, being the 21st Century, all of these drawings might be better demonstrated through the use of a web-based portfolio. It would also mean you have one less thing to remember for the interview.

If you choose to use an online portfolio you may run into problems, such as if there is no computer available to you at the interview. If you plan on using an online portfolio, you might consider bringing your own computer, and even housing the portfolio on the hard drive. If you choose to use an online portfolio make sure that the navigation is simple, any graphics you use load quickly, and that the content speaks to the position at hand.

A Guide to Creating a Portfolio Starting a portfolio is pretty straightforward. Begin to compile a collection of samples for each interview. As you go from one interview to another, you will likely need different samples to convey your skills for each position. Because of this, your portfolio will continue to grow. Somewhere down the line, you will be able to pick and choose which parts of your portfolio you use on the fly in an interview. This will of course be determined by the questions being asked by the employer. Each particular piece of your portfolio should demonstrate a particular piece of knowledge or skill set you have.

Also, make sure the quality of work is fairly consistent across all works included. Otherwise, the employer might think the portfolio reflects inconsistency in your work, or worse yet, that the work is not your own.

Finally, you might want to include samples from various points in the progression of a project. This gives the employer an idea of your thought process and how you move from one phase of a project to another.

Interview Time Incorporating your portfolio into the interview is not really any different than answering questions. There is the typical give-and-take of conversation, but rather than just talking about something, you can let the interviewer know you have an example to show. When you are finished answering the question with your visual aid, close the portfolio and wait for the next question.

If you choose to use an online portfolio, make sure you know where everything is. The best way to do so is practice so that when you make the presentation, everything runs smoothly.

Keep presentations of each piece of your portfolio short. Respect the interviewers time and avoid going on and on about everything in your portfolio. Limit presentations only to pertinent information. Finally, never give out originals. You will need these in the future.

A Few Things to Remember There are a few things to consider when using Work Portfolios. If it is a physical portfolio, you may want to drop it off prior to the interview to give the interviewer some time to review it. Show up early, introduce yourself, and explain that you are dropping off your portfolio for the interviewer to look at prior to your interview. Dress as you would for an interview, and make sure to drop your name.

Perhaps the most important part is that it cannot do all the talking for you. Part of the interview process is meant to give interviewers a sense of how you interact with people. Relying solely on portfolio material could do you more harm than good.

Finally, as with any interview, make sure you follow-up after the interview. When doing so, you can remind the employer of the portfolio pieces you presented so the employer recalls which of the candidates he or she is speaking to.

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