Written by: Dillon Byrne, Eric Phomthevy
When diving into the professional world, it's practically mandatory to have a resume. Most employers are going to turn you away without one. If everyone has a resume, then how do you stand out? Well let's first define a resume as a document used by an individual to state the prior work experience and skills to their potential employers. These employers comb through multiple resumes with everyone claiming what skills they have. Anyone can claim to be adept in writing, web design, or any other content creation. It’s another thing to present proof.
Essentially, that's what a portfolio is. A collection relevant documents and prior projects that you can show your potential employer to provide a visual representation of your talents and skills.
The Portfolio is going to be a visual representation of you so first impressions are important. Your portfolio should not be a loose set of papers, but rather compiled and organized into a neet and presentable document. The first thing in your portfolio should be a title page. This page should include your name, address, email, phone number as well as the date the portfolio is being presented.
Next should be a cover letter. A blog about how to create a cover letter was written earlier in the semester if you would like an example. But this should be a brief summary of your strengths, skills, and goals. Following the cover letter should be the table of contents, highlighting all the major points in your portfolio with page numbers. Next should be your current resume.
Now we start getting into the meat of the portfolio. After your resume, you should have a statement about your current goals. If you are still in school, this should be your educational goals as well as what you hope gain out of reaching these goals. If you have graduated or are about to, this should be what your professional goals are. This section should not be all that long. A paragraph or two.
The next section is where you have a more detailed description of your work experience. You should have mentioned some previous jobs in your resume, but this section gives you a chance to expand on that. When an employer looks at a resume and a job title, he or she may not always know what that means or entells. This is also a section where you can add how and why you were an important player in that position, if relevant.
Next, the bulk of the portfolio. This section is where you place all of your supporting documentation. Meaning all the examples of prior work you wish to share. It is important to note that you should not put every single thing you have ever worked on in your portfolio. You should only put one or two example of each type of document you wish to provide. For example, if you have several news articles written, choose the top one that you feel shows your skillset the best.
The next section is where you place any letters of recommendation you have aquired. And following it, you should place any relevant awards you have been given. Next, let’s explain why having a portfolio is important. So far, what was covered was how to make a portfolio, and we skimmed over the importance of one. From a professional standpoint, having a portfolio provides tangible proof of your skills and abilities, which definitely helps if you want to demonstrate that you are a qualified candidate for a specific job.
Providing samples of your prior work and projects not only shows potential employers that you are qualified, but it also shows the kind of individual you are. This allows an employer to not only see that you’re capable of the job, but it also shows that you are a good fit for that job in regards to its culture.
Having a timeline of your previous work also shows how you’ve developed as an individual. Your portfolio is a living document, which evolves over time. This is probably not directly important to a potential employer, but it is important to see where you’ve have started in creating your career. In short, it provides perspective. Having an appreciation for the process of making and understanding a portfolio is the take home message here, and we hope you agree!