Have you ever left an interview thinking “if I could just show them what I can do, I know I would get the job”? Few employers offer the opportunity to demonstrate skills and abilities during the interview, but a good career portfolio will illustrate your capabilities and past achievements.
Just as a lawyer gathers evidence that supports his arguments in a court case, a career portfolio is proof you can use to demonstrate your experience, skills,strengths and accomplishments to an employer. Your career portfolio should include:
Education – Include a copy of your degree, diploma and training certificates. If you received good grades, a copy of your final transcript will demonstrate learning as one of your soft skills. Inserting copies of your course descriptions or syllabus shows a potential employer exactly what you learned. Last but not least, including information about awards or scholarships you’ve received can show ability to achieve excellence in what you do.
Experience – It is always a good idea to include a copy of your résumé in the portfolio. You might also want to consider including a copy of your job description to help the employer understand your experience from a past employer’s perspective. Adding copies of previous performance appraisals can demonstrate your strengths as an employee.
Ability – Offer examples of your work. For instance, a graphic designer would have design samples, a writer might include published articles and a carpenter could have samples of smaller projects. Since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” alternatives to samples can include photographs, copies of recommendation letters, and certainly thank you letters from customers or clients are a great way to demonstrate the value of your work as seen through the eyes of others. If you have lots of samples and photos, I recommend gathering them into a master career portfolio and then selecting the most suitable examples for each interview. This way you will present a portfolio that is tailored to the job, just as you would have tailored your cover letter and resume.
Remember, career portfolios don’t necessarily need to be in hard copy, electronic formats offer online options including links to your online work and to your resume.
If you are preparing for an interview and want to learn more about the benefits of a portfolio and how to introduce it, an Employment Advisor at a local Employment Ontario agency such as Lutherwood can offer you free assistance.