Supporting your job search with an organized, flexible portfolio.
Every job seeker needs a functional and current working portfolio—a collection of materials that are representative of work you have done, whether paid, volunteer, full-time, or part-time. Your portfolio is a central element of your sales pitch when applying for a job or during a job interview.
Your portfolio should:
- show your strongest, most relevant, and most recent work
- be made up of samples carefully selected for the position for which you are interviewing
- present your work in a professional manner
Since each job may require a different set of samples to best support your application and interview, it’s a good idea to set up a system to organize your work samples so you can quickly change your portfolio when you need to.
Appropriate Work for a Portfolio
Your portfolio can present samples of actual work, examples of writing, positive written comments from teachers and/or other professionals, certificates, awards and endorsements, pictures of you working, and pictures of things you have created. If you were in a play, part of a show, or worked an event for an organization, hand-outs or brochures that include your name could be included.
You should save anything that you feel is a good representation of your skills, abilities, and talents. If you feel that you don’t have enough examples of your work to support a portfolio, this is a prime indication that you need to get involved in more activities or volunteer. Doing so will help generate material for your portfolio and will also help build your always-important network.
Organizing your Portfolio Materials
It’s best to select the portfolio items that you feel will best represent you for each specific position and interview. In order to make that selection process efficient, you should put together a system to keep your portfolio items organized and easy to find. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We recommend using a plastic container for each year, and within each container setting up folders or large envelopes labeled with major categories (volunteer work, teacher’s comments, waitressing, creative writing) or types of items (articles, programs, design projects). With this system, you can easily store—and then locate and select—your work samples.
Make an effort to build a physical portfolio system that will work best for you. You can use boxes and folders that are labeled with Braille or large print or whatever manner works well. Look back at your work and think about what samples best represent you and your abilities and accomplishments.
Your CareerConnect Online Portfolio
These days it’s important to have both physical and electronic portfolios. Electronic portfolios can give a potential employer a quick sense of what you do and who you are before the interview. During an interview, handing potential employers tangible evidence of what you are capable of is an interesting, distinctive way to substantiate your answers to questions, and even initiate more detailed questions from the interviewer.
The CareerConnect Online Portfolio is an easy way to get your electronic portfolio going. As we continue in this course you will be building a simple online electronic portfolio that will be of use to you in the future. Be aware of the ways in which the CareerConnect Online Portfolio can support your job search—and remember to keep your online portfolio up to date with your best work.