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Using a Professional Portfolio in Job Interviews

What is a professional portfolio worth? Is a portfolio necessary in the interview process? How do you make one? These are all questions job seekers like you may ask. Creating a professional portfolio is an excellent exercise job seekers can use to prepare for upcoming job interviews. Through the process of creating a portfolio, job seekers can review their previous experience, highlight their best work samples and compile their best recommendations and references in a single place. A basic professional portfolio has a number of necessary components. Let’s take a look at what some of the most important ones are.

1. A vision statement that includes career milestones and future goals
This is a short, concise statement about your career philosophy and major goals. It should also reflect on the ways in which your previous jobs and the job you are currently interviewing for have helped and could help you reach those career goals.

2. Your resume
The resume included in a professional portfolio should be supplementary to the resume already prepared for a specific job opening. This resume, or Curriculum Vitae, is a complete account of all experience including: education, job experience, awards, publications, etc. This is also sometimes called a master resume.

3. Letters of recommendation
Of all the glowing recommendations collected throughout school, internships, and previous work experience, those included in a professional portfolio should be the shiniest few.

4. Work samples
Even employed job seekers should always be actively collecting pieces of their work to enhance their professional portfolio and their job search as well. These could include particularly well-written papers from college, summaries of excellent projects, or completed work from previous jobs, such as white papers and reports. Showing employers work samples really boosts a portfolio and proves you have the skills needed for the position.

5. A summary of awards, publications, recognition, etc.
Create a short write-up of particular high points throughout your education and career. Include any conferences at which you were a presenter, publications your work was included in, awards you were given or other special recognition you received. If you have military experience, this would be the place to summarize that as well!

6. Professional references
Finally, a polished professional portfolio should have a list of references with complete contact information. References are also something that should be collected over time, but always make sure that you still have personal and regular contact with these individuals so they are aware that someone might be contacting them in regards to your qualifications.

These few components are simply the basics, and as this article from Manifest Your Potential points out, not all job interviews call for a portfolio. While it’s an excellent resource to bring to a job interview, be aware of the tone throughout and use this to gauge whether or not you should present your portfolio. Some employers will ask what you’ve brought with you, while others may believe a portfolio muddles an interview that they’d like to direct solely.

Either way, having a portfolio prepared with even these necessary pieces can help you prepare for job interviews and boost your confidence by reviewing your accomplishments. A prepared portfolio suggests to an employer that you’ve taken initiative and it demonstrates your commitment and passion for your career. Either way, it is a good thing for job seekers of all industries to have.

Do you have a professional portfolio? Do you take it to all of your job interviews? Share with us in the comments section below!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by 10ch

Written by

Kailyn is a recent college graduate with degrees in English and Political Science. She is currently working in the publishing industry, where she loves the fact that she is paid to immerse herself in talking and thinking about books all day long. When she isn’t working, she enjoys reading, cooking, line-dancing, and writing short stories and poetry. Her sincerest hope for contributing to Spark Hire’s job seeker blog is to provide job seekers of all ages with the tools and sense of humor necessary to stay calm and carry on.

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