What’s the deal with job-seekers and career portfolios?

Question: “What’s the deal with job-seekers and career portfolios — and how does one go about developing one?”

by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.

Probably still one of the most under-utilized tools for job-seekers, a career portfolio is a collection of information and artifacts that showcases your marketability as a job-seeker to prospective employers.

In a time when many employers are skeptical of the claims many job-seekers make on their resumes concerning their experiences and contributions, a career portfolio can be just the tool you need to show rather than tell.

What is a job skills, job-search, or career portfolio? It is a job-hunting tool that you develop to give employers a complete picture of who you are — your experience, your education, your accomplishments, your skill sets — and what you have the potential to become — much more than just a cover letter and resume can provide. You can use your career portfolio in job interviews to showcase a point, to illustrate the depth of your skills and experience, or to use as a tool to get a second interview.

A career portfolio can be kept in a binder and/or on your personal (professional) Website. However you do it, the key is organization. You want the prospective employer to be able to easily locate whatever he/she is looking for, whether that is a sample of your work, a copy of your resume, or your reference list. Nothing is more powerful, in my mind, than pulling out a hefty portfolio of your work and placing it on the interviewer’s desk with a resounding “thump.”

And while career portfolios have traditionally been used by job-seekers in the arts, more and more job-seekers across all disciplines are using them as a way to develop a career focus, document experiences and accomplishments, and as an aid to prepping for job interviews.

In fact, one of my colleagues actually supports the development of two portfolios, an external portfolio used for job-hunting purposes and an internal one, used for career development.

What kinds of things — items that career portfolio guru Martin Kimeldorf calls artifacts — can go into your portfolio? Here’s a list of the typical items found in a career portfolio:

  • Resumes (traditional and text version)
  • Career goals/objectives/summary
  • Professional philosophy/mission statement
  • List of accomplishments
  • Project summary report
  • Samples of work and reports
  • Transcripts, degrees, licenses, and certifications
  • Awards and honors
  • Volunteering/community service
  • Professional development activities
  • Reference list

Just one final note: Do not send portfolios to employers unsolicited; bring your portfolio with you to the interview.

Learn more about portfolios in this article: Your Job Skills Portfolio: Giving You an Edge in the Marketplace.

This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.

See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.

Who is the Career Doctor? Learn more, read his current career column, or browse the column archives when you visit the Career Doctor’s homepage.

QuintCareers.com Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.

Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.

Maximize your career and job-search knowledge and skills! Take advantage of The Quintessential Careers Content Index, which enables site visitors to locate articles, tutorials, quizzes, and worksheets in 35 career, college, job-search topic areas.