Proof of Performance: Career Portfolios an Emerging Trend for Both Active and Passive Job-Seekers

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by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.

Job-seekers learn more about themselves and their qualifications by preparing a career portfolio, thus boosting their confidence and preparing them for job interviews — regardless of whether they actually use the portfolio in the interview — according to a recent study titled Career Portfolios: Proof of Performance, and conducted by Quintessential Careers, one of the Web’s oldest and most comprehensive career development sites.

“And, I think it is not just self-confidence that the process creates, it is also self-knowledge of what skills and strengths they have which can help them make a better choice of what jobs to apply for, and then to analyze the match between those jobs and their qualities,” stated one participant, a university career counselor. Further, a portfolio “is a useful tool for preparing for the interview, even if the applicant does not have the opportunity to present it to the employer,” stated another university career professional.

In a time when many employers are skeptical of the claims many job-seekers make on their resumes concerning their experiences and contributions — lying and misleading information on a job-seeker’s resume ranked as one of the top recruiter pet peeves in a survey conducted by — a career portfolio can be just the tool to use to show rather than tell.

What is a career portfolio? It’s a job-hunting tool that job-seekers develop to give employers a complete picture of who they are — experience, education, accomplishments, skill sets — and potential contribution to the employer’s organization — much more than just a cover letter and resume can provide. Job-seekers can use a career portfolio in job interviews to showcase a point, to illustrate the depth of skills and experience, or to use as a tool to obtain a second interview.

Other highlights of the research findings include:

The study, which used a virtual focus-group approach, covered a number of issues related to career portfolios and emerging trends in managing an online presence, and included separate focus groups with recruiters and career professionals.

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.

Katharine Hansen, PhD, Creative Director Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at) Founder Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of He is also founder of and 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)

Don’t forget to check out all our Career Portfolio Tools and Resources for Job-Seekers.

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