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The Proof is in the Portfolio Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

As many career coaches will tell you, you should think of your resume as your marketing collateral and your interview as your marketing pitch. In a similar vein, a portfolio is the perfect vehicle to help demonstrate that you can actually do what your resume says you have done. It is a great way to complete your marketing package.

Your resume is always changing. You should be constantly updating your resume. You should edit it each time that you develop a new skill or complete a large project. Similarly, your portfolio becomes a history of your professional life, which evolves as you evolve. It should provide a glimpse of who you are as a potential employee and should present a professional image. Therefore, a leather binder is a much better choice than a plastic one.

Here are some documents that belong in your portfolio:

  1. Awards or honors — other than your "cleanest bunk" award from band camp, awards and honors continue to remain relevant over time. This also includes any letters of recommendation that you might have.

  2. Performance appraisals — only if they are positive overall

  3. Transcripts — assuming that you are strong academically and that you believe that your grades are still applicable

  4. Congratulatory e-mails — notes from peers or superiors commending you on your work

  5. Samples of your work — research papers, lab work, charts & graphs, proposals, writing samples, presentations, flyers, websites

  6. Agendas of meetings or workshops you designed and/or delivered

  7. Certificates of attendance at seminars or workshops

  8. Photographs of professional occasions — keep these to a minimum

  9. Professional licenses and certificates

  10. Your resume — in case you forget to bring one to the interview

Typically, hiring managers are more interested in seeing your portfolio than HR professionals and recruiters are. Regardless, ask your interviewer if they would like to see examples of your work rather than assuming that they are interested in taking the time. Interviewers who learn visually will probably appreciate your documents more than those who learn by listening. Wait until at least half of the interview time has gone by.

Also, creating sections with titles on them will help you quickly flip to the most relevant information for the particular interview. Some interviewers will prefer to quickly thumb through the book themselves while others will ask you to choose some documents to explain in detail.

Avoid putting information in your portfolio that a former company would deem confidential and inappropriate for external viewing. Stick with items that are neutral or related to you personally.

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
A portfolio is a great way to make a lasting impression and distinguish yourself from  the plethora of competition vying for the coveted open jobs. The proof is in the pudding but it can also be in your portfolio. Just try to avoid spilling pudding on it before the interview. :<)
 
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!