As a professional looking for a new position, you may wonder if having a portfolio is beneficial. The answer is: it depends. A portfolio can offer prospective employers a comprehensive look at your work. If you decide that a portfolio would best highlight your skills, it should include your relevant experience, accomplishments, key skills, education, and professional goals.
It’s also important to note that portfolios differ from resumes and cover letters, which often simply offer highlights of your work experience. A portfolio gives potential employers more of a 360-degree view into your professional experience and who you are as a person.
A portfolio can lend itself to many different industries and professions, but it can be especially useful for certain jobs. Those in careers where it is necessary to visually display work—artists, writers, designers, or chefs, for example—should take the opportunity to illustrate their talents and tell the story of how their work transformed a project or initiative for the better.
A portfolio is a great way to supplement a resume or cover letter by showcasing your unique skills, which may differentiate you from the competition. Also, be aware that portfolios are not necessarily physical. In the digital era, online platforms are best for building a digital assembly of files and images that can easily be shared with prospective employers.
You may wonder whether a resume is more valuable than a portfolio in presenting your skillset to a potential employer. The answer is that they can both be useful tools during your job search. A resume is absolutely essential since it serves as a summary of your professional life and includes the details about where you’ve worked and what you’ve done. It also gives the employer a quick overview of your strongest skills and most impressive achievements.
A portfolio, on the other hand, can round out the words from your resume and breathe life into your accomplishments. For example, a high-level executive may use a portfolio, in addition to a resume, to demonstrate measurable past wins that deserve more attention than just a few lines on a resume.
Use your portfolio to showcase a collection of your best and brightest work in more detail. In some cases, you may even prepare several different portfolios, depending on the types of jobs you're applying for. Just like resumes, portfolios should be relevant to the open position and demonstrate how you are well-suited to repeat wins or create successful strategies in the new role moving forward.
A portfolio is a great way to document your own professional journey in a meaningful way that can easily be shared with others. Be sure to keep your portfolio updated with your most recent and impressive accomplishments so you have relevant examples to show the next time you interview with a prospective employer.
Dean Madison is the president of TD Madison & Associates. The company is founded on the principle of providing a more predictable approach for evaluating the culture, strategic fit and qualifications of potential candidates for key senior level positions within the cable and telecom industries.