How To Create a Portfolio and What Content To Include
By Indeed Editorial Team
Updated 19 October 2022
Published 17 August 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Work portfolios can often provide an effective way to showcase your skills, expertise, experience and achievements to employers. You can showcase these credentials and accomplishments on a website, presentation, or print-based format. In this article, we review what a portfolio is, the benefits of making one, possible contents to highlight in yours and how to create a portfolio.
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is a collection of your top, completed work projects, which demonstrates how you've applied your relevant skills, education, training, experience and accomplishments. You can choose to present your portfolio as a website, presentation or selection of printed documents.
For example, people working in creative jobs such as writers and designers may include samples of their published articles or designs. On the other hand, a bank manager may create a portfolio that includes successfully developed and implemented annual reports that highlight how they contributed to achieving these results.
Related: What Do You Include in a Portfolio?
How to create a portfolio
Follow these steps on how to create a portfolio that's strong and impresses hiring managers:
1. Start with an introduction
Think of the introduction to your portfolio as the opening for your personal brand. In one or two sentences, describe your top relevant skills, unique credentials and other qualifications that make you the ideal candidate for the specific job. This helps hiring managers to learn more about who you are and the contents they're about to review in your portfolio.
2. Include your professional background
After the introduction, offer a brief look at your professional background. This could be a visual timeline of your education, training and career. Include the most critical accomplishments from each stage of your professional career to show the employer how you have progressed. An effective and creative way to create this section is to include an infographic with a timeline of your career.
3. Include your accomplishments
Awards, recommendations and other accomplishments may serve as your third-party references. Include any statements that your previous employers or clients have made that can attest to your qualifications, personality and work ethic. If you have earned any awards or obtained certifications, make sure to include copies of these documents.
4. State your goals
In this section of your portfolio, you can describe your professional goals for the next few years. You can use this section to reiterate how much you want the job by explaining how it fits into your overall career goals and how your skills and experiences would be beneficial to the organisation. An effective way to do this is by researching and identifying any challenges the organisation may be facing or general industry challenges and how you plan to overcome them if offered the position.
5. Conclude with the most critical points
You can conclude your portfolio with a brief statement that recaps the most important details about you. This can include your contact information, top qualifications and why you believe you're the strongest candidate for the job. Try to make sure these elements relate directly to the role and portray yourself positively and professionally.
6. Find a medium to create your portfolio
There are multiple ways that you can use to build your portfolio. For example, a web designer may create a website to use as a portfolio for showcasing their design skills and capabilities. On the other hand, a writer may use a platform that allows them to include links to their published articles. Use the platform that serves you best to showcase your work.
7. Keep working on your portfolio
Your portfolio may evolve as you improve and grow in your career. When you obtain a new skill, achieve an award or earn a certificate, consider adding these to your portfolio. This can ensure that it accurately reflects your current professional stage.
8. Make it easy to read
Try to make your portfolio easy for a hiring manager to review. While it's a great idea to be creative when designing your portfolio, it's important that it looks professional and is easy to read. Use simple, easy-to-read fonts and high-quality images. If you need help designing your portfolio, there are a variety of available templates for you to choose from.
9. Ensure everything is functional
If you're using a website or online platform to create your portfolio, it's a good idea to check it regularly to ensure it functions well. Make sure your links direct visitors to the correct pages, images open properly and all the information remains current and up to date. This demonstrates your professionalism and organisational abilities to hiring managers.
Benefits of making a portfolio
A professional portfolio can be a great addition to your other application materials. Since portfolios allow you to showcase your skills, abilities, knowledge and experience, they may impress hiring managers and help you stand out from other candidates. Other common benefits of building and displaying a portfolio can include:
Showcases your creative abilities
If you're applying to a role that requires artistic knowledge or creativity, a portfolio can successfully showcase your unique style and capabilities. You can create different designs using software systems or skills mentioned in the role requirements or preferences sections of the job description. A portfolio can also be an effective way to express your personality and style, which can help hiring managers better understand who you are and if you'd be a strong fit with their team members.
Demonstrates dedication to the role
Building a portfolio can often tell employers that you spent extra time to showcase your talents. This can help hiring managers understand your passion, determination and excitement for the role. Seeing how much time you put into creating your portfolio can help them understand how you may dedicate the same effort toward your tasks and projects if they were to hire you.
Helps you feel prepared for interviews
Interviews can typically feel more comfortable if you have portfolios ready for employers to review. As you mention your credentials and experience, you can use your portfolio to support any skills you gained, responsibilities you completed or achievements you reached by showcasing your impressive projects in it. This can help increase your confidence throughout the interview and display your professionalism to employers.
Displays your organisational abilities
Having your highlighted previous projects displayed neatly and comprehensively in a portfolio is an effective way to show hiring managers that you're organised and responsible. Impressive portfolios also allow employers to easily locate past projects you completed that are similar to the ones they expect you to work on during their role.
Contents you might feature in your portfolio
There are a wide variety of tasks, work items and accomplishments you can add to your portfolio to make it catch the hiring manager's attention. You can highlight your creative projects or important work-related data, depending on the type of career you're applying for and the requirements of the role. Here are different types of project items you could include in your portfolio:
There are some academic-related roles that require extensive research abilities. You can feature your research abilities by recording the subjects you've studied, the materials you've examined and the information uncovered during your research process. Feature this information in your portfolio for employers to easily locate and review.
Some healthcare positions may request to review your lab reports or other medical-related documents, which you can easily showcase on your portfolio. If you work primarily in a lab, these charts and records can explain any findings you've uncovered and the results of any experiments you've conducted. This helps employers better understand how familiar you are with working in a laboratory environment. They can also learn about any experiments you've completed that apply to the work you may complete for their labs.
Portfolios can provide a visualisation of the certifications you've earned that relate to the role. If the position requires you to hold any certifications or other credentials, your portfolio can provide proof of this. You can write a description of the certification and list the year you earned it to give the hiring manager more details about this achievement.
Many employees in artistic or creative fields may build designs and showcase them in their portfolios. These can include roles like graphic designers, artists or fashion designers. You can display different images of designs you've developed for both personal and work-related projects. Portfolios can allow you to provide brief written descriptions beneath each picture that you can also expand on to employers during an interview.
Related: Creative Skills in the Workplace
You can use your portfolio to share case studies and testimonials of successful projects or accomplishments you've completed for clients or managers. Your case study can describe the problem, your approach to solving it and the results you brought in for the customer or your manager. This can give the hiring manager a better understanding of your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
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