Resumes & Cover Letters

What Is a Work Portfolio and How to Curate One

September 15, 2021

Having a curated work portfolio is crucial for better chances of getting hired. A portfolio is built specifically to impress clients who may hire your services. Understanding what a work portfolio is can help you improve the chances of getting more clients. In this article, we look at what a work portfolio is, explore careers that require one, discuss what's included in a work portfolio, and learn how to make one, including tips.

What is a work portfolio?

A work portfolio is a collection of work samples you can use to showcase your skills and abilities for a job. The portfolio is a platform that portrays engaging evidence of your ability. For example, writers need a professional portfolio to collect their best articles, web developers to display samples of their best websites, and photographers to feature their best works. If you want to market your skills for different jobs, you can benefit from creating multiple portfolios, one for each type of work.

Related: How To Become a Portfolio Manager

Careers that typically require a work portfolio

Work portfolios are necessary for individuals who do creative jobs, which include the following:

  • web design
  • graphic design
  • photography
  • writing
  • marketing and influencing
  • teaching

What's included in a work portfolio?

It is important to have an excellently presentable portfolio to qualify for jobs and may have the following details:

Statement of originality

At the top of your portfolio, write one paragraph stating that you own the work you are showcasing. Also, indicate a warning against copying without your permission. A statement of originality may look like this:

This is Charlotte Mary's portfolio. All content here is used to demonstrate my work experience and skills. Please do not copy or reproduce any part of the content without prior permission from the owner.

Your career aspirations

If you have some experience in the industry and want to improve your existing skills, including your career aspirations remains essential. Include a section of the goals you dream of achieving in that particular career within a particular time. Let your goals be focused and portray the targets you want to attain in your career.

Related: 11 Essential Things To Bring to a Job Interview

Your best samples

You can impress your potential clients by including work in your portfolio that's attention-grabbing and may be more unique than the work your competitors present. Choose the best examples from your previous works and include them in your job portfolio. You can also benefit from including a variety of work in different styles to show your range.

An updated resume

Every time you need to update your resume after acquiring a new skill or experience, it is imperative that you update your work portfolio as well. Ensure you add only relevant information to your resume. It may include your level of education, work experience, and individual achievements. To make your portfolio easy for clients to go through, make sure to format your resume in chronological or functional order. Display the kind of work your prospective client may desire. If your type of career doesn't allow you to send pictures or articles, you can upload samples in multimedia formats.

Biographical information

Include an "About me" section in your portfolio to tell potential clients about your background. A client may want to know more about you, and it's important to have your personal information in the portfolio. Your biographical information contains details about your character or personality and can describe the kind of person you are at work.

Skills and achievements

In your professional portfolio, feature your most relevant skills and what you have accomplished in previous roles. If you attended a workshop, vocational training, or gained honourable recognition, mention it in your portfolio to demonstrate your capabilities to your client. Use this section to impress potential clients and to showcase what you are capable of achieving. For example, you could include an award-winning article or photograph you created.

List of references

In your career portfolio, include a shortlist of previous clients and their contact information. Potential employers and new clients might want to contact them to confirm the skills and accomplishments you described in your portfolio. References can include individuals who can testify to the quality of your work, remarkable people who taught you, or leaders of volunteer programs you joined. Be sure to contact them and ask for permission to use them as a reference.

How to make a professional portfolio

Follow these steps when building your work portfolio:

1. Collect and organize your materials

Gather all the relevant, recent information and samples that you may like to use in your portfolio. Get your biographical data, proofs of certifications and awards, recommendation letters, resume, and samples in one place. Arrange the information you include in your portfolio for quick findings. You can benefit from putting your personal information, skills, and resume near the beginning. Then, arrange the other items in order of importance and what you want the hiring manager or client to see first. Separate your items into a logical order to make your portfolio more visually appealing and easy to review.

2. Make your portfolio visually attractive

Portfolios are the only platform capable of sharing visual representations of your work. For candidates in the arts and design field, creating visually appealing portfolios is an excellent way to showcase their best work. In addition, the layout of your work portfolio portrays your personality and work style. If you're using a hard-copy portfolio, you can use binders, section dividers, and tabs to organize your items in a folder or portfolio case.

3. Customize your portfolio to match job applications

A customized portfolio means that all the information contained highlights all requirements enlisted in a specific job description. To stand out, you can research the prospective company and find out about their specific needs. Then formulate ideas that offer valuable solutions to their problems.

Related: 4 Steps To Highlight Your Achievements on a Resume

How to get the most out of your portfolio

Here are tips that may guide you towards making the most out of your portfolio:

1. Promote your portfolio on social media platforms

Social media services offer features that support the promotion of creative careers and businesses. For example, you can sign up with job sites, and there are often options to create a free profile. You can upload your portfolio and send it to seeking employers. You can include a link to your portfolio on social media and build your following to market your skill to a broader audience.

2. Contact clients directly

Many companies are constantly seeking the best candidates for job placements in different roles. When you pitch to them directly with links to your professional portfolio, you increase your chances of getting hired. A portfolio gives them an opportunity to review what you can do.

3. Keep your portfolio up-to-date

It's essential to assess your progress and update your job portfolio regularly. Besides increasing your chances of getting more clients, updating your portfolio also shows that you care about your work. Regularly uploading new material to your online portfolio helps you rank higher in search engines, leading to more clients easily finding your work when they search for services.

4. Build digital portfolios

An online portfolio allows employers to look at your work whenever it's convenient for them. There are multiple ways to develop an online platform for showcasing your skills. Some sites offer portfolio features, while you can also create your own website to share samples of your work. It can be helpful to include a link or downloadable copy of your resume on your digital portfolio as well.

5. Make several copies of important information

Employers might keep your application and portfolio for long periods. For example, several people within the company might need time to review your resume and reference list before hiring you. If your portfolio is a physical copy, it's very important to make multiple copies. This way, you'll always have documents on hand to reach potential clients and employers.

6. Describe your personality

Employers hire workers based on more than just their qualifications. They may need to know more about you, which is why it's beneficial to include some information about yourself as part of your portfolio. Tell them about what type of person you are to work with and let your personality show.


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