How to Create a Professional Portfolio That Employers Actually Notice
We’re guessing you came looking for how to create a professional portfolio to nail an interview and get the job? We interviewed a lot of candidates, and these are what great portfolios look like. You used to be one of a million applicants, but you’re still one of a many potentials. You don’t have the job yet, but you will if you follow these portfolio tips!
So, you got the interview? CONGRATS!
You and a thousand other people. How are you going to stand out?
…your professional portfolio!
Employers interview literally thousands of candidates, so you’ve got to make a stellar first impression or someone else is going to be getting that new recruit welcome bonus instead of you.
Your resume got you the interview, but with these tips, your portfolio will get you the job you’ve always dreamed of.
Why Do You Need to create a professional Portfolio for Interviews?
Think about things from your employer’s perspective…
Their time is invaluable. They’ve waded through countless resumes and narrowed down their list, but now they want an even better clue as to who you are and what you can do for them.
They won’t know how good you REALLY are until they see you perform, but because that’s going to cost them A LOT of money, you need to give them as good an inkling as possible before they give you a chance.
A professional or creative portfolio for an interview should prove all of the credentials and accomplishments you bragged about in your resume.
For certain careers (web designer, for example), a portfolio of accomplished work is an absolute MUST.
But, there’s one secret benefit to a professional portfolio that most interviewees don’t even realize. One that makes employers like us take notice EVERY TIME…
It shows you’re serious about this job.
When the vast majority of your rival candidates show up to the interview, they won’t have one. If you follow these tips, you’ll have a portfolio that shows your accomplishments, gives your employer a good idea of what you bring to the table, and shows them you mean business.
Let’s get to it:
How to Create a Professional Portfolio (or a Creative one)
NOTE: Your portfolio should be in a 3-ring binder.
Step 1: Update Your Resume
Update your resume to include your latest education, experience, and accomplishments. This is one of the most important documents inside your pro portfolio.
Step 2: Include a List of Your Best Skills for THIS Job
Don’t waste an employers time. Tell us which skills you have for THE JOB YOU’RE APPLYING FOR. That could be:
- People skills
- Other “soft skills”
- Content writing
- Word, Powerpoint, etc.
Tell us how it will help you in this position.
Below that, you can write about the skills that you taught yourself. We like to know what you do in your spare time. Do you play an instrument, knit, hike, etc.? Let us know!
Step 3: Include Education or Professional Qualifications
Make copies of your important licenses, qualifications, or educational achievements. We love to see college transcripts and other important documents inside every job portfolio. This is very important when you create a professional portfolio.
TIP: For college transcripts, highlight RELEVANT courses for this position.
Step 4: Include Letters of Recommendation
We know you’re cool, but we can’t just take your word for it. Trust but always verify.
Talk to former employers, family friends, teachers, professors, community leaders, etc. Get someone to vouch for you!
Step 5: Include Samples of Your Work
Show us samples of relevant work first, and then include samples of other great work from either your hobbies or other ventures. One candidate showed us all of her relevant samples, then a recording of an awesome song she wrote! That blew us away.
Be sure to include any positive feedback you got from professors or employers.
Step 6: Brag a Bit
Don’t go crazy, but highlight all of your achievements even if they don’t relate to the position. If you’re talented and motivated, it usually spills over into other facets of your life.
Were you a Latin scholar, a music virtuoso, or spelling bee champ? Let. Us. Know. Now!
How to Format Your Professional or Creative Portfolio
OK, now that you’ve got all of the right stuff in order, the last step when you create a professional portfolio, is to get the format right.
Here’s how to make it easy for us to love you and sign you to a contract.
- Make a table of contents: Put a table of contents first so we know where to skip to if we want to find the best information.
- Make tabs for each section: We pore over hundreds of these things, so make it easy for us to flip to the section we want, please.
- A title page with an intro is nice: We always love these. Write a short, creative intro about yourself and stick it on the title page. It’ll make us laugh or intrigue us a bit.
Sample Sections for Your Portfolio
Lost on which sections to include? Try some of these ideas:
- About Me
- Relevant Experience
- Community Leadership
- Why I’m AWESOME for This Position
- Photos of any Cute Pets (Only half joking…)
Is There Any Difference Between a Professional Portfolio and an Online Creative Portfolio?
Honestly, not really. Employers want to know who you are, what you do that’s relevant to us, and why we should hire you.
However, most digital portfolios are aimed at specific skill sets (web copy, design, SEO, etc.). There is value in being focused when you create a professional portfolio.
Our advice is to put samples of your work or case studies front and center in your portfolio along with a definitely not-touched-up-at-all photo of you.
Create a headline that gets attention (MILLION DOLLAR COPYWRITER FOR HIRE), and include links to satisfied clients.
Getting the interview is the easy part. Now you need to get the job. Build a killer professional or creative portfolio, and you’ll be sitting at your employee cubby in no time!