Having a portfolio of your career could be just what you need to get ahead of the competition. Certain professions demand the use of a portfolio, but not all. You could create yourself a unique application that provides the employer with more than they could ever imagine, and take them by surprise.
The single most important factor to consider when writing a CV is how you can make a great first impression. How do you write a CV that stands head and shoulders above the rest and makes a memorable impression? We believe that a portfolio could be the answer!
What is a portfolio?
A portfolio is collection of samples from your career. These samples could come in many different forms. Photographs, documents, video samples, websites, or even physical proof of your work.
The actual portfolio itself could be a binder, a folder, a sheet of paper, a painting, blueprints, or anything else that is appropriate for your career. It doesn’t matter how obscure your portfolio may seem, as your aim is to provide a unique approach to applying for a job.
Why would you need a portfolio?
With the right skills and qualifications you may not need a portfolio to gain a job interview. But if you want to give yourself an even bigger chance of success, then this could just give you an edge.
Certain professions would require you to create a portfolio in order to apply in the first place. If you were a model then you would of course need to provide a folder of your work. You would choose the very best pictures you’d ever had taken and present them to a prospective employer. These samples would obviously be essential for the business to make a decision. But what if a portfolio wasn’t expected?
This is where we believe you can take advantage and create a unique application to include with your CV. So let’s say for example that you are a web designer and are considering how to make your application stand out. Why not create a portfolio and showcase your website creations in high quality printed paper – laminated and neatly inserted into a folder. This portfolio could be handed over directly to the manager to accompany your CV and give it the ‘wow factor’.
What would the employer use the portfolio for?
The key thing to remember here is that the employer wants reassurance that whoever they may hire can perform to expectations. The CV or Résumé format doesn’t always allow for this information, and whilst job seekers can provide performance indicators within their work history section, this still may not be enough.
So how can you prove to the employer that you’re the right person for the job?
This is where a portfolio can shine through and create an almost guaranteed job interview. The employer can instantly see exactly what you’re capable of, and in some instances may not even fully read your CV. Creative roles are perfect for this approach, but other roles can benefit too – even more so in fact!
Which careers would benefit from a portfolio?
An actor or a model would create a portfolio because it would be a mandatory requirement of the industry. However, other professions would benefit greatly from a portfolio even if they are not mandatory. Here are a few examples:
- Digital marketing manager
- Website developer
- SEO manager
- Building and construction
- Graphic design
- Cake decorator
For some professions it would seem like an impossible task and completely unnecessary to create a portfolio – but you’d be wrong. Let’s say for example that you are a car salesman and are applying for a Sales Executive role at a brand new car showroom selling Audi’s. If you were to create a portfolio for some of the cars you’ve sold in the past showing pictures of you and the happy customers, how great would that look to the Audi Sales Manager reviewing your application?
You could also print out emails and include letters of reviews from your customers. Testimonials prove to the employer that you are a great salesman and offer a friendly and positive service. You could also include your sales stats for the year to create a unique and ‘one of a kind’ portfolio that no other salesman will have done.
What could I include in my portfolio?
What you include in your portfolio will make or break this whole concept – so choose very wisely. Make sure it’s the very best of you and your work. Anything even slightly under your best work could create a portfolio that backfires.
Don’t try and pad out your portfolio with everything you’ve ever done, and only choose the cream of the crop. If you are going to take such a bold approach you need to make sure it’s done correctly. The employer will only be impressed if what you provide them is impressive.
Here are a few examples of what you could include:
- Pie charts
- Spreadsheets and Word documents
- PowerPoint presentations
- Marketing strategies/campaigns
- Advertising samples
- Website creations
- Sales targets, revenue and total sales
- Testimonials – emails and letters
- Education – certificates, diplomas, essays, dissertations
- Published articles
- Links to websites – LinkedIn, blogs, articles, videos, images
Should I create a physical or online portfolio?
Your portfolio does not have to be physical, and if you feel that linking to an online profile is better – then go ahead. LinkedIn is the best online professional platform to create what is known as a ‘second CV’. Here, you can create a comprehensive profile which connects to lots of like minded individuals. You can share, connect, create, post, and log all of your academic achievements. Creating an online professional network can also open lots of other doors. You may be head hunted!
With an online portfolio you simply have to link to this from your CV. This could be easier than creating a physical portfolio, and may even be better format – depending on your profession. However, if you are able to create a physical one then we would recommend it – especially if you can hand it personally to the hiring manager. This would be a great impression, and is a far more friendly and personable approach than doing everything online.
Whichever format you choose remember this – if you are able to create a portfolio that showcases your best work, it will instantly boost your chances of getting an interview. Better still, if you are the only candidate that has provided one, you already have one foot in the door!