Key Elements that Should be Included in Career Portfolios
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., and Katharine Hansen, Ph.D.
[Part 5 of 7 of Career Portfolios: Proof of Performance]
Career portfolios should be filled with artifacts and information that clearly show the job-seeker’s accomplishments and tell a story of why the job-seeker is the ideal candidate for the position s/he is seeking.
“I want to see items or artifacts that represent that individual and tell a story of accomplishments that relate to the job in question,” states a respondent.
“The portfolio is an opportunity for the candidate to offer ‘proof’ of what is on the resume,” states one respondent. “Emphasis should be on skills, abilities, accomplishments. The portfolio can be an opportunity for a ‘show and tell’ experience elaborating on the work history. Special skills could be highlighted.”
“Keep it professional, just like the resume,” notes another respondent.
“A narrative and index are nice touches to highlight the areas that are truly relevant to the employer,” states the community-college coordinator-instructor.
From the collective wisdom of all the participants, here’s a list of potential items that a job-seeker could include in a career portfolio:
- Resumes (traditional and text version)
- Career goals/objectives/summary
- Professional philosophy/mission statement
- List of accomplishments
- Success stories/narratives
- Project summary report
- Samples of work and reports
- Performance reviews
- Leadership experience
- Transcripts, degrees, licenses, and certifications
- Awards and honors
- Volunteering/community service
- Professional-development activities
- Professional memberships
- Letters of recommendation, commendation, kudos
- Reference list
- Answers to common job interview questions
- Research job-seekers have conducted on the company
“Stuff to keep out is anything personal. This includes any references to family, friends, pets, parties, health, marital status,” states one respondent. “And no religious, political, or social interests,” states another.
No hobbies either. “These are professional portfolios. The personal aspects of hobbies or other items that pertain to the professional career can be addressed in other ways,” notes a respondent.
“Photographs should be left out of one’s portfolio for the same reason that one does not include it in a resume unless the photograph conveys a clear and specific message,” states the director of career placement services at a community college.
Go on to Part 6: Portfolios need to strike a balance between content and design
Questions about some of the terminology used in this article? Get more information (definitions and links) on key college, career, and job-search terms by going to our Job-Seeker’s Glossary of Job-Hunting Terms.
Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., creative director and associate publisher of Quintessential Careers, is an educator, author, and blogger who provides content for Quintessential Careers, edits QuintZine, an electronic newsletter for jobseekers, and blogs about storytelling in the job search at A Storied Career. Katharine, who earned her PhD in organizational behavior from Union Institute & University, Cincinnati, OH, is author of Dynamic Cover Letters for New Graduates and A Foot in the Door: Networking Your Way into the Hidden Job Market (both published by Ten Speed Press), as well as Top Notch Executive Resumes (Career Press); and with Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., Dynamic Cover Letters, Write Your Way to a Higher GPA (Ten Speed), and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Study Skills (Alpha). Visit her personal Website or reach her by e-mail at kathy(at)quintcareers.com.
Dr. Randall S. Hansen is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com.
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