A portfolio is a showcase for your achievements and talents. It can include samples of your work, certificates, diplomas, awards, letters of recommendation, and more. It is most often presented online/electronically, in a good quality binder, or in a visual arts portfolio. Those who are web-savvy can elect to create their own websites as an alternative, too.

Advantages to Using a Portfolio

A portfolio provides a structure for you to keep all of your essential work-related samples and documents protected in one place and demonstrates tangible proof of your skills and abilities. It allows you to easily find and access those materials when you need them for a job search, performance appraisal, or application for a promotion.

A portfolio allows you to expand on your résumé in a comprehensive manner and concretely share your area of expertise. You can be more creative in your portfolio than you are in producing your résumé and cover letter. If you create a "master portfolio," you can easily pick and choose items to customize a portfolio for a particular position or occasion.

Elements of a Portfolio

Your portfolio might include:

  • Samples of your work such as:
    • Flyers, brochures, programs, or other materials describing presentations, workshops or seminars you have presented
    • Photographs of projects you have been involved in (e.g. a conference display booth you created)
    • Videos (e.g. dance or musical performances, speeches, events)
    • Documents you may have designed like brochures, flyers, posters, advertisements, reports
    • Print-outs of web-based materials (social media campaigns, web content you wrote)
  • Your career goals or career mission statement
  • Letters of recommendation from current and previous employers, volunteer work, committee involvement, etc.
  • Reference letters testifying to the quality of your work
  • A copy of your resume
  • A list of your skill sets or competencies
  • Transcripts
  • Academic awards
  • Copies of non-confidential positive performance appraisals
  • Emails, thank you letters, and handwritten notes complimenting you on a job well done
  • Company announcements of promotions, awards or achievements

Advanced professionals might also consider including:

  • Press clippings or other published works
  • Research and reports you have conducted
  • Articles written about you or projects you have been involved in (newspapers, company newsletters, etc.)
  • A list of professional memberships or associations you belong to that are work-related, including any special committees on which you serve
  • Copies of evaluations from a workshop you presented or a speech you made

Hiatt recommends LinkedIn’s Creative Portfolio Display application to easily assemble all these material and showcase your work in your LinkedIn profile. By having samples of your work right on your LinkedIn profile, others can easily access and view them.