A portfolio is collection of documents and artifacts you've put together that record important markers in your career development. You can bring your portfolio to interviews to demonstrate your experience, skills and knowledge to an employer in a visual way. You can also create an online portfolio as a digital record of your work.
There are two types of portfolios.
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Use a master portfolio to store all the important documents you might want to access later in your career. You wouldn't normally show this to employers, as it's just too big.
Creating a master career portfolio will help you:
- Create résumés, cover letters, personal websites and employment proposals
- Prepare for meetings with employers, interviews and performance reviews
- Identify strengths, see evidence of your progress and clarify what you still want to build in your career
Items you might add to a master portfolio:
- Experience (lists of work and volunteer experience, skills, résumés, cover letters, etc.)
- References (contact information, reference letters, etc.)
- Work samples, with summary captions and narratives (papers, projects, essays, reports, lab reports, writing samples, personal website, graphic design samples, etc.)
- Education (copies of degrees and certificates, transcripts, etc.)
- Training and professional development (lists of professional development activities, training courses, etc.)
- Awards and recognition (scholarships, certificates of recognition or achievement, letters and notes of appreciation, performance reviews, work term evaluations, newspaper clippings, photos, etc)
- Professional memberships (lists of memberships in professional associations, etc.)
- Career vision and goals (statements about what you want to accomplish in your career)
- Self-assessments (personality and aptitude test results, competency assessments, etc.)
A presentation portfolio is a small collection of documents you've put together to present to an employer or selection committee. You can choose certain items from your master portfolio to create a presentation portfolio when you need it.
Your presentation portfolio should be brief (eight documents or less) and targeted to the position. Choose your strongest samples or documents and make sure you don't include confidential information from previous employers. For a hard copy portfolio, select a slim professional-looking folder and use good-quality colour photocopies (not your original documents). Go over the contents so you're confident speaking about each item.
How you can use your presentation portfolio
- You can use it when networking, applying for positions or interviewing.
- Bring it to informational meetings or drop it off with a letter of introduction at companies you're interested in working for
- Add a link to your online portfolio in your résumé, or send it as an attachment with your application
- Ask to present it at an interview. If there is no time during the interview, offer to leave it with the interviewer to look at when they have time.
What to put in your presentation portfolio
- Work samples (lesson plans, writing, marketing documents, blueprints, software, video clips)
- Project descriptions
- Photos of work or work sites
- Reference letters