Career Portfolios: Creating Your Career Collage

Career Portfolios communicate your professional story beyond a resume’s capability. The career portfolios my students recently submitted as one of their assignments have inspired this month’s article.

Whether you are a job seeker, career changer, or happily building your career with your current employer, a career portfolio can help you create a balanced and fulfilling work life. I recently asked my students to submit a career portfolio as one of their assignments. Some students are new to the world of work, while others are planning their second or even third career. Whatever their story, their portfolios conveyed a powerful message about who they are professionally.  From an employer perspective, any reservation about hiring or promoting a candidate ‘light’ on relevant work experience completely dissolved.

A career portfolio communicates a powerful message beyond a resume’s capability. A well thought out portfolio captures the essence of you – your skills, accomplishments, all you’ve done, and all you are capable of doing.  A career portfolio can help you:

  • organize your thoughts in preparation for your next interview
  • showcase your abilities, and bring your accomplishments to life
  • display relevant knowledge and skills you acquired through previous roles, hobbies, and community involvement
  • summarize recent successes in preparation for annual reviews or goals setting
  • make decisions with respect to career navigation and even retirement planning

Many people think of their resume as being their portfolio, however, a portfolio is so much more. Training certificates, courses you took long ago, special certifications, volunteer work, projects on which you worked, letters of recommendation, and thank you cards all speak to your past successes. Compile these in an organized manner, and even you will be amazed at how much you’ve accomplished! Visually displaying these achievements adds context and meaning to the list of bullets traditionally found on a resume.

Use both content and form to illustrate your strengths. While a career portfolio can take many forms, choose a design that makes your content easy to read and understand. Balance visual images, organized space, and words to arrange your information. The possibilities for samples of work you can include are endless. In the end, you will want your portfolio to communicate your brand; the message that you want to send an employer about you.

Finally, a portfolio is a living document. As you continue to acquire valuable learning experiences throughout your career and life, add these to your portfolio.  When you think of a career portfolio in this manner, you will find that it extends beyond a resume to become your career collage.  Happy career planning!

Article originally published in The Bulletin, a quarterly publication dedicated to career development.