If you’re looking to give yourself an extra edge during your next interview, consider bringing a portfolio! Why? Portfolios give you an advantage over those candidates who don’t provide one: the opportunity to show tangible examples of your work, and the ability to showcase rather than state your skills. While not every employer requires a portfolio or treats portfolios the same way, having a well-organized portfolio of your own can be immensely advantageous.
However, it’s important to make sure you present your work as professionally and neatly as possible, as you would any other document in your job search process. For example, you should treat your portfolio like you would your resume: avoid flashy text and colors, steer clear of unnecessary pictures (such as a head shot on your resume), and only include relevant information. However, while brevity is best and there is some flexibility as to what you can choose to include, there are several essentials you should include. These are:
1. Table of contents
2. Current resume
3. Cover letter catered to the specific role/company you’re interviewing for
4. Projects/work samples
5. Awards/honors or any relevant certifications you have
6. Letters of reference
Of course, including all these documents can get lengthy, so be sure to cherry pick your best work. It’s best to keep it brief to give the interviewer a concise idea of you as a professional without taking too much time out of your time together
Portfolio Tip! Assemble your portfolio in something you can easily edit, like a binder with removable sheet protectors, so you can tailor your documents to the position you’re interviewing for.
Preparing a portfolio also helps save some valuable real estate on your resume and cover letter. Many employers only want to see resumes of one to two pages and cover letters of only a few hundred words, which can be tough to manage when you have a repertoire of experience, skills, and credentials to communicate. But put together a complete portfolio, and you can open up space for more important information on these documents. For example, if you want an interviewer to know that you have great communication skills, try including a writing sample or a project that displays that; then, when including your resume, you don’t have to take up space with the cliché “excellent communication skills.”
Of course, some professions require that you bring a portfolio, but many don’t—and you can only benefit by bringing one anyway. So collect your documents, grab a binder, and print out the job description for that interview coming up! Make sure you have all the information necessary to create the best product you can for that particular position, and you’ll be well on your way to improving your own personal brand.